« Out of the mouth of a Bear | Naked »

He held my hand

December 07, 2005 | Category: In My Life

Every day, I drive the same way home after picking up Bear from Happy Montessori. Happy is about 20 minutes from our house, and along the way there is, like, a LOT of schools. And they all let out around 3PM and there is no path between Happy and home that isn't clogged with kids.

In the past 8 or 9 weeks, I've come to recognize some of them. The girls in the Barbie outfits. The punk kids smoking cigarettes and taking flak from the crossing guards. The loner ones, who I see day after day with their heads into the wind and no one by their side.

And there's this one boy.

My first impressions were of him walking alone. Back straight, no hat, hands in his pockets. He caught my eye the first time because I was stuck at the light so long that he passed me on foot easily through these two intersections by our house.

I realized over time that each day, he walks away from one of the public schools towards one of the parochial ones.

Handsome kid, maybe around 12 or 13 years old, somber face.

Then, one afternoon, I saw him standing on a corner, not walking. While we waited at the light, a girl in a parochial school uniform walked up to him. As she approached, they switched backpacks and then walked away from me.

Over the weeks, Bear and I saw that happen a couple more times. One day I said to myself, "I wonder why they switch backpacks..."

From the back seat, Bear said "He carries the bigger one, mommy."

I realized Bear was right.

So many afternoons, we'd pass him walking down towards that parochial school. And knew when he got there, he'd switch backpacks with his friend. And I decided I liked this boy, although I don't know him.

Last week, a cold day and traffic was snarled and slow. I watched the boy come from behind me and pass by on the sidewalk. I watched him get to the corner. I watched the girl approach and they exchanged backpacks.

And then they stood, looking at each other for a moment. He pulled off one of his gloves and held out his hand. I held my breath.

With a shy smile, she pulled off one of her mittens and took it. And the walked away, holding hands.

I exhaled deeply. Mistily.

...And suddenly it was the 1980's...

Early high school years. A warm house, a birthday party. And I, as ever, was an outsider. Sitting on the floor in a corner of the living room. A plate of uneaten food in my lap. Watching the clock on the wall until my mom came to get me.

One of the popular guys, John, was working the room. Talking, laughing. Somehow, despite my attempts to be invisible, he ended up in front of me.

"Come on," he teased, holding out his hand to help me up. "Join the party."

With a sigh, I reached out and stood up. Looking down at me, he smiled. He took my plate. And instead of letting my hand go, he entwined our fingers.

I stood, paralyzed, until he tugged me along with a quick grin.

For the next hour, we moved from room to room. Me standing quietly by his side, my hand inside his. I could feel everyone looking at us. I could feel their questions. Electricity and confusion running through me.

And when it was time to go, I gently pulled away and headed to the door. He followed. As I opened the door, I felt a hand on my back.

"Leaving?" John asked, making eye contact despite my sudden and abiding fascination with my feet.

I nodded.

He held out his arms, and I don't quite know how I ended up inside them. I just know that we went to a small school and most of the student body was in that house and it felt like every single one of them gasped when his lips found the curve between my lips and the dimple in my cheek.

"Good night," he said into my ear.

I nodded again, and tried to remember how to breathe.

He reached down and squeezed my hand and I somehow made it out the door. And into my mom's car. When we pulled into our driveway, I launched myself into the night. I remember running across the street and screaming at my friend's house. I remember shouting up to her bedroom window. I remember her face, as she stuck her head out and looked down to me as I waved my arm over my head.

"He held my hand! He held my hand!"


"Uh, what, honey?"

"Green means go."

I blinked and realized the light had changed. Down the side street, I could barely see the boy and his girl, their hands still clasped between them.

I pressed the gas, and we went home.

Share: Delicious Delicious! | Stumble It! | Slashdot  Slashdot It!
Tagged: Corporate, Mommy, Life


That made me think about the first boy I held hands with...ho-hum....when life was simple.

Posted by: Grace on December 9, 2005 11:23 AM

Chivalry is not dead. Yay!

Posted by: Jared on December 9, 2005 08:33 AM

Beautiful! Nothing like remembering your own "John" moment to put a smile on your face. Thanks for making me stop long enought to think back.

Posted by: Amber on December 9, 2005 02:02 AM

Lovely, Elizabeth. I'm teary and smiling at the same time.

Posted by: Kimberly on December 7, 2005 08:17 PM

What a great post. It's funny how little gestures can make you all gooey inside. I think I need to go find my hubby...

Posted by: HElene on December 7, 2005 07:39 PM

I have chills, really. That was so sweet.

Posted by: A.K. on December 7, 2005 07:07 PM

That was wonderfully well-written. Don't we all have those moments? And isn't it so bittersweet to think of them now....? I'm sighing here.

Posted by: Lucinda on December 7, 2005 04:21 PM

You made me cry.

Thank God for sweet boys.

Posted by: Robin on December 7, 2005 02:45 PM

OH.MY.GOD. I LOVE the way you write!

Posted by: Cathy on December 7, 2005 12:42 PM

It was like: Magic!

Thank you, E. I needed that.

Posted by: Margi on December 7, 2005 12:12 PM

What a great story. Thanks for sharing!!

Posted by: Eyes for Lies on December 7, 2005 11:14 AM