Back in 2001 I worked at Shop Rite and encountered a girl who would be my first legit crush. She was someone who a friend at the time told me, “I think you’ll definitely like.” Well, he was right, only it took about six months for me to finally muster up the courage to talk to her consistently and not just the simple hey, what’s up, that I had a tendency to say when I was nervous around someone I liked. Ironically though, the thing that made me begin finally speaking to her on a consistent basis was that I wanted advice on how to talk to my high school crush. A topic that allowed me to break the ice with a question rather than a statement.Also ironic, was that at the time I was reading Romeo & Juliet in my English class and that day in particular we had read the part where it turns out that Romeo was more infatuated with Rosaline than in love, and would almost instantly lose interest in her the second Juliet appeared. Well, little did I know I was about to encounter a similar situation in my young life.
We began talking and did so until our shifts were over 2 hours later. (For those wondering, we both completed all of our tasks at hand like responsible employees) Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention that not until I got home that night that I realized it was also Valentine’s Day of all things. A couple weeks later, I mustered up the courage to finally approach my original crush, I was even late to my English class to do so, and I was never late, but sacrifices needed to be made. She wasn’t interested as I expected. Ironically though, when she rejected me, I didn’t care. As if my mind had lost the fear and hurt of rejection, I didn’t care, and looking back it was no doubt because my heart was already turning towards Jaime. When I told her that I finally talked to my crush, she hugged me and said she was proud of me. From that point on we talked every day we worked together for the next 10 months. And she made me smile every time I saw her. We joked together, we worked together whenever we could and we would go on break with each other every day. And even when she was moved to cashiering and she could no longer go with me (as cashiers were given set breaks), she saw me once and told me to enjoy my lunch. When I asked her how she knew I was going on lunch, she said that she remembered that I always took it at the that time, then we just smiled and stared at each other until a customer waiting in line asked for her attention. (Thanks dude. Not.) I’ll never forget that though, who could?
Another time, I was sitting on the floor in the bread aisle, working on the bottom shelf, when she came up to me while on her break, and told me to “scooch over pal”, and began helping me with what I was doing. We had such a special bond. One that recently, I’ve realized, I’ve been trying to find with somebody ever since I last saw her over 16 years ago. We shared so much with each other. The only thing I never shared with her though, was that I fell for her. I saw her as a co-worker who became my crush, my crush who became my friend, until she became someone I fell for. But I couldn’t find the fortitude to tell her how I felt and never did. I had multiple opportunities to express my feelings for her and hoped that maybe she’d express her feelings for me instead, if she had the same. But then I thought, I have to say something first, even if she didn’t feel the same, I had to. But I didn’t. She eventually left for a new job and with phones not being that common, and house calls beginning to be outdated, the bond faded.
I saw her a couple months later when she walked into the store, with a boy. My mind instantly thought it was her boyfriend. (I later found out it wasn’t). Caught off guard by seeing her, I asked her what she was doing there, yep, what was she doing in a grocery store? How ridiculous? When she was leaving, she said bye to me and I said bye back, knowing full well that it could be the last time I see for some time, and still nothing. As I worked on the end-cap of an aisle, I looked over to where she was standing at the customer service desk, and there she was, looking right back at me. A sign if there ever was one, as if the others I’ve mentioned weren’t, and still, nothing. A month later, I went with my mom to pick my brother up from work, a short distance from the Shop Rite we had worked at, and my mom told me to get down and let my brother know we were already outside waiting for him, and wouldn’t you know it, there she was. Standing directly across me about 30 feet away. My mind told me to go to her, to tell her how I felt, but I couldn’t. I instead went in to get my brother. When I exited, she was gone.
Years later I decided to try social media hearing about how it was able to reconnect people. I thought about who I wanted to reach out too or hope to reach at all. She was the first person. I found her profile and was going to send her a message. I’d been over her at that point for several years, but she meant so much, I wanted to see if we could reconnect and who knows, maybe it was still possible to end up together. But then, right there in all caps, it said that she was set to get married, the very next day. Amazing timing on my end as you can see. I realized then, it was never meant to be after all, or perhaps it was, but I blew it out of fear or doubt, either way, she was someone else’s love now. She’s out there somewhere, and today is her birthday, I always remember the birthdays of those who have or have had a place in my heart. Happy Birthday, wherever you are.