When I was in fourth grade, there was a really cute kid named Alex in my class. One day — perhaps it was during a boring fractions lesson or while learning about the history of Virginia’s Piedmont region — I caught Alex looking at me. And not just casually looking, but really, really looking in a way that suggested he might have a crush on me.
I remember feeling shocked (and flattered) because I was not part of the clique of girls that fourth grade boys usually had crushes on; in fact, I was furiously treading water to keep myself out of dork waters. But despite my massive caterpillar-sized eyebrows and spherical gold-rimmed glasses, Alex kept staring, apparently utterly entranced by my beauty. I gave him a shy little smile, but he didn’t even blink, just stared back at me, completely fixated on my face.
After the lesson, we were granted a bathroom break and I rushed to the bathroom to fix my hair and make sure I looked my best. I had an admirer now, after all. But it was there I discovered that the pen I’d been mindlessly brushing against my face for the entire lesson was uncapped, and I’d managed to fill my face with 30 minutes worth of squiggles and lines. It was not my beauty Alex was entranced with, but my madness. I mean, I smiled at the guy and continued to paint my face with what must have appeared as unhinged deliberateness to him.
I’m reading a book called An American Childhood by Annie Dillard and it’s helped me remember so many things from my childhood. If you were a highly inquisitive child interested in the natural world (and have a particular affinity for literature with a strong sense of place) I highly recommend this book. It will help you remember what it was like to be a child.