I'll never forget the day I met him. First day of play practice for Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". He was Lysander but I was no Helena. I was a high school freshman cast as a fairy. Little in stature and in notice. He didn't give me a second look, but at that point, no one ever did.
He had just transferred from a school in Texas. Austin, to be exact. To a Pennsylvania girl, that might as well have been Australia. It was exotic to me - getting to meet someone who hadn't grown up in the same county as I - and the minute he first flashed a smile at me, I was smitten. I didn't know it was love until some time later.
Fast-forward a few months. A new production, "Pippin" and I'm cast as Theo/Player. Lysander is now The Head/Player. We became friends. Many late night phone calls and borrowed books. He was a junior, so our friendship was kept quiet. I liked him, and he knew, but it wasn't love. Not until he shared his Starbursts with me.
Imagine a stack of pink, red, and yellow Starbursts on the arm of an auditorium seat. Now imagine a boy choosing to give me all the yellow ones - lemon - because they were my favorite. That's when I knew.
Years went by and we went separate ways. Nothing ever came of the Starbursts or my first love.There were glances from my locker, frantic blushes, apologies, goodbyes, boyfriends, girlfriends, graduations, engagements, changes, and months where I wore Dr. Pepper lip balm in quiet hope.
First loves can be both sweet and tart.