The next school year, I found myself staring at him a lot, and looked forward to the end of the year party where I might have a chance to dance with him. Slow dancing was new to our class, and it was as romantic as things got for us at that age. The boy with his hands on the girl's waist, the girl with her hands on the boy's shoulders, arms extended forward as far as possible while rocking back and forth from one foot to the other. Mike had danced with Shelly for most of the party, who I foolishly decided to confide in. When I told her that I was hoping to dance with Mike too, she though it hilarious and ran to laugh about it with Mike and his friends. Bitch. I remember hoping that her antennae-like, orthodontic head-gear would get caught in the door of the bus.
By grade five, my crush was in full gear. It had the kind of uncomplicated intensity that I believe that only a pre-teen girl can muster up. Shelly had already outed me the year before, so I felt free to talk about Mike to anyone who would listen. Apparently, I even confided in my teacher, who I recently learned was a good friend of Mike's mother. They had a good laugh at my expense when Mrs. Teacher told Mrs. Mike that I one day whined, "I like him soooo much and he doesn't even know that I'm alive!" I was pathetic on two levels; one for actually saying that; and two, for actually telling my teacher. Yup. I was cool. I also may have read too many Archie comics and identified myself with Betty.
That crush lasted through to the end of elementary school, but fizzled out when we moved on to Jr. High, where the world opened up a little bit more. Mike and I had all the same friends, so we hung out every now and then, but it wasn't like when we were younger and I stalked him well enough to know where he lived, his phone number, his birthday, and the fact that his mouth opened whenever anyone took a shot on net during the foot hockey games that he played at recess.
Our casual friendship carried on through high school, and even through university when we e-mailed each other every so often just to catch up. It wasn't until after university that we started talking more frequently, visiting each other, and forming what I would consider to be a true friendship. It was then that I gained an appreciation for his dry sense of humour, his intelligence, and the overall good person that he is.
My eyes welled up with tears at the wedding when I saw Mike standing at the altar. As I held my husband's hand, waiting for the bride to march down the aisle, I found myself feeling reflective. Despite the tuxedo, he still looked like the Mike that I knew from elementary school, and I could so vividly see him in his old yellow and green hockey jersey that he wore almost every day in grade five. Thinking about that, I wished that I could see the face on my eleven year old self if I could tell her that she will be there on Mike's wedding day, that she won't be the one getting married to him, and that she will be thrilled just to be a part of it. My eleven year old self would never see this as an acceptable scenario, but my thirty-something year old self knows that a friendship like this is rare, and all that all that pining is just a funny part of the history that Mike and I share.