A true life story of Love, unrealized. From a shy, bashful youth.
Life. Well, school life, when this story began. It was completely normal. Well, in the sense that I had normal or average grades. Lots of potential. I would rather be home reading comic books or listening to music in my room of course, but school was OK. I had friends there and it wasn’t always completely boring. This was during my elementary school days.
That’s where and when it started. That’s what I'm reminded of almost every night when I fall asleep, until I awake; depressed and despaired. Regret piled in heaps upon me almost unbearably, I wake up my eyes watering to the point of crying. I cant forget. My heart wont let me.
Genetics are used to describe our assets and faults a lot. I don't know if that’s what governs our actions or makes us deliberate on what choices to make. Back then, I didn’t care. I had definitely reached puberty and became wiser than most grown-ups almost overnight. I was in a new school, a big school, Jr. high.
Attending grade school as the oldest there gave you some pride..in grade school. Here, in this place, I was among the youngest and in the lowest class. Kids were bigger here and things would be tougher.
I grew up lucky in the fact that while mostly rural, I had a lot of kids my age living close to me, in bicycle range. These friends were my best friends and we came and went to each others homes as if we lived there too. Straight thru the back door, check out the fridge, sit on the couch watching TV, things like that. We were all welcome at each others places and pretty much treated like family. These friends remained my friends throughout my school years and though we’ve gone our separate ways, we feel the same connections when meeting each other along our lives now.
In any case, my point is I had friends there, I wasn't alone and other friends made in elementary school were of course there too. We stumbled around for the first days or weeks, learning where our classes were, memorizing locker numbers and combination locks if we had them. We either brought out lunch or had a lunch ticket our parents paid for, a punch to be made on the card for each day and whatever we wanted to eat, we picked it up, considering what was available.
My biggest complaint, and it was a huge one, was getting up so early in the morning. I was , in short: asked, told, shouted at, threatened and eventually dragged out of bed most mornings. Grumbling, putting on school clothes and eating breakfast with my eyes mostly closed. Then, stumbling down the driveway to wait for the bus at the road. That’s is if I made it in time, which I did not do a lot. I remember my mom driving at close to light speed, having forced me in the car, trying to get ahead of my bus so I could get on it at a house further toward the school. Red faced, frustrated and complaining all the way as she weaved thru traffic like a racecar driver. Sometimes all the way to school, depending on my laziness. I was in for it when I got home too, you can bet on that, and I'll be going to bed that night by 7:00pm.
So, I’m at school, carrying my books for the classroom I've forgotten the location of. Trying to study the class schedule card I was given and get to a familiar hall, or some landmark I'd recognize. It's not so easy when your in crowded halls, people running by you, or jumbled up together talking, or others like me, looking lost and anxious.
You have three bell to learn; ending of class, warning that class was about to begin, and class was in session. The bell ending my previous class a rang earlier, putting me in the hall. Eventually...very soon, the next be would ring. After that the halls would empty except for a few desperate few, and then the last bell would ring. Meaning you had better be sitting at your assigned desk ready to learn. If you walked in after that bell, you were toast. You were scrutinized by the teacher who would find no excuse whatsoever for tardiness, and snickered and ogled by classmates seemingly overjoyed at your being chastised for lack of responsibility. I had been through that, and didn't want to repeat it. I couldn’t understand why the hallways and rooms could be so confusing. I was like a lab mouse trying to navigate a maze.
It was one of these such times that occurred the reason for writing this story.
I had already had “crushes”. Most boys or girls of a certain age, around others of the opposite sex... you know what they are. It's Love.
You think the person your attracted to is the best, most awesome, incredible person ever. You thinks about them all the time, day-dream constantly, write their name down just to read it. You feel you’ve found your soul mate and everything else has to take a back seat to your desire...everything.
Shyness is a rotten thing if your afflicted with it. It may seem “cute” or “adorable” to some people. I was either genetically endowed with an evolutionary overdose of it or possessed a mutated monster or it. It also happens that I had and have a romantic nature that conflicts with my shyness to make me a dilemma to myself.
If there is a lady reading this, Tracy V...., that attended school in North Carolina, and you are still wondering who wrote all those little love notes that were stuffed in your locker...it was me.
I would do this on hall passes for restroom break and other times I felt I could do so unnoticed. I signed them, of course, “your secret admirer”. I will admit to you, I think you never noticed me as a classmate. I was that kind of guy. Not exactly handsome, not ugly, just nondescript and mostly quiet.
