Never before had I given girls a second thought as I was 10 at the time.
But on one Summer afternoon at one of those neighborhood fairs that people used to have before we were all afraid of child molesters, my eyes perked up to the sight of Robin. It was amazing. There she was wearing jeans and a jeans jacket. Her long blond hair was dancing to the tune of the wind as she ran over to area that I was visiting. Instantaneously, I was drawn to the widest, biggest, and friendliest smile I had ever seen before in my short life. Beaming is an understatement. It had all the excitement and innocence that a child has before the world gets a hold of them.
I don't think we even talked that day but I knew that forever, she would be a beautiful memory that I would keep forever.
The next time I saw her was in school after that Summer as she had just moved to Concord. We were not in the same class but in adjoining classrooms that in those days resembled wide open play pens with little structure. I'd steal a glimpse of her through the open door occasionally while she sat at a table with her other classmates creating that wonderful childhood art that our parents bring out to show us many years later when they get all weepy and nostalgic. Our eyes would lock. She would smile. I would smile back and then get immediately embarrassed and head back to the center of my classroom.
Since she lived in a neighborhood close to mine, we shared a bus ride home which was indescribably heaven-like, especially when I was able to sit next to or near her. After all these years, I have no idea what we talked about or how much we talked at all. All I remember was that I looked forward to getting on that bus every day so that I could bask in the beauty of Robin R.
So the year went buy and it being the end of our 5th grade in school, we both knew that we would be going to separate middle schools. The thought of not seeing her every day created the kind of childhood sadness that no parent can comfort. The last day of school, I sat with her in the back of the bus. The back, of course, being the cool place to sit. We talked, I'm sure, although about what I have no memory. All I really remember is the imagery. Just the pure beauty.
Well, the bus finally got to my stop , which was before hers, so I had to leave my beauty and get off the bus to face another Summer of relentless camp and other activities. I walked around to the side of the bus. The bus started to move up the street. My eyes were searching for her in the window and finally our eyes locked. She was sitting in the same back seat that we shared looking out the window at me. Not just looking randomly out but looking right as me. As the bus slowly pulled away, I wandered into the middle of the street with my eyes still locked on her sweet face. Then, and this image is forever locked inside my memories, she turned around in her seat never losing eye contact, raised her hand, waved to me, and beamed that big brilliant smile to me through the bus window. I thought I was going to faint! As the bus pulled further up the street, I returned her smile and waved at her with my arm raised high in the air wondering if I, ever again, would see this beautiful girl.
Well now that would be a tragic story if it ended right there. But, over the next three years of middle school, I'd run into her downtown, at the local swim club, or at the town library and we'd sort of look at each other not quite knowing what to do or say so we said nothing. In high school, she ran in very different circles then I did so we really never connected at all. There were just those fleeting moments passing her in the hallway between classes where the memory of her in the back of the bus would surge within me.
I never asked her out. It just seemed like it would ruin what once was. Besides, in high school, I was a pretty shy guy. And, I had no idea if she had any of the feelings that I had for her. So time marched on. I'd catch an occasional glimpe of her around town. I even saw her once in the grocery store and she looked at me, waved, and said hello. I returned the gesture but she was on the way out of the store and chasing after her like a forlorn lover would have been just plain awkward.
Then, many years later while I was working in an ad agency, the receptionist yelled to me as I was walking up the stairs telling me I had a call. I go to the receptionists desk and she hands me the phone and whose voice do I hear? Robin! The same feeling I had when I first saw her in her little jean jacket and when the bus was pulling away so many years before gushed though my body made me feel like that shy kid again. I was about 30 at the time I think.
We talked briefly. She was actually calling for our production manager and she worked for a printer at the time. The call was only about a minute. I don't remember the exact words but she, being as surprised as I was that the two of us where on the phone after all these years, said something to the effect of, "I can't believe it. I make this business call and I get my childhood crush on the phone". That single statement, if I got it right, put to rest the wonderment I had for all those years as to whether she even knew I existed. The relief was incredible. beautiful.
Well, no romantic ending. We asked the usual boring questions of each other: "Are you married?" Where do you live?" "Do you have kids?" "How do you like work?" Perhaps neither of us had the courage to say what we really wanted to say. At least for me, it would have been, "Robin, I fell in love with you that Summer day so long ago. I've been in love with you ever since."