Her name was “L”. I had a crush on her in 6th grade. I didn’t even know what that meant. I still don’t.
I guess you’d call me a late bloomer. I guess you’d call me shy. The first girl I dated, I met her my senior year of high school. She was young and sweet and it was easy because nothing about her scared me. “L” terrified me. My best friends don’t even know about her. Mrs. X was never jealous of “L” because I never even spoke her name.
I remember that 6th grade class. She wore this black leather jacket with zippers all over it. She looked so cool. She had dark dark dark brown hair. She probably still thinks it’s black hair, but it’s not. When the sun shines through it, it had a golden glow that gave her a halo.
One day she called me on it. I didn’t know what to do. I think I was just silent. I was terrified. Even then, I had stared down bullies without fear. I had already learned the lesson that no one can take your dignity, I had grown up with that song. I knew how to stand up against anything. I laid all my pride at her feet, she could have every fiber of my being. How could I keep my dignity?
That moment made me who I am. Every time I’ve said I love you since then it is in tribute to her. Life would have been so different if I had stood tall and said “Yes. I love you. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever laid my eyes upon in this world.”
I don’t know if she’s married and has children now. I don’t know if she’s divorced or in an abusive relationship. I know nothing about her. I’m not even friends with her on facebook. I do know that I owe her a thank you, so here it is.
Lisette, I don’t know what you meant when you asked me, directly, like a fearless 11 year old girl in a leather jacket, if I liked you. You were a fearless child. You were a fearsome angel. I thank you for setting in motion this plan for the universe to turn me into a man capable of saying what I love about people to the people I love the moment I love them. I hope you have in yourself at least that much of what you made grow in me. I hope everyone can love like an angel in a leather jacket. I will always carry that image of you with me. I liked you then. I loved you then. I still love the piece of you I have carried with me. I will always love the piece of me that grew out of that moment.