My High School Crush
My boyfriend, Francis, who lives in Portland, Oregon, had been here in New York for a few days. We were managing to pack every second of his visit with activities, like you do when you’re going back to where you grew up. There were people to see and places to go.
Last Friday, Francis and I were thinking we’d go up to see his mom, Jane, where she lives at the Hebrew Home for the Aging in Riverdale (the Bronx) and then go right from the Home to Yankees Stadium to see the game. He had mentioned months ago that he thought it might be funny if we went to look at The Bronx High School of Science, where we went to school together 31 years ago. I was… well… not so sure. There are a lot of bad, failure memories I associate with that place.
On Friday, he suggested we actually go do it, since we’d be up in the Bronx anyway. I said “maybe”, thinking “no”, and hopped in the shower.
10 minutes later, I came into the living room and he said he’d just realized that, with all the new-fangled security measures, we couldn’t walk onto the campus randomly. He said he’d just emailed the main office at Bronx Science and a woman replied that they love to see alumni and she could give us a pass if and when we came.
I guess we’re going back to school.
Francis was excited. He had a great time in high school.
I was nervous. I have dreams about that place all the time, and not good ones. I was actually kicked out of Bronx Science after my sophomore year for being a terrible and unpleasant student. That was after Francis, a senior when I was a freshman and my biggest high school crush, had graduated.
Our walk from the subway to school was chock full of memories. The delis were all in the same but seemed smaller– I used to get a toasted bagel with a schmear in the first one and a pack of Marlboro Lights and a coffee in the second. High school was different then.
We met Eleanor, the woman that Francis had emailed, at the security desk. She gave us a full tour, which was nerve-wracking and wonderful. I have fewer memories of the actual classes than the delis– go figure– but it all started to ring a bell once I was there. Francis ran into an old teacher that remembered him and they laughed about other teachers and students. Francis’ experience at Science was very different than mine. Very.
We were on our way out, walking by the auditorium and he said, “So it was around here when we said goodbye forever 31 years ago?”
It was the last day of school, 1984. He was a senior and he called out when he saw me in the hall. He wanted to say goodbye since he was off to Berkeley. He hugged me and I ached, knowing I would never see him again. We had never touched or kissed or anything. He was a senior, I was a freshman. It wasn’t something I even let myself think about. He was out of my league.
Then, 30 years later, he suddenly remembered me. It turns out that he had had a crush on me too and I lingered fondly in his memory. He found my website online and sent me an email. Our reconnection was instantaneous, even though we live thousands of miles apart. http://awonderlandofwords.com/invisibility-featuring-moroccan-chicken-with-saffron-tomatoes-and-honey/
“Show me where we were that day.” And I took him to exactly where I remember it being. He was standing there, where he stood, and I was standing exactly where I was that last day of my freshman year, feeling tingly and a little rattled, just like I was 31 years ago.
And then Francis leaned in toward me, looked right into my eyes, told me he loves me, and he asked if I would spend the rest of my life with him.
And I said yes.
Turns out, he set the whole thing up weeks ago. Eleanor knew we were coming and was in cahoots with Francis the whole time.
Francis, knowing how I feel about the whole marriage thing has kind of left it up to me as far as what we do. He gave me a ring that’s a simple and beautiful silver band. I love it.
He actually didn’t really even say “will you marry me” until we were outside Loeser’s deli, where we had the extremely romantic turkey on rye with extra russian dressing.
I said yes then too, of course.
All is right with the world.
He’s the one. Always has been I guess.
I’ve never been so happy.
Oh yeah, the Yankees won that day too.