Truth be told, I began chasing after boys in the first grade on the playground at the Homer Nash Kimball Elementary School in Madison, Ohio.
One day after school, I burst through the door of my house, ran into the kitchen while my mother was cooking dinner and declared, "I caught one! I caught one!" I explained to her that "the one" was a boy named Shane and I had been chasing after him on the playground for at least two months. Finally, I had caught him, I said.
After this matter of the heart had occurred, I was convinced that I was going marry this boy. He had already asked. We just needed our parents’ blessing and we would live in bliss in the tree house his parents were building for him. That bliss would include riding the teeter-totter, catching lightening bugs (one of the many things he adored about me), and sledding down the hill by the Grand River.
“But how do you know he really likes you?” my mother asked. “Maybe he’ll give you a Valentine.”
This question perplexed me and that sealed the deal for what was the first of many anxiety ridden Valentine’s Days.
I remember shopping for those little Valentine’s Day cards and begging for my mom to buy the ones with the heart-shaped suckers that you tucked into the envelope, making a little Valentine’s Day box for the cards in art class, using the heart-shaped cookie cutter to make sugar cookies and pressing those little Red Hot candies into the white frosting. I even picked a special Valentine for Shane and tucked it into the pocket of my dress.
I had planned to profess my eight-year-old heart to this boy and in my mind things would work out just fine. But as it turned out, I was starting to feel just a little queasy when I boarded the bus in the morning. Still, I was convinced that love would prevail and besides, I couldn’t bare the thought of not giving my heart to this boy. So, I didn’t dare say anything to my mom about not feeling well.
Now, the bus ride to the Homer Nash Kimball Elementary was at least a half-hour long. We rolled down and up these steep hills, bounced in and out of potholes in the road, and every time the door to the bus opened the smell of diesel fuel invaded my nostrils. And as I sat there with my bag of Valentine’s Day cards and my homemade cookies frosted cookies with the Red Hots, my stomach churned.
And let’s just say that love did not conquer all that morning in 1977. And, the cards and cookies were ruined. The bus driver was pretty mad at me. The school nurse had to clean me up. And my mother had to come get me from school.
I was heartbroken.
Shane apparently was not. After having to stay home sick for three days, another girl “caught” him and when I returned to class he told me that he was marrying her.
Looking back I realize little girls’ hearts are fragile and easily broken by their own dreams. Luckily mine mended. Now of course I look at Valentine’s Day as just a day to love yourself and the people you have in your life. But little girls don’t always know this. So if we're aware of this, we can keep an eye out for when "the one" got away.