The human heart was—and remains—a mystery to me. But I’m learning. I have to. —Anthony Bourdain

Of octopuses and grade school

There is a running joke between my grade school friends and I, that we all used to be pogi, and now we’ve grown out of it. It’s always jarring looking at photos of us from the time, where nobody had a haircut lower than our chins, where you couldn’t wear a skirt outside the uniform without being made fun of, and being girly was almost a dirty word. It took me a long time to change my perspective, and moving schools was the only way I could grow out my hair to the length it is now (it took me about 2 years, and I’ve never cut it above my chin since).

It is to no one’s surprise that none of my crushes growing up felt the same way. Besides my non stereotypically feminine look, my gruff, unfriendly personality was the cherry on top. While I am not saying I’m any nicer now, I can count exactly one crush that (eventually) felt the same way about me. It is one of my life’s cuter moments, and even if I cannot name names now, but the five people reading this already know who it is.

I was telling friends this weekend about something I never got to do in grade school, because I never had a crush not want to shoo me away at the time. It made them laugh quite a lot, and I have to admit it does sound a little ridiculous to me now, but if I can find a way to do this, consider me happy.

You see, every year, there is a week of fun stuff at my school. There are rides, booths you can play games in and win things, and basically it’s a week of goofing off in school. It was a big thing. It was basically school fair week. We waited for it the whole year every year, and it was a big deal if a guy asked you to go on the octopus ride specifically. The ride was conveniently set up in front of our school building, and to go on it with a person of the opposite sex was a public declaration that they liked you (and also an excuse to get closer to you, or hold your hand) and most likely will ask you to “go steady”.

And believe me, holding hands in grade school? A hella big deal. (I mean for me, it still is. Holding hands and a kiss on the forehead? Pretty much the most intimate, everyday thing I think two people can share, but I digress.)

Our group of misfit girls never got asked to go on this ride, but the girls we were friends with, the ones who actually looked like girls, did. I had to watch as every single one of my crushes went on the octopus with a friend that was super popular (a friend I still see whenever she’s in the country by the way), and was well liked by everyone. Girls that were on the cheer squad, who got peppered with gifts every single Valentines’ day.

I grew out the hair, but I never outgrew the awkwardness. And while I have crossed off a lot of things in terms of milestones with men I’ve loved (and much more than I could’ve wished for, I’ve been pretty fortunate), this particular one evades me. I would like to think that if I luck out again in the future with a crush that isn’t a crash, there is a possibility of crossing this off.

But isn’t that the great part of the unknown? Everything is possible.

Do you have something from your childhood that seems small but you never got to cross off?

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