I wonder if today it would be considered stalking? Because I did want to make sure, well at first, that it was the right locker. Secondly, what did you think of what I wrote? After I saw, hidden down the hall, that it was, thankfully the correct locker, and you did get the note I was eager to know your reaction. You put the note in your purse with a cursive look around you and walked away. We shared lunch period, and I sat where I could see you but not being obvious (now it does seem kind of creepy writing this, it didn't then, I was in Love, remember?)
You didn’t eat , or actually you nibbled and your food, as you unfolded the not and began to read. You seemed enthralled by what you read and I was absolutely captivated. Nowadays I'd probably consider it voyeuristic and maybe a bit nuts. When one of your many friends came by you would deftly re-fold or put the note away until they departed, then continue reading when they left. I wondered to myself, what are you thinking? What would you do if I walked over and told you it was I who wrote it? I don't believe in fairy tales but it sure would be cool to make one true. This pretty girl, a cheerleader, reading MY letter. What if?.... nah, says the shyness, it would never work.
Still, I kept it up and I would say she looked forward to visiting her locker. On days I would not put one there, I could see the disappointment in her face. I didn’t want to give her any disappointment at all, but I wondered again, what if she knew it was me. Would that be disappointment in itself? As I sad, she was a cheerleader, very pretty, jocks all around her, and I'm just me.
Once, something, or someone, caused her to cry as she sat alone. I hadn’t written anything, but the writing was a bit sporadic, not all the time. So I concluded it wasn’t me, I really hope it wasn’t.. Either way, I could not bear to see such a thing. Couldn’t face her (I wish I did now, what could it have hurt to ask if I could do something for her?) So, I wrote.
The world turns and things change. She got a boyfriend; my letters made her feel good, which in turn made me feel the same, so oddly, I was OK with it. There were more times “crushes” came my way. Some of them were even directed at me! Why does it seem so many times we are attracted to those who don’t even see us? Unrequited Love is heartbreaking to those unreceiving.
Imagine a middle school. The midst of a hallway, between classes, hundreds of kids having discussions, arguments, locker doors slamming and announcements coming over the PA. It was like that. I was exploring a different hallway of the school, trying to perfect the map in my head so I could finally know where to find something in this huge place.
That was when I heard a sound. I can not describe it to you. Then or now. Maybe like a songbird mixed with the wind or a chime of some unknown material. Whatever made it, immediately cause me to stop in my tracks. I've never forgot this moment and I never want to. Amidst all this ambient noise, it was like the sensitivity of a dog to the ultrasonic tone of a dog whistle. Everyone else seemed to continue with their own business, laughing and talking but I was frozen in my tracks. Only moving my eyes and head trying to locate the sound. The events in the hallway slowed perceptively to my senses, like being in a car wreck, where seconds seem drawn out into many minutes. I was in a different type of environment, I sadly do not posses the vocabulary to describe it adequately. Just slower than life. If you’ve seen matrix, I was like Neo and the end of the movie, I could dodge bullets, so to speak.
I focused on the object making the noise, across the hall, diagonally from me. It was the likeness of a girl, she was actually speaking to one of my “other” crushes..I think I had 4 total. She was in from of the Chorus room. I was in the presence of an Angel.
All my life I've known about gullibility and naivety. I been made a fool of and committed some really dumb things. I want you to know that because of what I thought I saw. An Angel. I'm in a school hallway, that’s it seems someone has pumped an hallucinatory gas and made me lose grasp with reality.
Except it seemed to only happen to me. Gradually the room came around to normality and I was able to move. I didn’t though. If anyone had noticed me, they probably would have thought I was stoned or having an immobile seizure. I don't know and don’t care.
Do you remember the very first time you saw a rainbow with your own eyes? The first time your infant child actually looked into your eyes? How do you describe that? What words fit the occasion of infinite beauty, radiance, enchantment? Never before Had I felt the presence of humanity in a higher plane with such clarity and assurances. Right then I believed in magic. I believed in God, and not just said so at church. What could make a creature I was blessed to see before me except an Almighty creator.
I was at a complete loss. I suppose I would have stood their as a statue except for the bells ringing and the hall clearing, including her. Briefly wondering if she was real, I looked in the class window, she was there at a desk. Wonder if she merely floated there or had feet like we others do.
It sounds absurd to read this, but I was there and I was not on drugs. My mind was open to infinite possibilities. Suddenly aliens weren’t such a stupid idea anymore either, who knows?
That was last of the old me it seemed.
My persona had changed, still, I admit, waking up in the mornings was still hard. I joined choir. I had always liked to sing but now I just wanted to be near her. I seemed to keep a smile on my face and was often asked why I was so cheery. My thoughts revolved around her as planets to a star.
