Starting in the first grade I had a crush on Isaiah. I wrote his last name instead of mine on my journals, little hearts encasing my 1st-grader scrawl. I tried to win Isaiah’s heart by hitting him in the face with a basketball (my fault, a terrible pass) and by giving him a wrapped Reeses candy and a note that divulged my ardent feelings. And later, well versed in the art of romance, I showed my love for him by stealing a prized school supply from his desk.
One afternoon in Mrs. Francescutti’s class, we all sat at our desks coloring away at a geometry project with crayons. I had been randomly seated next to Isaiah in the most recent seating arrangement, something I held close to my seven-year-old heart as a “sign we were meant to be together forever.” Sometime between the completion of my red hexagon and the beginning of my pink triangle, Isaiah got up to go talk to Jordan, his best friend, leaving his desk empty. A waxy yellow eraser peeked out from the cubby underneath his desk, cozied up next to a black sharpie and a racecar pencil sharpener. My hand lurched forward and grabbed it. I had never stolen anything before, let alone something from someone I knew, but by some sort of twisted logic, I thought people would just assume he lost his eraser and that I had been the heroine who’d miraculously found it—not that I had been the one to steal it in the first place. It was fool proof.
Isaiah came back to his desk, and reached his hand inside, searching for the prized eraser recently purchased from the Dolphin Student Store. Overcome with what I’d done, I stuck it in the desk of my neighbor, Annie, for safe keeping. I planned to wait for him to search all over for it, and then, when he was at his most desperate, be the one who found it on the floor. That was the plan—Cupid’s plan.
Just when I thought everything was going swimmingly, Annie held the eraser in her palm and raised her other hand. “Ms. Francescutti—Alexa stole Isaiah’s eraser and then stuck it in my desk.” Taken aback, I denied it fervently, irreverently, until the suspicious Ms. Francescutti led me by the neck next door, into Ms. Gangnes’s classroom. Ms. Gangnes’s class was in the music room, leaving their classroom (forebodingly) dark. It was as they played Frère Jacques on the glockenspiel down the hall that I experienced the first interrogation of my young life.
Okay, so interrogation may be a bit harsh; Ms. Francesscutti merely questioned me about what had exactly happened (how had the eraser traveled from Isaiah’s desk to Annie’s without their knowledge?), but to my sensitive temperament and guilty conscience she might as well have been water-boarding me. I immediately confessed, “I took it!” as she crouched down to meet me at eye-level. “Why did you take it?” she asked gently, softened by my passionate tears. “I wanted Isaiah to think I’d found it for him.” There it was, the truth, please have mercy!
But Ms. Francescutti didn’t take stealing lightly, and shouldn’t have. She left me in Ms. Gangnes’ dark classroom to let me think about what I’d done. I sat in one of those miniature plastic kid chairs and sobbed. I sobbed for my foiled plan, for getting in trouble, but most of all I sobbed for my unattainable crush.
Little did I know that in the fourth grade, my dreams would be (semi-) realized. We would roller skate together at the class Skating Party. Sure, he would have to be coaxed by my babysitter when the “Couples Skate” light flashed on, but I could’ve cared less: we were skating in circles to NSYNC and his sweaty hand was finally in mine! The sad, love-struck first grader in me beamed.
But past that one fateful night, nothing between Isaiah and I materialized. My crush on him dissipated as I entered the fifth grade and decided, quite maturely, to “focus on myself.” He went on to be one of the best basketball players at our high school when I was on the swim team and playing piano in the jazz band. We ran with different crowds and I hardly ever saw him. But throughout the years, if I ever noticed him walking along the green lockers or sitting in the lunchroom, my stomach would still lurch a little. You never quite forget your first crush.