The Art of the Recorder, Sister Wives in the Numbered Grades

This week’s post by staff writer Rachel Brownjohn talks about grade school love and best friends as sister wives tied together by young love.

I suppose I should have started with this. Begin at the beginning, as it were, but se la vie. ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end’, right? (Yes I just quoted Closing Time, deal with it.)

So, the beginning, my very first boyfriend. Not my first crush, mind you, for I had an active imagination as a child and dreamt that my kindergarten classmate, Adam (how appropriate, the first man!) and I would fall in love. We would tell our children of how we met when our eyes locked across the magic carpet, and during snack time, Fig Newton’s in hand, we knew it was forever. I can’t be certain that I ever once spoke to Adam, but I was young then, and did not yet know the ways of the world.

And then I grew up, and walked through the beckoning doors of the first grade hallway. There was a kindergarten graduation involved, we sang, “If we can make it there, We’ll make it anywhere, It’s got to be…First grade! First Grade!!!!!!”. Our teachers were genius in their originality.

After that it was on to the good stuff: love, in the numbered grades. With a new year came a new school. We moved to a new district, with new teachers and new classes, and most importantly, new boys.

Jack Bird was the object of my budding affection. I didn’t change his name, but if he’s reading this now I can’t imagine he’ll be anything but flattered. I was in love, and he was my boyfriend. I wrote a love note to him once, “Dear Jack Bird, “ it began (first AND last, like a fan letter to a celebrity), and I used to carry it to school every day in one of my silky socks. I never worked up the courage to give it to him. Instead, I wore a small pin with blue bonnets surrounding my name in cursive (which he had complimented once) to school every day, a token of my love. Sitting happily next to Jack Bird as we attempted to learn the art of the recorder, the metal clasp of my blue bonnet pin against my skin, I felt beyond beautiful.

I wasn’t Jack’s only girlfriend. My four best friends were all his girlfriends too. He would push us on the merry-go-round to the tune of, ‘Faster, Faster, We need another master!’, every day at recess. We were happy. Budding sister wives, we were contented to all be with Jack, to share and share alike. Jealousy never occurred to me, the situation was more than I could have hoped for. I had a boyfriend! Life was perfect.

I don’t remember when or why Jack Bird and I broke up. It was sometime after the love note in my sock started to fall apart at the folds, and before he ‘accidentally’ bleached his hair in the fifth grade. Whatever happened, I always remember him with a smile and a touch of longing for a time when love was as simple as worn notes in silky socks. A time when you could share your boyfriend with four best friends, and moving fast was only ever an issue on the merry-go-round.

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