I'd had a couple of girlfriends in primary school. I'd play kiss-chase and write them a Valentine's day card, that sort of stuff. But it was in my first year at high school that I fell in love for the first time. I remember talking to my Mom about it (she is a cool Mom and never made fun of me.) Our conversation went a bit like this:
"Mom, can I talk to you about something?"
"Sure honey, what is it?" She replied.
"There's a girl at school, and well..."
"She's pretty and clever and I like her smile, and..." I said.
"I like her, I mean really like her."
"Oh honey, that's lovely. Do you think she likes you too?" Asked Mom seriously.
"I don't how, I mean, how do you tell?" I wondered.
"That's a great question. The only way you can tell is to ask her."
"Like, ask her to be my girlfriend?"
"Ya. Or tell her that you like her and ask how she feels."
"Oh man, what if she doesn't like me? What if she laughs at me?" I worried.
"That's a risk that you're going to have to take. Otherwise you'll never know and always wonder."
"But it's embarrassing!"
"It can be." She smiled gently and patted my hand.
So, on my mother's wise advice, I took the plunge. I invited Phoebe to my birthday party. She seemed happy to be invited, which gave me a bit more hope. But did she say yes just because she felt sorry for me? Argh- this love thing was tough.
I was so nervous before I asked her out. Dry mouth, racing pulse, squirming tummy- all the clichés. I nearly bottled it. When she said yes I couldn't believe it! I'd convinced myself she'd laugh in my face and run to tell her friend.
We got on so well together. We spent hours chatting, and she even took an interest in my cricket stories (I was on the school team.) I remember the first time we held hands - oh man. Mom liked her too. They got on surprisingly well. We went out for two years, and she was the first girl I kissed. There's something about first love isn't there? It's so uncomplicated.
But another girl, Melissa, had been flirting with me for a long time. I had ignored her at first. But so much attention is flattering, and she was very pretty. One day after school, she walked up to me and kissed me- just like that! I was annoyed at first, but then she kissed me again. It was nice. I forgot all about my girlfriend for a minute. I felt bad afterwards, but it was too late. Melissa told everyone at school the next day that we had kissed and she was now my girlfriend. I'd wanted to tell Phoebe myself about the kiss, and that I wasn't going out with Melissa, but Melissa got there first with her own version. So I spent that day avoiding Phoebe- I was such a wimp.
I did apologise to Phoebe later, but the damage had been done. I hadn't planned to go out with Melissa, but she latched on to me and it was easier to go along with it. She told me we were going to the cinema together that weekend and that I was paying, and I did as I was told. I know, but I was a teenage boy after all. We only went out for a few months before I found out that she was cheating on me with James, in the year above ours. One of my friends saw them kissing by the bike sheds. Classy. I shouldn’t have been surprised.
I haven’t seen Melissa since high school, but I saw on Facebook that she’s got divorced again.
Phoebe and I get on well now. She’s good friends with my Mom, which isn’t as weird as it sounds, and she’s like a surrogate auntie to my two boys. Mom and she have taken them to a couple of plays. Thomas and Harry are always so well behaved for them. They are 10 and 13, and have a lot of energy. I’m sure I was never that crazy!
Phoebe’s done really well for herself. She’s married to her job – a lecturer at the university- and has had some academic books published. Mom jokes that she’s the one that got away. I do like her – as a friend, I mean. I’m happily married to Helen – 18 years now. Man, I’m getting old. When you’re 12, it feels like every Saturday lasts a week, and you think you'll never grow up.