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  • 3rd grade. I spent every day staring across Room 112 at Evan, nearly drooling in disbelief as he effortlessly divided twelve numbers by seven numbers. He never needed the laborious process of long division that was my only option for even simple problems, three digits by two or less. He could just look at an equation, scrawled in his disorganized, curly handwriting and poof! an answer appeared on the page. He dispatched worksheets with incredible speed, and calmly asked Mrs. Weg for more to do, like she couldn’t keep his mind busy enough. That was enough. I was in love.

    I struggled with my Math problems and I stared at him. Evan screwed up his face into a scowl, stuck the tip of his tongue out of one or the other side of his mouth, and tiny beads of sweat accumulated on the end of his nose as he moved through one set of problems to another. Plowing through equations so advanced that I would never see them, he’d twitch and squirm in his seat, but never broke stride. I limped through the year, avoiding my Math workbook, dodging my parents’ growing anxiety that I was getting fat, forlornly opening a lunchbox to dry turkey sandwiches on Pepperidge Farm “Very Thin” bread, the slices never standing up to transport. It was the year I started to doubt myself. But there was one saving grace: by year’s end, I was Evan’s girlfriend. The smart boy liked me.

    And we stayed together, through 4th grade! Our dates were walks to the Corner Bookshop, where we’d linger and critique our favorites. Each Friday afternoon, he’d buy me a book: My Darling, My Hamburger. Bridge to Terabithia. Forever. He’d walk me to my Young People’s Musical Theater Workshop classes, stopping to buy me candy, and we’d talk of Sondheim and our favorite Broadway shows. I dreamed of growing up, marrying him and moving into his parents Classic 7 on the Upper West Side. We were New York City kids.

    Love lasted until the end of that year. The news of the end was delivered through a mutual friend, in the hallway, on the way to lunch. “Evan says you’re not his girlfriend anymore. He’s gay. That means he doesn’t actually like girls.”
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