A Memoirist is Born
The winter I was nine years old and in grade four, my parents separated, and I moved away to New Brunswick to live with my mother and six-year-old sister. Forever. Or so I thought.
In an act of emotional valiance or sheer, self-immolating recklessness (I still have trouble telling which from which), I sat down and penned a letter to the boy I'd loved with every breath in my body since my eyes beheld him on the first day of second grade. The boy let's call him David O'Neill, because David O'Neill was his name was a dreamboat. He had the dusky olive skin and the thickly lashed dark eyes that are so prevalent on the coast I am from, where Irish and French blood mingle like salt and fresh waters in an estuary. He was quiet. He was smart. He was nice.
I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but I'm guessing the jist of it was, "You are smart and nice. I love you."
I vividly remember the spirit, if not the words, with which I wrote, the now-or-never imperative of a moment poised on the precipice of forever.
Forever turned out to be about nine months. My parents reconciled, and I returned to my hometown to begin fifth grade at my old elementary school in September.
A gentleman in possession of such a letter might write back, thanking the tender lady for her candour. He might rail against cursed destiny that he could not return her affections. He might make up any manner of excuse to lay a jacket of kindness over the mud puddle of her indiscretion: "I'm gay/engaged/sworn to the priesthood" are all serviceable white lies in such an instance.
I regret to tell you that David did not do with my letter as a gentleman might. He did not do as my own nine-year-old son would most likely do, which is shrug, toss it in the trash and go back to playing Star Wars. David O'Neill did the very thing you are fearing most he did, and took the letter to school and SHOWED EVERYONE.
My reputation never recovered. I am still thought of as that girl who puts it all out there. And in many ways, I guess I am.
David, if you ever read this, I hope you lost all your hair by twenty-five. Just kidding. CALL ME. No, better yet, WRITE ME.
I won't show anyone.