48: My First Love

48: My First Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School

My First Love

No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny
without leaving some mark on it forever.

~Francois Mocuriac

Jack Hines. His name will forever remain in my memory and in my heart as my very first love. I was a mere twelve years old when I first discovered my feelings for him, and he was seventeen. I think people tend to dismiss crushes from their younger years as silly and naïve, but even typing his name now, I am overwhelmed by memories of him I feared I might have forgotten. I can see his name scribbled over all my notebooks, varying from “Jack Hines, Chase Hines,” “Chase and Jack,” or the standard, “I Love Jack Hines,” always with tiny hearts floating nearby. I can see him in his green Jeep Cherokee, pulling into the school parking lot each morning with a smile on his face. He always seemed to have a smile on his face, and then in turn made me smile.

He was grinning from ear to ear the first time I ever laid eyes on him. Our entire school had meetings twice a week where anybody could get up in front of the school and say whatever they wanted as long as it wasn’t offensive. I attended a small school with around five hundred kids in total, middle school and high school combined, so these “town meetings,” as they were called, always felt intimate. Jack Hines was a town meeting celebrity.

I was at my first town meeting, zoning in and out of the never-ending announcements, none of which applied to me, when there was a break in the monotonous droning of faculty members and Jack Hines took the microphone. I quickly snapped out of my daze, and focused every fiber of my being on him and whatever beautiful words were about to come from his mouth. He stood, smiling at everyone, and he seemed a little bit nervous as he coyly asked, “Do you guys want to hear a story?” I had to restrain myself from shouting, “Yes! Jack, I would love to hear a story.” If you were to close your eyes, you could have heard in his voice that he was smiling, and it made him so enjoyable to listen to. He could have been giving directions to the airport and I would have been just as enthralled.

He told a story about how he snuck out of his house when he was grounded, to give his soon-to-be girlfriend, Sarah Johnston, a cupcake on the eve of her birthday. He had the whole school captivated, faculty included, and we were all laughing. Everyone kept glancing back to a beautiful girl who was laughing and blushing at the same time. I assumed this was Sarah, and wished I could be in her shoes. Jack Hines had a crush on her and that qualified her as the luckiest girl in the world.

Jack Hines’s sister Kaylee was in the grade above me, and she and her friends had invited my friends and me over for a sleepover. My heart sped up when I heard about the invite. I would be going to Jack Hines’s house! No, not just going—sleeping at Jack Hines’s house. My mind raced with questions. What would the house be like? What should I wear? Would he be there? The last question was the most important but, alas, he did not grace the sleepover with his presence. My friends told Kaylee of my love for her brother and she thought it was adorable. The next thing I knew, the whole school knew about my feelings.

It was amazing how easy it was for me to wake up every morning and go to school, knowing that at some point in the day I would see Jack Hines, even if it was only for a moment. He was now well aware of my adoration for him, and he always made a point to smile and say hi to me whenever he saw me.

Valentine’s Day was upon us, and I watched as various classmates of mine received roses and pink notes from their admirers. I wasn’t disappointed when no roses were dropped on my desk because I wasn’t expecting any. I reached the end of the day and I was at my locker, packing up my books and binders for the night’s homework when I heard him say my name behind me. I have never loved my name more in my life.

I turned around in astonishment, not fully believing that Jack Hines would be standing behind me, but there he was, in all his glory, smiling contagiously. He handed me a pink note with a rose, and said in his beautiful voice, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” I stood there smiling and blushing like a fool, and watched as he turned to walk away, feeling like someone had just handed me the key to my own utopia. My friends had been watching in the wings, and immediately ran up to me squealing with delight. I still have that note which simply read, “Happy Valentine’s Day Chase, Love Jack Hines,” in all capital letters.

May came around and it was time for Student Council elections. Before each grade voted on their class representatives, the whole school voted for their two presidents—one policy president and one events president. Jack Hines and his best friend, Tyler Madison, swept the polls to become arguably the best, most attractive presidents any community has ever seen. I was inspired. I needed to be a part of Student Council, so I ran and won. I stood in front of my class, acting like I was really interested in improving school policies, when I may as well have just said, “I love Jack Hines, and this is the one way I can spend time with him.” I could not wait for next year. There would be meetings and events to plan, and most importantly, there would be Jack Hines.

Eighth grade was probably one of the best years of my life thus far. I saw Jack Hines all the time. He even took me to the doctor when, during a student council meeting, my eyes turned bright red and were itching uncontrollably. The doctor diagnosed me with pink eye. I looked at Jack by my side and thought, “Thank God for pink eye.”

It was only fitting that one of the best years of my life had the most magical, memorable endings, one that I remember as if it were yesterday. The middle school dance took place on the night of our last final. I was looking my best, or so I thought at the time, and showing off my best dance moves, when Jack Hines strolled onto the dance floor. Faster than I could comprehend that he was there, he burst into a rendition of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” a la Top Gun. He swooped me in his arms and we danced to the song. It was so beautiful, the only thing I could do was stare into his eyes and try to remind myself that I wasn’t dreaming.

Every now and then that song comes on the radio, and I smile as I remember the days when I loved Jack Hines.

~Chase Bernstein

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