Eventually, I had to tell others, they could tell the change in me, I was borderline obsessive. So, I told my closest friends that I liked her.
Most were reassuring, I had female friends to who persuaded me to take a chance, I was “cute” after all; and what could she say? Yes or no...no big deal. My guy friends usually teased me about it openly, what can you expect? I minded a little but that was okay, friends kid around but no trash talk of her..no way. I tried to explain how it was different, that was like an ape explaining geometry.
I even told her mom! She either volunteered or worked in the office. One day, out of the blue, I'm in there for whatever reason and I say, “ I Love your daughter”. She was really cool though and looked at me with a smile in her eyes and told me that was sweet. Why was SHE so easy to talk too?
Another thing was, and oddly so, at least at that age, was my feelings for her weren’t sexual at all. I also wasn’t typically possessive. I simply didn’t see her as just a girl. She was so much more. A princess or an Angel or something else, imperceptible.
I was unworthy of her, and yet I recognized her as a creature of a higher existence. Why couldn't anyone else see it? I would have been happy to place roses at her feet and sing her songs, doing her bidding as a penance just to be in her presence. If you could see her smile, the clouds could not separate the sun from it's embrace of her! Poetic. I became a poet, albeit a novice, I certainly developed a poetic perception of my surroundings.
My shyness prevented me from ever approaching her. It was immature to feel this way, everyone told me, she was just a girl. Just talk to her, they told me. I could not overcome it.
My grades began to decline, rapidly. I know now it was immature, like I was told. I was obsessed with someone I couldn’t even talk to, didn't even know. Every night I prayed for her to notice me, to somehow get the word I had feelings for her, and that she would also feel the same. I learned that what you want and pray for is always what you need or what you’ll receive.
Average grades for me now were D's. Some failures too. I lost focus in so many subject that I was lost compared to my classmates. I failed. I attended summer school to retain credits to move up a grade and did so surprisingly well. In summer school, I was an A+ student. She wasn’t there, and I was focused. Yet back at regular school, things were the same.
I made up my mind to speak to her many times, but the perfect opportunity never came up. Years went by. Junior high became Senior high and I was still looking for my chance. I had matured some thankfully. She wasn’t a real Angel, she wasn’t a fairy tale princess; I wasn’t that out of touch...I never was really. I just wanted to make her feel like one.
She was a popular girl and as I mentioned I was an average guy. Common, not playing sports, not wealthy, and doing a fantastic job at creating a self-esteem deficit. My ego was low. I believe it was around me like an aura. Even though some girls were attracted to me, my sights were set high; I shamefully payed them no heed. Where did that leave me? If I actually spoke to her and she rejected me, I would collapse. As I had become so focused on her all that mattered was retaining what self-worth I had left.
She was a cheerleader, in the homecoming court, and listed by the yearbook staff as the most kind. I knew people who knew her; it was true, she was kind and thoughtful. A good person. I was just me. What right did I have to even try to date her? I was out of my class so far it appalled me. Where she was a princess I was a frog. How could I do that...to her?
I mused over the idea that she did like me. We dated and became great friends as well. Would her popular friends think less of her for it? Would it somehow mar her in the eyes of her peers? I thought too much of her to damage her reputation, even at the cost of my own regard. I would put her on a pedestal, treat her as a gift and never allow any harm to come to her...on my honor. Yes, I was a knight of sorts; given to the ideal that I, not worthy of her, would just hope for her happiness in any path she followed. That did and yes, it still does give me comfort.
In our senior year, I promised myself that enough was enough. Every instance to speak to her balked. No more of that. She is just the same as I, just a person. I had dated some, I had seasoned. I still felt overcome by her beauty, outside and in. We were leaving school, to go separate ways, lead our lives. I owed it to myself at the very least to not turn to a puddle when she looked me in the eyes as I finally introduced myself. This had been a very good example of what not to do when you want to meet someone. Whether you perceive them as fantastic or not, no preamble...just do it!
On the last day of our senior years I steeled myself for the inevitable. Pass or fail, yes or no, this was it and yes, it was way past time. Today was the day.
The last day of our senior year, she stayed home. I haven't seen her in person since.
Now it has been many years since I graduated school. Looking through my old yearbooks I read the remarks noted by my many friends, one come off the page and taunts me. Someone wrote, "Whatever happened to Velvet Hall?"
I've had many jobs, fallen in Love, been married and have two wonderful kids. As I stated beginning this story I am still dreaming of her. She had married, and recently was re-married. I have seen pictures of her and though she is older as I am, I still see her now as I did then. I don't know if I'll ever speak to her. I wish, hope and pray for her to have a loving, enjoyable life and all those she loves.