We got to the school before the dance was to start, so I was one of the first people inside. Im usually always early for things, this night was to be no exception. I found a seat over near the door and fashioned myself as ladylike as possible on the metal surface. I felt the cold bite at me through the thin dress. Again, I began to look at my shoes, noticing exactly in what direction the patters were going.
People started filing into the gym. The seats around the edge of the floor didnt fill, however. Instead, everyone seemed to be forming into collective groups and milling about in big clusters on the floor. It began to sink in these kids had always grown up together. They werent military brats like me. They hadnt turned moving into a hobby. They had always grown up here. The people talking out there had probably known one another their entire lives, or close to it. I crossed my hands in my lap and stiffened my back.
Most of the night I could have been found there on that metal chair. Im not sure what I was waiting for, other than the end of the night so my mother could come pick me up. Still, there I sat, quiet and lonely, watching everyone having a good time. I fidgeted with the turquoise flower ring on my hand, twisting it round and round my finger. When I looked back up at the party, there was a boy standing in front of me. At first, I thought I might be in his way. Why else would he be standing in front of me and looking what seemed like directly at me?
"My friend wants to dance with you."
"Huh?" I stared back at him, dumbfounded.
"My friend wants to dance with you. Will you dance with him?"
I got to my feet, and in the most ladylike manor I could manage, I walked up to the young blonde boy who wanted to dance with me and tried to introduce myself to him. All that came out was another uuuuhhhh
The blonde boy put his hands on either side of my waist, and I gingerly put my own hands on each of his shoulders. We danced for a bit before either of us spoke.
"Whats your name?"
That was about the extent of our dialogue at the moment. After the song ended, I floated back to my seat. The dance was over. I turned to find Jesse to ask what classes he had and if we could maybe talk sometime while in school. He was already gone.
I asked around the school for him for months before finally finding out his last name. It took another month to find out he was a year older than myself in school. Yet another month later, I was told by a new friend I had just made that Jesse went to another school all together! I was devastated.
It was less than a month after that when I was standing face to face with Jesse in the halls at school.
"Hi." I started.
"Ummm I wanted to say thank you."
"For dancing with me." I smiled my biggest, most proud smile I could, showing every one of my very crooked teeth.
"Whats your last name?"
"Oh. Ok. See you around."
That was it. That was about the whole conversation we had that day. That conversation led me to reach out and find Jesse again once I reached High School. I did find him, and a wonderful relationship blossomed. We were very close for a long time. We would skip school together with other friends and just hang out for entire days. One of my fondest memories was the time we all piled into a car and flipped a coin to decide which roads to take, right or left; heads or tails. We would even go bowling with our friends sometimes. It never failed, we always had a good time.
Eventually Jesse ended up taking me to Jr. Prom with him when I was only a Sophomore (squishmore, as my brother would say) I wish I still had the picture my mother took of me in my white dress before the dance - unfortunately it was in my scrap book, in the Uhaul. I also cary with me a fond memory of going with him, Dustin, and Shannonn to Marie Calendars, where none of us would touch the peel-and-eat shrimp out of embarrassment. I never told Jesse that it was my most favorite food in the world! I just didnt want to be messy in front of him. To this day I cant eat peel-and-eat shrimp without thinking about Jesse.
Jesse, you've been a dear friend to me all these years. I won't begin to pretend that I deserve your friendship, but I will always be grateful for it. I know you've read this story before, but what could be more fitting than to share this on the anniversary of your birth?
Happy Birthday, Jesse.