Today, my heart sprints in nostalgia. Today, old memories come back to life!
I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. I have tucked my head in romance novels so much, that I indulge and drool in daydreams. Let me tell you a story about my first love. It’s a story that I’ve entombed in the confines of my heart for years and years. This was long before I learned to read love stories in books or even began to watch them in movies. Today I am unearthing everything and tossing every pain I felt in the ocean of forgiveness. Today, I choose tranquility over hoarding memories of pain and misery.
I lived my childhood enthralled in fantasies. Every night, I’ll dream and fantasize away. Even in the daytime, it was one fantasy or another. In my young mind, I was a princess in a fairyland, awaiting my Prince charming to rescue me, like the Cinderella story.
Fairies were my illusory friends. I even had names for these fairies and a mental image of what they’d look like if they were real. I’d draw pictures of these fairies on paper and paint them in vivid, beautiful, smashing colors; then I’ll paste them all over the four walls of my room. My room was my imaginary castle, where the magic happened. That pretty much sums up why I helplessly fell in love in 5th Grade.
In 1998, my parents had just enrolled me in a new school to complete my elementary education. I walked into the 5th Grade Classroom of High-Grade Elementary School, head bent like a naive Chicken. I hated to be the center of attention in a crowd. I was going to be in Grade 5-White. Each class was split into White and Green to avoid over-cluttering many students in one classroom at the same time. The moment I walked in, the classroom became as silent as an empty stadium, all eyes fixed on the new girl —me!
I was ushered into the classroom by Mr. David, our Ghanaian class teacher. I still remember his funny jokes. He also loved to whistle and wiggle. He had the best vibe and soon won my heart as my favorite elementary school teacher.
Everyone looked lovely in their red, checkered school uniforms and for a minute, I felt a sting of jealousy because I had to wait the whole week to have my own uniform sewn. I was introduced to the class and like a Lab Rat, newly out of the incubator, I sat in the front row, beside a girl named “Jane.”
Soon, it was break time and everyone trooped out to play, have lunch, or ease off. I was too shy to mingle, so I decided to sit back in the classroom and have lunch. As I heaped the first scoop of rice, I noticed a nerdy boy with glasses staring at me. My heart froze, then skipped a beat. He smiled and I smiled back. He waved and I waved right back. Soon, he shyly dashed out of the classroom.
Even in those glasses, he was the most handsome boy I had ever seen. My heart began to thrum frenzied melodies. Even though I was too young to understand many things, I knew my heart was telling me something and it wasn’t playing tricks. I didn’t quite understand what love meant, but my excitement level at that moment couldn’t pass for anything else, besides ‘falling in love at first sight.‘ It was the best feeling I had ever felt in my ten years of existence.
Then the obsession started. When classwork and assignments were due, I’d ensure that I submitted my notebook right on top of his; and whenever the notebooks were dispersed to us by the teacher, I’ll excitedly await the moment our names would be called after each other. It infuriated me whenever anyone tampered with the arrangement of the stack of notebooks on the teacher’s table or even tried to put their notebook on top of his. Soon, I noticed a girl called “Miss V” was getting too close (or at least trying to). I think she sensed my obsession with him and tried to come between. Whatever her intention was, she soon made it to my list of “prowlers.”
Months passed and we would constantly smile at each other and speak in languages that no one else understood— just ‘Us.’ We didn’t speak to each other very much, he wasn’t much of a talker and neither was I; but our hearts unified.
He was the class captain and whenever the teacher implemented a ‘NO-TALKING-RULE‘, and I broke it, he avoided writing my name on the list of “noise-makers”, which triggered the rage of the rest of the class.
The year 1999 marked the end of the school year and the completion of our elementary school education, as we all transitioned into Junior-High School. The day of graduation came with mixed feelings. While everyone else whooped it up, my heart was heavy with thoughts of the likeliness of never seeing Dee again.
“How can I live without the only person I love to see every day? The one who makes me smile, without saying a word. The one who makes me laugh without cracking a joke. The one who makes my eyes sparkle, without igniting fire?!”
I proceeded to High-Grade high school and on my first day, I met some classmates from elementary with whom I bonded and soon evolved from familiar strangers to friends. It was nice seeing familiar faces, but I hoped and prayed that he would attend the same school. One week passed, but he didn’t show up.
I began to drown in my ocean of thoughts and no one could save me.
“Who would understand that an eleven year is madly in love?“
Two weeks passed with no signs of him. I was worried to my teeth, but just like an interlude moment in a movie, he walked in. He was ushered into the classroom by the school Principal. My heart leaped in excitement. He was quick to notice me. He winked and I winked back. I was the happiest girl on the planet. My entire year was made!
I’ve been so engrossed in this story that I’ve not mentioned his name. His name begins with the letter D, so I’ll call him “Dee.”
Dee’s arrival birthed a new chapter of a perfect, wonderful love story. He would pass love letters to me, and I’ll toss mine, in return. It was just me and Dee, in our perfect, little world.
In the second term of our first year of junior high, our school director stomped into our classroom, hence interrupting the ongoing class activity. He called out five or seven of us (Dee included). Everyone feared the school director and more so, he rarely stomped into classrooms, unless someone was in trouble. We all thought this was the case, but we were wrong!
The school director had come to offer us an opportunity that’ll change our lives. He commended us for our impressive academic performance and implored us to join the 7th Grade class (with permission from our parents or guardians). We were granted double promotion from 7th Grade to 8th Grade.
Being in the same class with those we formerly considered “seniors” was weird at first, but soon we started to tag along. A group of girls in the class didn’t like me very much and it was obvious. The major ones were Miss X and Miss Y. I felt uncomfortable in the classroom; almost like I didn’t belong there. The class mostly seemed cold, and lonely. Only Dee kept me sane.
