It was this date on a Saturday the year I was 11. It was pre-Valentine's Day, a time of great hope. I had always liked boys; I had been engaged to be married at age 5. But this was the year I began to REALLY like boys.
This was a huge secret, of course. It would be many years before I could summon the courage to admit to having any interest in boys. Is this common? Or is it related to being brought up by repressed Irish Catholic women who furtively whispered dire warnings in my ear?
Winters were harsh in the state of New York. The early February thaw that year was highly unusual. My pre-adolescent imagination told me that the break in the weather was a sign: Valentine's Day would be perfect. This is what would surely happen: Pat Lane, the love of my life, would profess his undying love for me. Then we'd have to quit school and get married.
My best friend Barbara and I shuffled through the slush- it looked a lot more cool than tiptoeing about, searching for dry spots. I can still see the melting snow, complete with its dirty black spots from having been around so long. Spring was in the air, undeniably. The sun broke through the clouds, signaling the end of a lengthy all-winter cloud cover. We unbuttoned our ever-so-hip jackets purchased last fall from the Army and Navy store.
Barbara had recently informed me that in bed, boys stick their you-know-what into the girl. I didn't believe it, not for one minute. Kissing, though, was plenty appealing, and holding hands, and hugging....
Our eyes squinted, unaccustomed to sunshine. Our ears perked to the birds' mating calls. We were eating heart-shaped Sweet Tarts candy, just purchased downtown. Then, in the distance, I heard a sound that stopped my heart. Could it be.....?
Gasp....... It was Pat Lane, playing a game of football with a group of boys in a parking lot up the street! Pat Lane had no idea that I lived for him. Barbara was equally clueless. This budding sexuality taking over my life was known only to myself.
I turned into a bundle of nerves. I wanted him to see us, but I was scared beyond reason. Was my hair a mess? Did I look OK? Did I look cool? Were my lips totally concealing the braces on my teeth? I didn't want anything to interfere with what was going to happen on Valentine's Day.....
Trembling, I forged onward with Barbara. We boldly marched, feigning disinterest, right past the boys, who, of course, totally ignored us. At age 11, back in the days when parents did not overschedule their kids, there was nothing more important than this. So we did it again, slowly making our way around the block and past the football game again, afraid to arouse their suspicion yet unwilling to pass up the opportunity to be near them. I suspected that she liked one of the boys in that group, but she, too, knew the rules. You don't actually ADMIT to liking a boy. Not at age 11, with spring in the air and Valentine's Day around the corner, when the sky's the limit.