My first real crush was for a boy. His name was Preston and he played the trumpet. I noticed him when I was in 8th grade and he was in 9th. I thought he was absolutely beautiful. And that's about as far as it went. 8th grade was the year that everything kind of fell apart.
But I have another first crush, and her name was Valerie.
Valerie and I met at work. I was 21, newly married, both young and naive. She was 30, never married, a devout Jehovah's Witness with a goofy sense of humor. I don't remember the exact moment when we became such good friends, but we did. And once I knew I could trust her, I opened up to her and she helped me through some really difficult parts of my life. We became really close.
When I look back now, it's obvious to me that I loved her as more than a friend. I wanted to be with her every second of every day. I thought about her constantly, wondered what she was doing, who she was with, when I would see her again. I would have rather been with her than at home with my husband, and I even consciously thought that on a few occasions when I was at home with my husband. I treasured every hug. I loved being special to her. And I was.
We met weekly for a Bible study. She knew that I struggled with my own religion and she wanted me to have a closer relationship with God. I knew her religion was important to her, and sharing it was just as important. I was curious about her beliefs more than anything, and of course I jumped at the chance to spend extra time with her, but I also learned a lot from her.
I never thought about her in a conscious sexual way, but I was definitely attracted to her. We had a connection that was very deep and very meaningful for both of us.
A few years ago, she moved back to Pennsylvania to help take care of her parents. I haven't really talked to her much since then, but I still think about her.
As I've gone through the process of coming out and coming to terms with who I am, I've actually wondered to myself if something really could have happened between us. I think there was something about our relationship that scared her, because I remember her saying once or twice before she moved that she was afraid we were getting too close. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but I've found myself also wondering if Valerie might be gay as well. I know that her religion was pretty much her entire life though, so if she is, I don't think she could come out for that reason.
Regardless, I wish her the best, because I've never stopped loving her.