There was always some sort of competition between me and Miss X. From comparing looks to comparing skills and so much more; everyone seemed to compare us in one way, or another, which only drifted us further apart (even as we were never close from the start). We were a perfect example of Tom and Jerry, only that we never really got physical, but the fact that we didn’t really like each other was obvious.
The more the girls tried to throw shade at me, the more my love for Dee increased, and the more I tilted my attention towards him. I remember getting in trouble with my mom after confiding in a classmate called Miss N about my fears of losing Dee. Miss N divulged the details of our conversation to her dad and he told my mom everything. My mom was very disappointed in me, to say the very least. I remember being grounded for a long time.
I didn’t mind being punished for love. I loved Dee too much, I could take a thousand punches and more for him. What saddened me was the treachery by Miss N whom I thought was my friend.
”How could she snitch on me?!”
That day, I learned a very vital life lesson, which was to never trust anyone again (at least for a very long time, I stuck to my decision).
Soon, 6th Grade was over. 7th Grade rolled by super quick and soon we were Seniors.
At this point, we had to split classes. Dee proceeded to Science class, while I proceeded to Arts class. Gradually, we began to drift apart. I’ll write him letters but he won’t write back. Soon, I noticed he had become quite close with ‘Miss X’, ‘Miss Y’, and everyone else who didn’t seem to like me very much (mostly students in the science class). Our love castle started to collapse before our eyes.
After months of silence, we finally got a chance to catch up and make-up. It was our end-of-the-school-year party. Prior to the event, I had carefully selected my outfit for the party. I wore a lovely lilac sleeveless blouse, over dark blue hipsters jeans. My hair was braided and tied up. I looked ravishing and I knew it. Dee marveled at how gorgeous I looked and he was quick to pull me over to an empty classroom. We talked about our hopes and dreams for the future. He told me he aspired to be a Medical doctor. I told him I wanted to be either an actress or a writer. We talked about building our lives together after school and for the first time, he held and kissed my right hand. My heart froze! Memories of that moment lingered all night and all through the holidays.
School resumed, we were now in the 8th Grade and I thought things were back on the default, like old times. To my horror, Dee drifted even farther away from me. I was helpless, clueless, and needed answers, and Just when I thought I’ll lose my mind, Dee tucked a letter into my hand.
I jumped for joy and dashed to a quiet place to read my lover’s letter. My heart raced like Usain Bolt. I couldn’t wait to be mesmerized!
That letter broke my heart and changed everything. Dee was breaking up with me!
Dee was leaving me. Dee wished me luck finding someone better. He stated that he needed to focus and I was a distraction. I couldn’t hold back the heavy drops of tears, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. Like a muddled puzzle, I was shattered into pieces. I asked myself a million questions:
“What did I do wrong?”
“Dee, why are you leaving me?”
“How do I face the world alone now?”
There was no way to conceal the extent of my grief. It was the worst day of my life! I felt sick to my stomach and I remember missing school for a whole week. It was like being struck by fever but worse.
Weeks after the break-up, I found out Dee was now in a relationship with Miss Y; Miss X’s best friend. I also heard that Miss X hooked them up. I hated and dreaded each day of school. I hated Dee! I hated Miss Y and Miss X. I hated everyone! My heart dripped R-A-G-E and to make things worse, everyone in class joked about it.
“You are spiking holes in my heart, without even understanding the gravity of your actions. What’s good about making jokes out of someone else’s misery? How can you play such games with my heart? How can you be so mean to me? I’m just a girl madly in love and you all took that love away from me. How insensitive?!”
Soon, we were in our final year of high school and set to write our final exams. I made sure to finish first on the day of our final exams. I knew there would be goodbye hugs, kisses, and other pre-graduation emotions in the air and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I dashed out of the school gate without saying “goodbye.” I ditched the graduation party and also avoided several reunion events, even years after our graduation. The day of our final exams brought me so much relief because I finally got to lose the shadow of everyone that caused me pain.
The trauma and depression resulted in me becoming an antisocial teenager with low self-esteem. This continued until College. I doubted people’s motives and couldn’t trust anyone or risk being friends, no matter how nice they seemed.
Shortly after High school, a source told me Dee’s relationship with Miss Y ended just as quickly as it started. I’m smiling right now like I smiled when I heard it the first time. The surmised breakup didn’t bring Dee and me back, but hearing that they broke up gave me some sort of relief. Maybe their relationship truly hit rock bottom, perhaps it didn’t, I wouldn’t know and may never even know because I never got to catch a glimpse of that part.
- Life update:
It’s been seventeen years since my first love ditched and left me in the cold. The last I heard, Miss Y is now a Mrs, but she’s not married to Dee. (Can I make a toast to this?! Just kidding!) Dee is now a Medical doctor. I’m happy he fulfilled that dream. I lost interest in acting and pursued a different career path, but I still write part-time.
I sincerely forgive everyone involved in this story. I totally understand we were all young and clueless about our actions at the time. We are older and wiser now, and I sincerely believe we are all better people. This story isn’t intended to offend anyone. It’s a significant part of my journey towards healing and learning to forgive and let go. It’s the story of how I’m learning to escape from the hutch of pain, anger, and low-self esteem—a place I resided for many years.
Through the events of high school, I have come to learn some life lessons:
”Fall in love but do so with your eyes open. Have friends, but be careful who you trust. Don’t hold on to pain for too long. Keep secrets, but don’t bottle up the ones that affect your peace of mind. If someone hurts you, let them know. If they apologize, that’s perfect, If they don’t, that’s okay! At least you’ve let your feelings out and you’re free!”