I had my first boyfriend in fourth grade. His name was Matt, and he was determined, despite or perhaps due to the powerful elementary school-level battle of wits he and I fought on a daily basis. He pitched the woo pretty heavily throughout second and third grades, but I wouldn’t give him the time of day until he came back after one summer missing a thumb due to a freak dune buggy accident, and suddenly, I was intrigued. He’d raise his hand during class and tell the teacher, “Sometimes my stump itches, so I have to blow on it.” The teacher would nod, and Matt would sit in his desk (first desk, first row) and blow. I would pause, my pencil poised over my workbook, and stare, transfixed. When he passed me his standard will-you-go-with-me-check-a-box note that fall, I tried to be coy and make the “maybe” box like always, but he knew he had me.
Every Christmas and Valentine’s Day for two years his mother would buy a teddy bear and Snoopy card for him to give me, which I would acknowledge by nodding and sliding them into my book bag, never making eye contact. Once I wrote MB + SB on the side of my turquoise Converse All-Stars, though, and he was so excited I like to think it made up for all my years of pretended indifference.
I broke up with him at the end of fifth grade in a grand and empty closet cleaning gesture before middle school. Every single note he ever wrote to me is still in a cardboard box in my old closet at my parents’ house. I would recognize his handwriting if I saw it today.