The grown folks called it “puppy love” and snickered and laughed about it, but your first love was much more than that.
It was a lasting thing, etched for many, many years as a memory made.
It has been many, many, many moons for me, but the memories today are just as clear and as vivid as they were when they were made.
It started in the third grade at Virginia Street School in Goldsboro.
She, at the moment my eyes caught her eyes, was the most beautiful creature God had ever put breath into.
She was even prettier than a baby kitty.
Even at that early age, I almost went rabid in behavior as I saw her.
Her name was Karen.
She made me absolutely crazy and it got worse as every day of the third grade went by.
The summer was worse, or perhaps, I should say better.
I was even thinking marriage and wrestled with ideas of how to support a wife that knew nothing about rabbit boxes or how to catch a fish.
On top of that, she knew nothing about playing marbles or making a campfire.
What a dainty little thing she was. She smelled like a spring morning and the dew on a rose.
It was also the first year I got a bicycle for Christmas, and I spent countless hours riding by her house with high hopes of catching a glimpse of her as I slowly rode by.
I hoped, she was perhaps peeping out the window.
But for the entire summer she never made any attempt to acknowledge my outstanding bicycle skills.
I even mastered riding recklessly, using no hands on the handle bars, as I whizzed by her house and back again several times every single day.
I recall I had even sent her a note on Valentine’s Day, asking her to be my Valentine, because I loved her.
Persistence paid off. In the fall of the fourth grade the little sweetie finally responded to my heartbeat.
It was crushing news, and devastated this neighborhood fourth grader.
School had only begun about three weeks when she came up to me on the playground at recess and dropped the bomb.
I walked away from her and the school, too, and cried and cried in private.
I actually got sick and did not go to school for three days.
My sweet Karen was leaving me. She was moving out of state.
I remember her whispering in my ear. It was the closest she ever got to me.
The devastation was immediate. She was my first love and the hurt was the first ever for a fourth grader.
We never even held hands or danced the “hokie pokie” or shared love notes.
She was long gone when Valentine’s Day came that year, and I had no Valentine to give anyone.
In desperation, I asked my baby sister to be my Valentine until I could do better.
All that did was start a fuss.
William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.