05/08/2013 08:45 am ET Updated Jul 08, 2013

The Crush


He touched me. Not in any way lascivious or anything. Just a simple soft brush across and down my shoulder in acknowledgement that he had seen me. No words were spoken. Just the touch. I loved him for that. I always had...

I remember the first time I laid eyes on him. Third grade. It's funny when you grow up in a small town that you end up knowing certain people your whole life. Can't say I really knew him, but I knew of him. I fell into him on the playground and that was all it took. Didn't know then what that feeling was or meant, but I knew on sight that there was something special about him. My innocent admiration of him was immediate. I suppose he didn't know what that feeling was at the time either, but he saw me too. He simply smiled. Years later that moment would come back to somewhat haunt me. Back then I didn't know that I had just stumbled into my very first crush. Silly me. If my eyes were truly the windows to my soul, I should have had the sense to temper the blinds.

By sixth grade a lot had changed. Especially within me. But I wasn't the only one. Raging hormones between all the sexes was forcing its way to the surface way beyond leaps and bounds. By then we all knew what that look meant and it was hardly fully innocent. For me, I had blossomed out before my own eyes, and when I saw him, well, that thing from the past was like a burning flame racing throughout my entire being. Call it heat, or passion, or just aching preteen desire to be close to someone who had stolen my childhood heart. It had nothing to do with sex, not really, but something more unnamable. Three years later and just looking at him pulled me back through time. I longed for him. Maybe somewhat physically, but mostly, I just wanted to be near him. Still, he never said a word. But he did smile at me sometimes. Just a friendly gesture, really. He always did that in the passing years. With everything else going on in our young lives, I felt that was more than enough to hold on to. The fact that we had never held a conversation was a minor issue to the overall means.

And then there was a high school. Just the mention of that place can be summed up as pure hell. The world of love, sex, lies, and heartbreak had at one point or another affected nearly all. To me, in this final introduction to adulthood it hardly made sense to chance your deepest emotions to anyone. But that is exactly what I did. I loved and lost as anyone else. Almost too much. I suffered my despair in the shadows. He was so popular I figured he didn't have time to notice. Just before we took our final walk into freedom, I heard in a whisper that he had said that he knew me. I didn't know he even remembered my name.

Class Reunion -- Twenty years later. Standing in a crowded room with a bunch of people and faces I could barely recognize. But still, old emotions came rushing back upon me as if my past was flashing before my eyes. And then across the room I saw him. Time had been very good to him. When he smiled I saw that he noticed me too, so I turned and headed in the opposite way. I was cornered by another childhood friend when he moved to touch me. Just a simple soft brush across and down my shoulder in acknowledgement that he had seen me. No words were spoken. Just the touch. I loved him for that. I always had. I guess I always will...