Sometime in my early to mid teens, a bunch of my friends and I were hanging out in my spare room watching Lord of the Rings (I know it was Lord of the Rings because we were trying to watch the entire extended version in one day, and the only other film set we did that with was Star Wars, and I sat in a papasan chair while watching Star Wars). I was lying on my stomach on the bed, and Franny was sitting leaning against the bed in front of me and to my left. Franny, just for clarification, is short for John Francis. Sometime during the afternoon, he looked up at me and said,
“Wren, I’ve never told you this, but I think you’re really cute, and you’re fun to be with. I really like you. Do you think that…you know….”
And I shut him down pretty firmly. There was someone else I liked (though I didn’t tell him that), and I still saw Franny as someone that I occasionally played football with–most definitely not boyfriend material, at least to my young interpretation of such things. We must have been fourteen or younger, because I only saw him at a funeral and a New Year’s Eve party after that. We went to different high schools—he went to a slightly snobby upper crust high school while I homeschooled through high school.
Last fall, I started seeing a boy around campus that looked oddly familiar. The first time I saw him I was hurrying to a class, so I kind of ducked away because familiar faces usually lead to conversations. But then I saw him again and I went, “no, I know that guy. I think that’s Franny.”I saw him once or twice the rest of that semester, but always at inconvenient times.
Yesterday, I nearly ran into him. He was carrying a backpack and a guitar case, and he was walking alone, and I had nowhere in particular to go. So we stopped, and he kind of looked at me like “I don’t know you but you look familiar and you’re looking at me like you think you know me too”. And we said hi, and I was right. It was him. I called him by name (well, I hedged my bets—“Franny, right?”), and he nodded and smiled and asked how I was doing. We talked for a bit, and then he said
“What’s your name, again?”
After we parted ways, I started thinking. John Francis Kaines. That’s his full name. He didn’t have to tell me that. I remembered it. He likes football, has a younger sister named Bernadette, and I ran into his mother at one of my favorite coffee spots during Christmas break. He was also the first boy to tell me that he liked me.
I couldn’t help but start reflecting on what it would have been like if we were friends through high school. What if we had become a couple? I doubt we would still be together. Who knows how long that would have lasted or what sort of relationship we would have had. Though it probably wouldn’t have been that stellar. He couldn’t remember my name, after all.