We were 12 and in our first year of high school. I wouldn't say that it was love at first sight- it took me a good few months to fall for him. We were in most of the same classes and Shaun was a bit of a class clown. He had curly hair and glasses and was one of the popular kids. I wasn't. He started teasing me, and my friend Ruby said that he must fancy me, but I told her she was mad. Boys like him didn't fancy girls like me. Not that I was ugly or a social outcast or anything - I was just a bit quieter and a bit less obsessed with my looks than most of the girls in my class. Melissa, one of the popular girls, took a shine to Shaun and starting flirting with him whenever she got the chance. I remember being a bit gutted, 'cos it meant that I didn't have a look-in. She died her hair blonde one day- that was strictly against the rules- and our teacher Mrs DePlessis gave her double detention. Melissa didn't care. She only cared that it got the boys' attention.
When Shaun invited me to his birthday party I was genuinely surprised. I almost said no as watching Melissa flirting with him would have been too much, but I agreed to go along if Ruby could come too, which he said she could. It was a pool party at his house and Melissa wore a tiny pink bikini. I just wore my black school swimming costume like I always did. It hadn't crossed my mind to get a new outfit for the occasion.
It was a hot sunny day, and all the boys were showing off, dive-bombing into the pool and splashing the girls who screamed obligingly. Ruby and I sat in the shade and drank lemonade. I did swim for a bit, but it was chaotic. I didn't want to be jumped on. I guess we were all still kids then, but we really did feel like grown-ups. We took ourselves so seriously. Shane's mum, who said "Call me Jenny," walked around, getting drinks for everyone and making sure no-one got hurt. I thought she was brave to have so many of us round her house. We left the place a mess.
After a while, I headed inside to offer to help Jenny with the dishes. There were so many. She seemed grateful, and handed me a tea-towel to dry up with.
"What are your favourite subjects at school?" she asked me as she washed up a load of cups.
"English and art." I replied.
"Oh, I love art! I still have one of my old paintings that I did in high school. Would you like to have a look later?"
"Yes please." I replied.
We got on so well. I suppose I was a bit of a geek, staying inside talking to an adult when I should be outside having fun with my peers. But that's just the way I am. After a while, Ruby came in too and we both admired Jenny's painting, which was a self-portrait, and very good. She was very pretty, with long auburn locks.
After lunch, Ruby and I were sitting outside chatting when Shaun came over.
"Are you enjoying the party?" He asked.
"Yeah." I said.
"That's good. How come you aren't in the pool?" He sat down next to me.
"Oh, it's a bit too full. I don't want someone dive-bombing on top of me." I smiled.
"That makes sense. You should come round sometime when it's a bit quieter." He answered.
"Really? Thank you. Yes that would be nice." I got flustered.
I noticed Ruby grinning at me and felt myself blushing. I wasn't used to this type of attention from a boy.
He stayed and chatted for a while with us, before joining the boys again for a game of lilo-races.
"I told you he fancied you!" Laughed Ruby.
"No, I think he's just being polite." I replied.
"Rubbish. Guys don't ask girls round to their place just to be polite. What planet are you from? Oh my gosh, there's Melissa. She looks annoyed."
I looked up to see Melissa staring at me, and not in a friendly way. She'd obviously seen Shaun talking with me. She sniffed loudly and walked away when she noticed that I'd seen her.
When my Dad came to pick me up after the party, Shaun again asked if I'd come round soon, and maybe stay for dinner?
I said that would be nice.
"See you on Monday, thanks for coming." He beamed.
"Sure, thanks for inviting me."
I quickly left, before I said anything stupid.
I went to his house for dinner the following Saturday night. His Mom was really nice again, telling Shaun how I also liked art. I got on ok with his Dad too, who didn't talk much. After dinner, Shaun showed me his new keyboard - he was having lessons. He played a Beatles song on it - 'I wanna hold your hand'. He wasn't bad.
Then he said "I really like you."
"Oh, um, I like you too," I replied, taken aback.
"I was thinking... would you like to go out with me?"
"Ok." I answered, feeling myself blushing again.
"Cool. Do you want to go to the cinema with me next weekend?"
I looked away and pretended to find a picture on the wall really interesting. I really didn't know how I was meant to act. I'd never had a boyfriend before.
His Mom seemed pleased when Shaun announced that I was his girlfriend. I think it was a couple of months later when she first suggested that she take us to the local art gallery. Shaun didn't want his Mom hanging around, but I said I didn't mind. She was driving us there and back anyway, so it'd seem rude to make her sit and wait for us in the car.
I had been to the art gallery a couple of times before, but Jenny really made the art come alive. She seemed to know an interesting fact about every painter. She also knew who the local artists were; she was friends with a couple of them. I was chuffed when she said she'd introduce me to one of them one day. I hadn't met a real artist before.
That was 30 years ago. I can't believe that the time has gone by so fast. I still feel like a 12 year old on the inside. We still regularly attend art galleries together. And the theatre. We recently started going to an art class at the local college too. We might even be in a local exhibition at the end if we're good enough. I'm enjoying painting and sculpting and drawing again - just like in high school. The difference is that I usually drive now. Jenny's retired but we still have lots in common.
And Shane? Oh no, we broke up years ago. We were 14 when I found out that he was cheating on me. With Melissa. She just couldn't help herself.
They only went out for a few months when he caught her cheating on him with a boy from the year above. Quite funny really - they deserved each other.
And that's the story of my first love. It didn't turn out like expected, but then it rarely does.