i don’t think i’ve been in love many times – maybe a handful, if that. and perhaps the romance i remember most fondly is one that occurred when i hadn’t yet hit puberty. it’s valentine’s day, and while there’s little i like about this day besides the fact that it means that hoards of candy will go on 75% off sale first thing tomorrow morning, the 14th of february always brings to mind the best love note i’ve ever received.
when i was five, i was madly, obsessively in love with the son of one of my mother’s friends. we happened to go to preschool together, which meant that even though he was a year younger than me, we attended the same school. a few years later, when i was in second grade at the local elementary school and he was in first, he came in one day toting a handmade love note. i have the crispest, clearest memory of the card itself, which is a small miracle considering how much weed i smoked in college. it was made from two pieces on construction paper glued together; the front was orange, the inside, pink. on the outside, scrawled in crayon, were the words, “i love you.” inside, there were poorly-rendered hearts, and my name, and his.
i have never in my life been more proud of a piece of paper than i was of this love note, so it’s not surprising that i showed it to anyone who would listen, including the recess lady, a 60-something woman in a hairnet. much to my horror (and surprise), she snatched it out of my hands, tore it up, and threw it down the drain, proclaiming loudly, “you are too young for love notes!”
but i wasn’t. i wasn’t too young at all. in fact, i’d been in love with the boy in question ever since i’d seen him at preschool, and i continued to have a thing for him up through middle and early high school, when i’d purposefully lay out on the rock wall in front of my home, “sunbathing” during warm summer days, because i knew he and his friends would be riding their bikes around the neighborhood. then, of course, as it happens, we grew up and went away.
and then, he moved to new york. and we started spending a lot of time together, and one drunken night, he ended up in my bed, and i spent the late night hours staring at the ripples in his back, wondering how i’d ended up spending the night with the boy who’d written me a love note at the age of 6. because i’m a hopeless romantic, i fell asleep dreaming of what would happen if we ended up together, the stories we’d tell our children about first grade love notes on the playground.
of course, the night didn’t last, because as always, the sun rose, and things looked different in the morning. and then he moved to california, and that was the end of that.
but even so, it’s nice to know that once, a long time ago, someone wrote me a love note. it’s a memory i keep tucked away, one that i pull out when i’m feeling slightly sorry for myself, like i generally do on valentine’s day. so here, self – have this memory. don’t lose it, or let it get dusty. keep it in a safe place, will you?