February 13, 2018
Hot sun beat down on the old asphalt track. Whistles blared and indistinct plays were shouted across the field. Cheerleaders in Soffe shorts sat on the track and stretched as they caught up on the latest gossip. Side glances were shot at the sweaty players on the football field between snippets of the latest gossip. I sat in the circle of cheerleaders, silently participating in the chatty group. My lips didn’t move, but my ears caught every word.
It was the summer before freshman year. I was slowly transitioning from the shy, homeschooled girl to the timid high school freshman cheerleader. The more friends I made, the more my confidence grew. Even though my confidence was growing and my shyness slowly fading, I was—and always will be—a quiet introvert. I soaked up the conversation between the other girls. “Did you hear what so-and-so did? Can you believe she would do that? What about them? I hear they’re dating now.” The conversations and topics were all new to me. So, I sat there, listening without making a peep.
Unlike my confidence, my crush on Joey hadn’t changed a bit. I still thought he was cute and I’d heard his last relationship from 8th grade had ended as quickly as it began; he was single. Today he was among the sweaty players on the field. So, naturally my eyes darted across the field trying to locate him as I stretched my hamstrings. There, there he was! I’d caught him in my sights. To me, he looked incredible. From a distance, his black uniform paired with the evidence of hard work was so manly. Butterflies went crazy in my stomach. My heart skipped a beat.
The girls around me were now talking about which boys they found attractive and who was dating who–typical. They asked if there was anyone I found attractive; I couldn’t lie. “I really like Joey,” I blurted to the group. The girls looked at me with solemn faces and let me in on the latest gossip. Joey in fact wasn’t single. There was a new girl in town and he’d already asked her out. My heart caught in my throat. Can I not catch a break?
Joey crushed my heart, again.
I: Middle School Band, Day One
II: He likes me, he likes me not
III: Summertime Crush
IV: Royalty and Selfies
V: Cookies + Texting
VI: Gas Station Hugs