"In every single letter, in every single word…there will be a hidden message about a boy that loves a girl."
“I should be at work,” I said to myself as I wandered around my mom’s classroom. Freshman year would be starting next week and there weren’t many full-time shifts left for me. Back in those days, as a mere fourteen year old, I worked at McDonald’s because it was fun. Earning my own money made me feel a little more grown up than I actually was. Not that I needed to bring home a pay check, but it was comforting to know that once I turned fifteen I’d have a little down payment for the Mustang that I just had to have.
There wasn’t a whole lot left to do in the room that my Mom would be teaching high school social studies in. Maps, charts, and cut outs of presidential busts were sticky tacked to the cinder block walls. All that was left was to push around some desks to get the best possible traffic flow. Teenage boredom weighed heavily on me as I drifted over to the window. From that moment on I have no recollection of anyone else and no clue what Mom was doing to keep busy. All I remember was him.
One story below me was chain link metal fence that surrounded a playground, which had clearly seen better days. The fact that the fence was old and in need of repair changed my life. He was there, standing with two other guys repairing it. From my place above them I could tell right away who one of the three was. Fred was the school administrator, Bible teacher, and youth pastor of our church at the time. He kept an approachable relationship with all the students and youth so I had my excuse to go down there. I absolutely had to get a closer look at him. Joking around with Fred and letting him get in a few jabs at my McDonald’s uniform was the perfect cover.
There is no better word for the way I got down the hall, down the stairs, out the double doors, and over to the playground, than “scurry.” I didn’t care if I got there and didn’t know what to say. I cared even less about arriving there completely out of breath from the jog I broke into. Youth and innocence gave me confidence and bravery. I just had to get a closer look at him.
“Hey There, Missy! What are you doing out here?” The look on Fred’s face as he greeted me was telling. He knew exactly why I walked out there and it wasn’t to discuss those new “McFlurries” that had just come out.
As we chatted, the other two guys worked. One was wearing…oh, wait. I don’t remember what the other guy was wearing. The one I came to see was wearing Carolina shorts and a matching white t-shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to frame his biceps. It was just him that I saw. The two stuck close enough to each other to be whispering. It pained me to not know what they were talking about. I shifted my weight every now and then to see beyond Fred, and to watch the muscular guy with the incredibly rosy cheeks work.
Who knew that watching someone swing a hammer could be so fascinating? There seemed to be a little dance going on. I would try to get a more direct look at him and Fred would jokingly step in my way. Finally, I gave up. It was time to retreat. There wasn’t much more I could learn about him without being more obvious than I already was.
I turned and walked inside, all the while feeling different. There was a magnetic force now in my life that was foreign to me up until that day. Every 14-year-old girl gets crushes, but this was different. It was indefinable at the time, but later I learned that the word for it is “love.”
~And the story is far from over! The first time I tried to talk to G.I. Joe, he got up and left while I was in the middle of a sentence. Wow, were we ever really that young and awkward?~