On Cinco de Mayo 1992 a boy in a trenchcoat asked me out in front of my school bus. He wrote in magic marker on his hand:
“I’D LIKE TO START SEEING YOU,” in confident but careful all-caps that trailed down his thumb, so that I had to turn his hand to get to the end of what looked like a statement but was actually a question.
22 years later I try to imagine him writing it. Where had he done this? At home? At school, during an idle moment in one of our more laid-back classes? What did he feel like as he wrote these words to me? There must have been anticipation, uncertainty. Excitement.
To think of a time when the sky was so blue and blank and open. I hadn’t yet betrayed him but I would, several times over, amplified each time. I will never be forgiven; he has made this clear.
On Cinco de Mayo 1992 I told him “OK,” and he held up another finger, on which he had magic-markered: “GREAT!” (I wondered – did he have a back-up plan for if I had said “No”? Did a different finger say “THAT’S TOO BAD”?)
I think we awkwardly hugged then got onto our separate buses. It was spring and we were 13 and I hadn’t yet hurt him.
I didn’t feel the sting of never until I was denied forgiveness.