A GIRL I liked gave me a love letter when I was 13. It was the best feeling in the world. She was a primary schooler, I was a high schooler, it was a perfect match except we didn’t catch the same bus. Her foster sister gave me the letter, and so began a series of letters written on Winnie the Pooh stationary.
I’ll go to high school each day, find time to write the letter, and return it to the sister on the ride home.
I visited their house on Saturday. There might have been some hand holding, and we kissed. She refused to make her friends leave the room because she wanted them to watch.
Best kiss I ever had.
Mustn’t have been as good for her though. She dumped me an hour later and told me there was another guy.
He went to primary school with her. It was a perfect match, apparently.
And I suppose I tell you this because it reinforced the idea the love letter approach worked. I discovered love poetry, and when I say “discovered” I mean I enjoyed writing it without having read any of the experts. And I gave it to another girl I liked for Valentines Day.
I should have plagiarised with something safe like:
how beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
I chose instead to write a love poem in Year 8 comparing the girl to various food objects. The line I do remember, as it repeated over and over, was:
You are as nice,
as nice as pie.
You always give everything a try.
You are as great, as great as tart.
I want you to be my sweetheart.
What possessed me? Love apparently. But it’s something the shy, creative writers did when they liked a girl. We had been influenced by the rom-com movies at the time like Can’t Hardly Wait which dictated this is what a guy did to attract her attention.
The years passed, with several love interests but perhaps one brief relationship made and died at schoolies. When I joined the Order I knew little of relationships except what I discovered in my young high school days eight years before.
There was a girl I met in the Order.
After her party I didn’t see her at all. Not for months. Not until the dreaded Christmas season.
At Order 614 Christmas is chaos. We’re warned about it all year. We collected money for the Christmas appeal at street corners and train stations across Melbourne, often with brass bands accompanying us. I heard the same songs on every shift, some I didn’t even know existed. And once we completed the four hour shifts we would return to work and work in the drop-in centre or wherever else we were rostered.
The last month in the Order was like this. It buggered me up. One morning after a early shift of collecting money I fell asleep in the drop-in centre. This was a dangerous thing to do. When the boss told me off I sneaked away into the basement and took a nap.
On top of this I was seeing Sally more. I wanted to let her know I liked her before I moved back to Qld. I suppose other interstate relationships in the Order’s history had worked. When exhausted every day all I would need for an emotional high was to see her, then I’d be smiling again.
One of the best and last infatuation highs I have had, just like the ones in high school. You just don’t get them so much in your mid 20s.
The combined mixture of all these emotions – from exhaustion to tingles – made me believe this meant something. And after a year of challenging myself to do more and be a better person I wanted to prove to myself I could ask a girl out properly. With advice from some friends I found her mobile and phoned her the day before the Order 614’s last church service of the year.
“Hi Sally, it’s Chris. The one who works at the Order?”
“Oh, hi, Chris.”
“Want to grab a coffee or something tomorrow?” When I write the question down it doesn’t seem so hard to say.
“What? Really? Are you sure?”
We arranged to meet for coffee after church the next morning. The first thing I should have done when I saw her there was say hello. But I was too shy, I ignored eye contact, I slouched and looked busy with my other friends.
So I shouldn’t have been too surprised when she walked to me at the church lunch, smiled, and said “I’m sorry, I just realised I double-booked.”
“Okay, maybe another time maybe.”
Nope. That wasn’t what she was telling me. So that night I decided to write a love letter. The best love letter I’d written yet. It started with:
You are as nice
As nice as pie.
I shouldn’t have given her the letter. These emotions were a culmination of the Order, and I knew I would be saying goodbye to the building and moving interstate again. I was making her some sort of anchor.
The next day she read that stuff I meant about “how beautiful and how smart and how gorgeous” she was. The last time I heard from her she described it as “flattering.”
And I would be tempted to use this post to apologise to her (and maybe to the former love interests I added into one Facebook group they all declined to join) for my behaviour.
But this is not to be a justification to her.
If it was I would not have learned my lesson.