“Chuckie, Chuckie, Chuckie.” Those were the taunting words my little brother repeated year after year to torment me. I mistakenly told him about the crush I had on our neighbor who lived down the road and up the hill.
I was quite shy and rarely shared my thoughts with others, especially about personal feelings. Ten years old at the time, it was the first stirrings of little butterflies flitting around in my stomach. I think I told my brother to make it real, this little crush of mine.
Chuckie was smart, cute and completely oblivious to my admiring glances. I would ride my bike up and down our street hoping that he would notice my athletic attempts to ride without hands on the handlebars. Over and over again, pedaling slowly and gracefully by his house, how I wished we could ride our bikes together through the almond orchards in our little farming community. He never came out.
At school, I would linger in the hallways hoping to “accidentally” bump into him on our way to recess. Then, during recess, I would strategically place myself in close proximity to where Chuckie was playing, hoping that he would toss me the ball. He never did.
Oh the crush! He had the cutest twinkly blue eyes, blond hair in contrast to my dark brown, and like me, freckles that I thought so beautifully sprinkled across his nose. Prior to 5th grade, I never considered the appearance of others let alone myself. I’m not sure exactly when I started noticing physical attributes, it just reared up in my consciousness one day. And in typical self-deprecating manner, I deemed myself unworthy of Chuckie’s attention.
Once home, “Chuckie, Chuckie, Chuckie”, would echo through my ears as my brother threatened to tell my parents of my crush. Thinking back, I have no idea why I didn’t want them to know. Was it fear of them teasing me? Disapproving? I’m not sure. I think it was my ten-year old insecure self that just couldn’t wrap my head around the feelings I had for this young boy. These feelings continued through fifth grade, making it hard to concentrate on Science, English, Math, when I could barely stop staring across the classroom at the object of my desires.
We moved. Fifth grade turned into sixth. A new school, a new year, a new me. Chuckie faded from my thoughts as a more “mature” 11 year-old me moved on to the next crush, David, who wore a St. Christopher’s medal around his neck. I thought that was so cool. That time though, I kept my thoughts to myself. And as my brother continued to taunt me with whispering the word “Chuckie”, I began to care less. Eventually, my brother stopped teasing me. Isn’t that what happens to kids? Care less and the teasing stops.
So although, these boys had no idea of the “puppy love” I possessed for them, for me the feelings were real, intense and exciting. And hopeful. Also a relief once the feelings passed.
Perhaps that’s what first love should be, one sided and quiet. Time to allow the child to make sense of the foreign feelings. Time to marinate in those feelings and let the psyche mature and make way for what’s next, the “real” thing, the reciprocal, wonderful, confusing second “first love”.
Thank you, Chuckie wherever you are, for not noticing me. For giving me time to mature. For the memories of what I felt for you. For the sweet innocence of a boy who was admired by a girl, who was tormented by a brother, who became a woman in love and married a man that awoken the same butterflies that she felt the very first time at ten years old.
And your first crush?