We didn't think of each other as boyfriend or girlfriend. Heck, we were six. We didn't think much at all. My older brother and her older brother were friends, they played together on the soccer team that my dad coached, and our families lived close; so we were friends. We liked each other though. If there is one memory of Jaime that I'm absolutely certain of it is that floating feeling in your stomach, like just when a roller coaster has began a big drop, that a boy gets around a certain girl. Does that mean I'm not absolutely certain about the rest of this memory? Yes, yes it does. It seems too clear to be a memory from when I was just six and it seems too similar to a thousand scenes in books and movies to have actually happened. Sometimes, I think this is just something my imagination wishes had happened. So I doubt it but then when I close my eyes and think about it, it feels like a memory. I am certain something similar to this happened and this is the way I remember it.
We had been best friends for as long as we both could remember, which isn't long at that age, but we were always more than best friends. We would hold hands when we thought no adults were looking and when we were absolutely certain no brothers were looking. Our brothers would kid us about being boyfriend and girlfriend and we hated it mostly because it was probably true. We didn't talk about it or think about it, though. Somehow we knew that would have ruined it. So we just played together at soccer games, worked together in school, and held hands when we thought no one knew.
It was coming to an end, however. My family was moving. We were together for one last playdate. I don't know if our parents did this special or if it had just worked out that way. I don't know why it seems like we were alone on the playground. I don't know if our parents were giving us privacy by watching from afar or what. Neither my memory nor my imagination will supply these little details. I think it's because when it comes to memories it isn't the how nor the why that's important but just the what.
At the beginning of the playdate Jamie looked at me and said, "So you're moving." For a moment she looked as if she might cry. I felt like I might cry. Then she hugged me. It was a quick hard squeeze and I barely had time to return it before she let go and grabbed my hand. The times for tears was past. She was smiling again, as it seems like she always did, and she dragged me away to play.
So we played. We went down slides and climbed monkey bars and played a few of our favorite games that I sadly I can't remember what they were. It seemed like that afternoon lasted a day or two. We just played like children do. The only difference was that we held hands even more than normal. It seems like we knew that day was the last day so we didn't care who saw.
Then we heard an adult's voice call out. It was one of our fathers and in my memory it seems like it was mine. It didn't matter who said it, or what they said, the message was the same as it always was when an adult called out to us. It was time to go. That always made me sad. That's the other thing I'm absolutely certain of with Jamie in my memories. I was always sad when I had to leave her.
We sat down on a bench and ignored the adult for a little bit and the adult let us. That and the privacy given us most of the afternoon are much of the reason that I think it was my dad was with us. He has always been the kind of guy that understands things like that, the importance of moments like that in a child's life.
"So you're moving," she said to me again as she looked at me on that bench.
I nodded my head, pushed my big old glasses back up on my nose, and looked at her.
She sort of smiled and then bit her bottom lip and stared at me.
I could tell she was thinking really hard about something and it made me uncomfortable. I thought she might cry so I took he hand again.
Then she kissed me.
It was like the hug at the beginning of the afternoon. It was quick and hard and over almost before I had time to return it. We stared at each other's smiles for just a beat of a moment and then she let go of my hand and ran off towards whatever adults were with us. I stayed sitting for a moment longer. My stomach was doing that floating thing again and I was afraid it might fly away. Then I ran off in the direction she went. She must have already been in her parents car and gone because I don't ever remember seeing her again after that kiss.
I don't know how much of that memory is real and how much is imagination but I know something similar to that happened and most importantly I know Jamie and the feelings I had for her when I was six were real. It amazes me the way things like that from our childhoods stick with us. Since the end of my marriage I've been dating a different type of woman than the girls I chased as a teenager. Some of that is being older and having more confidence in myself than ever before. Some of that is the invention of internet dating and the advantages it gives me because I can charm most anyone with the written word. Some of that though, and I didn't realize it until I started writing this, is Jaime. For the most part, I've been dating blondes with blue eyes who are intelligent beautiful women that smile warm inviting smiles quite often; like the kind of woman I imagine Jaime became.