Sam I Am
When I was go down to the river and squeeze my toes in the mud little, the run out the door while my mother yanked my hair into a braid just before I went rollerblading little, the draw on the sidewalk with the rough edges of rocks and whistle using blades of grass little, the tooth fairy's most visited child and grass-stained jeans and knees little, I fell in love with Sam.
The first day I saw him, I just knew. He was out in his front yard playing basketball with his brothers and friends. The sound of the worn rubber ball slapping against his beat up driveway was one that made my heart replicate the speed of a hummingbird's. He was beautiful. He had dark chocolate hair that was sometimes lined with red under the brash orange street lights that lit up half of his homemade basketball court. The freckles on the bridge of his nose and cheeks were so light, they might have only been memories of sunny days. He was the first boy I had ever loved.
I wasn't very bashful when I was young. I was outgoing. When I danced, I lifted my skirt up just like I had seen on TV. When I played, I played rough. And when he played, he played kind. When we played basketball, or tag, or hide and seek, I pushed, I shoved, and I tumbled and fell to the ground multiple times a minute. He blocked, he dodged, and also tumbled a time or two quite often. On bike rides to the nearest gas station where a little mini mart andTaco Bell kept us fed during the summers, we would race. And we would always be drenched in desert sweat by the time we were eating our Nachos Supreme.
Over walks to the river where we would sit patiently in the muddy pools and catch tadpoles, I asked you deep life-revealing questions...like when your birthday was. It was the same month as mine. I couldn't believe it! And even more important, you were almost exactly 2 years older than me. My father was almost exactly two years older than my mom. This was a sure sign that just like my dad and mom, one day we would be married too. . . This was of course, before my parents had split up. Back then, our October birthdays and two year distance in age confirmed our destiny.
You were my love. You were my everything. You were the first boy I knew I would marry. You were the first boy I wrote a letter of love to.
...And you were the first boy to make me run home crying when I learned the harsh reality of the fact that young boys thought love letters were hilarious.
Still, my heart held strong. Your friends were there. You didn't want to look weak. You didn't want to lose face amongst the boys with your skateboards and hair gel (a newly acquired style in the late 90s and early 2000s that I disliked but thought you could pull off). I would be the girl that understood that. I wouldn't hate you for laughing at me. I would love you more.
After your sister's wedding when you snuck out to the front yard with the boys, I followed. Your white hand-me-down dress shirt sleeves were rolled up to your elbows and your tongue poked out just to one side when you made layups. Your black slacks were already dirty enough to confirm a yelling from your mother, but they looked cool when you did tricks on your skateboard. You were so perfect, so lovely, such a wonderful boy...of course you loved my love letter. Of course you secretly wanted to return my love. Somehow, I told myself, you would.
And somehow you did. Through chocolate. And the best kind of chocolate. Chocolate kisses. You left them at my front door, at my window, sometimes under the willow tree where we met up to play truth or dare. How did I know it was you? One night, I saw you set an entire bag of chocolate kisses at my door and ring the door bell just before taking off bare foot into the neighborhood streets. The next day, I had exclaimed how thoughtful and lovely the chocolate kisses were in front of you. You stayed quiet and your eyes never left the floor, but your lips turned up towards the heavens, and a smile is a smile. And your smile was a smile I thought I would see everyday, forever.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of Sam, a shy but short-tempered, once-white Hanes T-Shirt wearing, bloody and scabby boy running around in his bare feet in the grass and dirt and mountains.
I moved away. We're not married. We don't talk.
But sometimes when I hear the sound of a dirty, flat basketball being dribbled on dusty concrete, my heart still beats a little faster.