At the age of 6 I fancied myself in love with the boy next door. He was everything a 6-year-old tomboy could desire, and he happened to be my best friend. Day and night we would run through the streets like a gang of little beasts. Scuffed sneakers, scraped knees and chipped teeth. I was all limbs, tall for my age and shy around people I didn’t know. But what I knew more than anything, more than I knew about the power rangers, that I was in love with him. For the sake of the secrecy of young one-sided love I will change his name. Tyler. He was a treasured member of my family and thought at one point he would become my dad’s successor. Of course we all thought at that age that my dad was a secret agent. And what boy didn’t want to be an agent, much less a secret one.
So, I spent the young days of my youth scampering after the boys of the neighborhood, trying to prove my worth. Much to the pride of my brother I was always willing to try something he would tempt me with. “Here, Coco, sit on this sled.” Ethan would shove me down the snow-covered hill. Coco, my nickname as a kid and what I currently am marked under on my parent’s cell phone, actually specifically Coco Bird.
I remember the games. Spider. Oh Spider, the game that beat all the rest. All the kids in the 3-block radius would come to our house, and the big field across the less than bustling street. Ethan and Tyler’s older brother, Tom would hold court over us all. We would hush as they stood on the steps of the front porch. “The rules of Spider…” Ethan would start… I would be scared, because it was a game that flooded a child with fear, excitement and worth.
One person would hide. Everyone else would get on the porch and count. After 100 we all would go hunt for the “spider”. If Ethan wasn’t hiding I was close behind him, we would all search for the hidden spider and if anyone caught sight of him they would sprint for their lives back to the porch yelling at the top of their lungs “Spider!” Everyone then hearing it would sprint, screaming “SPIDER!” back for the porch. The poor sucker who was tagged was the next spider.
It was the best game to play with a block of kids and the dusk of night setting in. Then Mom would shoo some kids home, other inside and dinner was ready.
Now dinner with my mom, that is something that I could never forget. Learning to cook with my mother is another story completely.
I still fancied myself in love with Tyler a year later when my parents put the house up for sale. I was still in love with him when I was living on a farm 25 miles away. I still was in love with him when I was 13 and saw him at basketball camps and games.
And finally I still loved him when I was 21 and saw him across the bar just a mile from where we both grew up next to each other. But I realized, I wasn’t in love with him, I barely knew him. I loved the 7 year old my 6-year-old self fell for, and that a part of me always would crave to have him grab my hand and drag me back to my parent’s porch as someone yelled “SPIIIIIIIIIIDDDDDEEEEEERRRR.”