This was a writing assignment for En 12.
"Tell me about your first crush."
I always thought I matured earlier than my peers. While they were busy playing hide-and-seek, there I was in a corner, nose stuck in a book I recently borrowed from the library. While they were under the heat of the sun, I sat down, preferring to talk with others who would pay attention. My friends tease me for having “no childhood.” It wasn't like that. I’d rather be with my books than chase others in the field. I found better company and the much needed solace in them than with pesky little boys and girls.
My ideas were different that theirs, as well. I was nine when I began thinking about the notion of love. Maybe because my grandmother was a big fan of mushy telenovelas which feature a boy and a girl ending up together. Maybe it was because of too much reading and having lived in fictional worlds. Maybe because I grew up hearing fairy tales and watching them onscreen. There’s always that promise of a happy-ever-after, a world where true love goes without bounds. No, I wasn't a girl who dreamt of a knight in shining armor appearing on the doorstep who will eventually sweep her feet off the ground. Well, maybe somehow I was. However, I knew it wasn't time yet. I was far too young. Still, the thought was exciting, something that made me look forward to growing up.
All the boys in my class never appealed to me. It seemed funny that almost all of them had a crush on me all because I was the new one. I was the unfamiliar face in the well-known terrain. Still, I never liked anyone. They were just too naughty, too silly, too caught up in their own little worlds full of cartoons and matchbox cars.
Then there he was. We always belong to same homeroom class except for one. Almost all of our teachers were rooting for the two of us. They all thought our pair would last. I believed so, too.
Having a crush on him was something I never intended. I never liked him in the beginning. He was arrogant, slick, rich boy who doesn't seem to even speak Filipino. I had to endure him all year during second grade as we always belong to the same group. Then, as luck would have it, I was assigned to sit next to him in third grade. However, to my surprise, he was no longer the proud one. Most of the time, he kept quiet and doodled all day long. His hair would cover his eyes as he did his work but that didn't bother him. His desk was always a mess, always cluttered with crumpled pieces of paper filled with random sketches. I didn't mind that we were not in speaking terms. Most of our conversations only happen because we had to exchange and check each other’s papers. Still, it seemed that wherever I go, he was there.
Then, out of the blue, one classmate blurted out that he had a crush on me and that was why he always seemed uneasy when I was around. If it weren't for this, I would have never seen him in a new light. That was why he even cleaned the classroom on Tuesdays although he was assigned to do so only on Mondays. That was why he always sat close during assemblies. That was why he couldn't talk to me as coolly as the other boys did.
He was my first real crush, the one that remained with me through the years. He was behind all the short, tactful notes passed in secret, the clichéd code names that made everyone curious and guessing and the playful shoves and banters made by classmates and friends. He was the partner in default in many contests, class plays and Valentines. Thoughtful in ways other cannot see, he always remembered to call on my birthday when everyone was busy with their summers.He had a talent with words. I still have all his letters with me. Looking back, it was only through them he got the courage of talking to me.
What we had spanned for almost four years. I never understood what actually happened but maybe we just grew up. We just found someone else that caught our fancy. Although there has been no “us” for a long time, people still remember when we were together, impishly hinting we could give it another try. But no, we both moved on and accepted that we could be friends for now. Who knows what the future will bring?
Having a crush made me understand how it feels to like someone. It motivated to do better as I wanted to be someone he’d be proud of. Having a crush felt like pushing myself to a standard, that I shouldn't settle for what was expected, that I could be better if only I tried harder.
However, it also made me realize that I was so caught up with the idea of love, that mine was a very narrow perception based on accounts not really my own. I realized that it was too early for commitment. It will come someday and I’ll be ready. I’ll be grown up and time will let me develop that ripe understanding on what love truly stands for.
It had been long since then. Still, I treasure those memories: the kilig vibes whenever he comes near, the wondering whenever he goes absent without notice, the folded pieces of paper with random conversations and the total devotion without a tint of reality. After all, he was just a crush. No more, no less. Still, he is a part of my past that would always be worth remembering.