His name was Manny. I’d like to say that I noticed him because of his chocolate brown eyes and killer smile, but honestly, I think it was because he stood about 3 inches taller than everyone else in class.
He was popular, always laughing and messing around with his friends. I was super shy. It was my first year in public school and I was still getting used to hanging out with 30+ kids for 7 hours a day. I can’t remember if I ever talked to him but I know I stared at him, and day dreamed about him, and even made some sad attempts at playing soccer in hopes that he would notice me.
When we got back from Christmas break, he wasn’t there. I figured he was sick and the next morning I woke up super excited to see him again. But he still wasn’t there. I looked for him every single morning as we lined up to go to class, and each time I was disappointed. My heart sank lower and lower.
I never found out exactly what happened to him. Some kids said he switched schools, others said he moved back to Mexico with his parents. I was too shy to ask, so I weaved my own story. I imagined he had gone back to Mexico to visit for the holidays and then wasn’t allowed back in the country. I pictured him happily adjusting to his new life, walking to school with his new friends, enjoying delicious tacos from a cart everyday. And maybe, when he saw a sparkling blue ocean, a really skinny stick or an ackward dog chasing a ball without being able to fetch it, he would think of me and smile.
My 2nd grade heart was pretty tore up by the disappearance of Manny. Eventually I moved on, switched schools, made new friends and gave up on soccer. But it would be 6 long years before my tender heart learned to love again 😉