Junior High began and I was as awkward as ever. I had gone to a private school for elementary school so when 7th grade came around, every elementary school kid made the leap to Churchill Jr. High and I felt extra isolated because I only knew my 2 neighbor friends, Summer and Amanda. On top of that, I tried my hardest to fit in wardrobe wise, but my mom had an extremely deep rooted belief that I shouldn’t conform to social norms, so she never bought me the name brand “in” clothes. I remember in 7th grade, Calvin Klein CK graphic t-shirts were the must have shirts. I begged for one! All the pretty and popular girls were wearing them and I knew if I wanted to “get noticed” I had to have a CK shirt. Christmas rolled around and on Christmas morning I had my dreams met! There in my pile of presents was my long awaited shirt, but my mom had gotten what was on sale, a giant men’s gray CK shirt. Like, night gown sized! That wasn’t stopping me. I threw it on after Christmas break, tucked it into my jeans as it awkwardly overflowed over my waistband and I headed to school. I couldn’t wait for all the friends and boys to come rolling in. Needless to say, that didn’t happen! The shirt didn’t help me with the fact that I was still incredibly shy.
I remember I was sitting in math class later that day. In need of a break I asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom and he gave me the hall pass. I walked alone in the hall and as I turned onto the upper hallway I noticed at the end was a group of boys. There at the front of the pack was the boy. The one that I had noticed for the first time all those years before, Steve Tate was walking towards me with his group of friends, the most popular boys in the grade. My arms went up to my waist and self consciously crossed over my billowy CK shirt. I didn’t have my 2 best friends to hide behind. I was wide open in the hall about to cross paths with Steve, my biggest crush.
My walk shuffled closer and I kept my eyes down to the floor. All of a sudden I heard a “Hi!” I looked up and Steve was nodding his chin up at me the way all the cool guys did and saying Hi to me!! I looked over my shoulder to see if there was someone behind me that he was talking to, but the hallway was empty. He really was saying Hi to me. So, in perfect awkward response I ignored him, kept my head down and walked past the group of boys! I am still mortified when I think about it! I was way too shy to even respond with a wave!
I was sure I had sealed my fate. Ruined all possibilities of ever talking to the boy of my dreams. I had no chance whatsoever of being able to dance cheek to cheek with him at the stomp to the hit K-Ci and JoJo song, “All My Life”….the scenario had played out many times in my head before and all of those dreams went up into smoke. I was positive he thought I was a weirdo. Years went by and I always noticed him in the halls. The image of me ignoring his hi would always flash through my mind and make me cringe as I walked by his locker.
High school rolled around and confidence in myself started to grow. I had begun to believe in my worth and I started to make friends outside of my safety net. I made an effort to actually look people in the eyes and it made all the difference!
It was sophomore year, and I was walking down the hall when down at the other end of the hall turned Steve. Walking toward me again in a seemingly dejavu scenario from 7th grade. I looked at him in the eyes and held my breath. There it was…a hi I will never forget and this time I actually responded! I waved and said a quiet Hi in response, like a regular person! My first Hi to a cute boy, the boy!
Steve and I became fast friends. I no longer was self conscious around him and I quickly fell for more than just his good looks. He was funny and had the sweetest smile. He knew how to make me feel like I was the most beautiful girl in the room and I always made my way to his locker for a daily flirt session. We didn’t go on a date until Jr. Year but we had developed a genuine friendship and I was crazy about him.
We didn’t date consistently until halfway through our senior year. We had both dated other people and Steve in particular had dated lots of other people. He was the epitome of a jock and a total ladies man. The girls were always vying for his attention. I didn’t blame them but I couldn’t wait for the day that he and I became “official”. It was senior year, right after the State semi final football game and we were cuddling at my house. He finally kissed me and it was, not even exaggerating, perfection! Sparks flew like nothing I had ever experienced. We were inseparable after that. Every day was spent together and our friendship turned into a sappy high school love story.