Fifteen years old and in the back seat of a charter bus heading down I-95 en route from a field trip to New York City he told me he loved me. He proved it by licking the bottom of my shoe. I have been chasing that feeling ever since.
I remember what I was wearing: Mary Jane Dr. Martens, Bull Dog jeans, a red tint in my hair. We had gone to see Rent with our high school's English Honors Club, an association we had both joined as a front to get around my father's watchful eye. We didn't go for the show tunes, but for the 18 hours of un-chaperoned time we would spend hand in hand on the Big Apple streets and tucked away in relative obscurity under thick winter coats in the bathroom-adjacent three-seater aisle of a bus.
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We were in PG-13 heaven on the ride home, splayed out like contortionists over arm rests and seatbelt buckles. It was all new to me, of course—this feeling of connection and affection from another person.
I told him about my mother, and how she had died and how the eight years following had been so lonely and isolating. "I think you might be the first person to have actually hugged me since it happened," I told him.
Before he could respond, something hit us. Snickers from the front of the bus made it clear that we had been privy to an audience. We crawled out from underneath our canopy to a deluge of health center condoms. Upwind, an intimidating group of seniors were hooting and hollering the most obscene things.
I was mortified and burst into tears. He threw a handful back, exchanged some choice words and began to tend to my hysterics. Always gifted with a flair for the dramatic, I pushed him off and carried on. It seems strange now, looking back, that this was the scene that preceded the first expression of true love in my life.
But it was. A wiped away tear. The stroking of hair. A hug and an assurance that everything would be all right.
"I love you Claire, and I would do anything for you," he said.
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And to prove it, he lifted my Dr. Marten and gave it a kiss.
So now that I've shared my "I love you" story, I hope you're in the mood to share yours at DivineCaroline. If you do, you'll be entered to win a $250 gift card!