With Dread

When I was in fourth grade at Sacred Heart Academy in Ocean Beach, a new student came to class. Her name was Stephanie. She had golden hair, freckles, and a smile that caused heads to turn. After seeing her in class three or four times and talking with her a little, I soon developed a crush. We would talk to each other every now and then and make fun of each other, just for laughs. The years went by, and I still could not stop thinking about her. Then, in around sixth grade, I gathered up enough courage to ask her out to lunch after school. She came back to me the next day and she said that she "already had a boyfriend," which I interpreted as a lie from the way she said it. That idea pretty much crashed and burned, but I didn't give up.

Toward the end of our eighth-grade year, I had a plan: to ask Stephanie to spend the day with me at Disneyland on our graduation field trip. I sent notes to her and talked to her frequently about the idea...and I finally confessed how long I had wanted to have her as more than just a friend. A few days passed, and on the last day of school, I went up to her and asked for her decision. She said that she wanted to be "just friends" and that she wanted to spend the whole time at Disneyland with her friends.

So, the day that was so much talked about among classmates finally came. I didn't talk to her; she didn't talk to me. I sat next to my friends on the bus and she sat next to hers. When we got to Disneyland I felt pretty gloomy, but I was still happy to be there. At the end of the day, I tried talking to Stephanie a little. She turned away after I said a few words and started talking to my best friend in an excited, giddy tone, asking how his day went.

From this experience I learned an important lesson that can be summed up by this quote: "It's not lovers who get married, it's best friends who do." -- Jonathan Cardeiro, Point Loma H.S.

I was in eighth grade at the time, and I fell for him hard. He rode up to our group at the park on a beat-up BMX bike, and I couldn't take my eyes off of him. After a few days of not being able to get him off my mind, I started to ask my friends about him. They were subtle questions, such as what his name was and what grade was he in. My friends caught on and then began to try and get us to be a couple. Naturally, I didn't stop them and was excited, hoping that he and I would get together.

Thanks to the efforts of my friends, he and I began to talk and hang out more, although we didn't have any meaningful conversations. I was so overwhelmed by this huge crush because I had never been so interested in a boy before. Hanging out with him and my group of friends seemed to always be embarrassing. They knew how much I liked him and would always pressure us into acting as a couple and to be "flirty" with one another. I didn't mind too much; I just never knew how he felt and they didn't either.

After a few months of this "does he like me?" phase, the heartbreak came; he told one of my best friends to tell me he didn't have any feelings for me. I was crushed. I didn't know what to do. He was part of our group of friends, so it was impossible to try and avoid him. I spent a few months crying and moping. My friends helped as best they could, and so did my parents, but when you're heartbroken, nothing matters except the hurt you're feeling.

One day I snapped out of the hurt and realized that I was moping for no reason. He obviously wasn't feeling guilty about breaking my heart. Everyone had been trying to tell me that from day one, but I had to come to that realization on my own terms. After that, I started finding new boys to be interested in and having a good time with my friends again, even with him around. He and I became good friends. Now I know to handle my relationships on my own and to get to know the person before letting myself develop such strong feelings. -- Chelsea Kennedy, Madison H.S.

I was in kindergarten when my heart was trampled. Her name was Rosie. Memories are few, but they are vivid. In the classroom, colorful cubbyholes lined the wall. Children crawled, climbed, and chatted. I sat in a corner, skimming books upside down while Rosie sat beside me, racing Tonka trucks down the carpet. She was a tomboy with red hair and white freckly skin. She'd wear a puffy polka dot dress that made mothers cry, "Oh, she's darling!" It was a rainy day at Parkway Elementary School in Rancho Peñasquitos when all hope was lost. It was story time just like any other day, but a new kid was present. His name was Kevin, and he had blond hair and blue eyes. When he'd walked into the room, Rosie's eyes trailed him like a tail on a comet. She gave him a massage that day. I think back now and it all seems inappropriate, but back then, it was only heartbreaking.

I confided in my friend, David, about my adoration for Rosie. We sat next to each other on the bus ride from school. One day, as Kevin got off the bus at his stop, Rosie offered him a hug. He smiled at her and she grinned at him as he stepped out into the drizzle, his babysitter waiting for him.

I never told Rosie how I felt. I didn't know how I felt; I just remember not being a part of something. Jealousy flowed through all 60 pounds of me. -- Andres Perez, Valhalla H.S.

For as long as I've been "aware" of the opposite sex, I have never had much luck with boys. That lack of luck became evident in grade school, with my first true crush. His name was William. He was tall, athletic, and the object of most other barely adolescent girls' affections. We were in fifth grade, and we had recently come to understand the concept of dating. Perhaps it was a bit early for actual dating, but this idea of a crush was new and exhilarating to the point where it was about ready to burst out of me. To my shame, it did burst out when I revealed my feeling to one of my closest friends, Anthony. Confident that he would keep my secret, I told him everything. I then watched with dread as he ran to tell William. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me, but in vain. By the time I got there, William knew, and all I could do was walk away, horrified that he hadn't made any effort to return my affections.

One year passed and nothing had changed. I was still mad about William and he still seemed indifferent toward my crush. One math class changed all that, though. We were sitting at a table with a few other kids, and one of the other girls at the table was quizzing him on who he would go out with in the class, and she soon asked about me.

"Well, I don't know," William said. "We've been friends for so long that it would just be weird. So, I guess not. Right, Rachel?"

I looked up from my math work. I nodded. I couldn't do anything else. I was too surprised that he'd rejected me publicly.

So much for my feelings...I never revealed that I had a crush on anyone to any of my friends again. In fact, it became such a phobia of mine that I had to watch as multiple crushes went out with other people. Only recently was I able to break out of my shell and tell someone that I liked him. It took me six years to do that. -- Rachel Oliver, Madison H.S.

Although there have been other cases, probably the most drawn-out incident of me directing my affection toward someone who couldn't care less was in eighth grade. Let me start by saying that I was a rather naïve eighth grader, so that didn't help my cause; on top of that, the object of my affection was an extraordinarily mature eighth grader, and she knew it, too. At my middle school, eighth-graders could elect to go on an East Coast trip, a weeklong excursion; this was when it all started. Although guys and girls weren't allowed to share rooms, I spent every other waking moment following her around. I would try to do everything with her, and she didn't seem to mind much. Basically, she had me wrapped around her finger, and I was too stupid to realize it.

While I can't remember if I ever came out and said it, I did everything I could think of to find out if she liked me. I talked to her friends, to the girls who were her roommates on the trip, and I even talked to her ex-boyfriend, a friend of mine, to try and find out what kind of stuff she was interested in. I did everything except what I should have done -- come out and said something to her!

Toward the end of the trip I thought I had struck gold. We were coming back from a Yankees game, and I was sitting next to her on the bus. When she fell asleep on my shoulder, I thought the world was about to end. At that point, I knew for sure she had to like me. Sadly, the moment was ruined when one of her friends took a picture of it; after that, she was unhappy with me. I was crushed. -- Grant Barba, La Jolla H.S.

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