Jessica was the second girl I ever had a crush on. If nothing else she was surpassed only by Abigail, another crush, in the length of time I had a crush on her.
Much like Sarah, I have no distinct memory of meeting Jessica face to face. We’d been in the same class in Grade Two. I’d just moved back to Canberra with my family and knew no one at school. I still can’t remember whether we’d played at lunch or were friends before the night I had the dream that would spurn a crush that would last me from when I was eight years old to when I was eleven.
Even I’m surprised I can still the remember parts of the dream:
Jessica and I were friends, good friends. And she was moving house. I went to her house to help her move, I didn’t want her to go, and then she kissed me.
I remember there being more to the dream than that, but the last part has always stuck with me. Perhaps because it was first time I’d ever actually properly thought of kissing a girl, or being kissed by a girl.
You see, the difference between my first crush and my second crush was that with Jessica I always wanted to be more than friends. I always thought I saw her in a different light to the way other boys saw her, that she was special only to me.
I’ll never be certain whether we were friends before the dream, but we certainly were after the dream. At least for a while. Looking back, there’s a chance she may have known about my crush, but at the time I could never be sure.
I wrote stories, even back then I was a writer, which always involved my friends, myself and Jessica. She would always appear, though I would never tell anyone.
Three years is a long time to harbour a crush on someone. Even mentioning it to people now, they are surprised it lasted that long.
In time, the crush faded, and Jessica and I were never really good friends. That’s not to say we didn’t get along, we just never had to with each other. While we stayed at the same primary school, and then even moved on to the same high school, we hardly ever spoke after that brief time in Grade Two when were friends, and while I noticed her, I always figured she never noticed me.
Guess I was about to find out whether that was true or not.
To my surprise getting in contact with Jessica turned out be a touch harder than I expected. I checked the electoral roll and found her listed in at an address in the same suburb as the primary school we went to.
Problem was, there no one with her surname listed with that address in the phone book. This lead to two conclusions:
She lived at that address but her number was silent.
She’d moved and not updated her details.
Figuring it was a little too creepy just to show up at her house, I resigned myself to sending her a letter explaining the situation. I wrote it out by hand, posted it, and waited for a response.
And waited. And waited.
Now I wasn’t sure if she received the letter or not. If she had received it, she may just be taking a while to respond. Alternatively, she may not want to respond and thought it would be easier just to leave things unsaid.
She may also have just not received it at all, I didn’t know.
So I gave it time. I contacted Kirsty, I contacted Paige and then after Paige hadn’t responded to my second email, I found myself at a crossroads: I could contact Summer, my sister’s friend, the sister who may not like the idea of me contacting her friend from high school, or I could could try and get in to contact with Jessica.
While I get along with my sister the prospect of potentially pissing her off really was not high on my priority list, so I thought Jessica would be the best way to go.
To do this, I would first have to assume that she never received the letter. With no other way to contact her short of stalkerishly showing up at her house, I decided to call the thirteen people with the same surname as her in the phone book.
There were a handful of wrong numbers. Including one particularly rude guy.
“Hi, my name’s Liam I’m actually after a Jessica Gaines?” I asked.
“No.” And he hung up the phone.
Because of this, I failed to cross his number of the list, after all, he hadn’t actually said she didn’t live there. So twenty minutes later when I’d returned to the numbers that had previously been unanswered. I found myself talking to same guy again.
“I told you before, she doesn’t live here!” He snapped.
“Well, actually, you just said ‘No’ and hung up the –” I was cut off as the rude prick once again hung up the phone.
I spoke to a man who claimed he knew the Gaines family had lived the same suburb as the primary school years earlier.
And then I finally came across a lead.
“Hi, my name’s Liam I’m actually after a Jessica Gaines?” I tried my now well rehearsed line.
“You want my brother,” The man on the other end of the line responded. “His daughter’s Jessica. Their house phone is on the fritz. I don’t have her mobile number, but I’ll get his for you.”
As he searched for the number he asked. “Why are you trying to get a hold of Jessica?”
Good question, not banking on having much luck with the truth, I told him the other reason I was calling.
“I’m actually trying to get in touch with her regarding a Year Six Reunion,” I tried.
“Year Six?” He said. “Didn’t realise it was reunion time…” Neither did I. I thought. In fact, I thought since Paige had gone radio silent and was the only person who knew about it that it would sort of fade to the background.
He then read the number out to me, and finished the call with a revelation that caught me off guard.
“When you speak to him, don’t forget to wish him Happy Birthday.”
“I’ll do that.”
I hung up the phone. It was her dad’s birthday. I was going to have go through her dad to get in contact with her. I pictured that phone call in my head.
“Hi, my name’s Liam, I’m actually writing a book about tracking down and interviewing every girl I’ve ever had a crush on. You’re daughter’s on that list. Happy Birthday by the way.”
No, they didn’t seem right. I couldn’t see that going well. What if he was at dinner for his birthday? I’d have to call him tomorrow instead.
The next night, I picked up the phone and called. And was put directly through to his voice mail. I tried again a few minutes later. Same thing. I waited half an hour, and then tried again. The damn phone was still switched off. It then dawned me there was a good possibility his phone was switched off when he wasn’t at work.
Cursing my luck, and the fact I would have to make the phone call the next day with my co-workers listening in, I hung up the phone. Jase was going to have a field day with this one.
Yet another day later I was surprised to discover that even during work hours his phone was switched off. I tried repeatedly every half hour.
Jason and Karly, another friend from work, kept on encouraging me to leave a message.
“I don’t want to leave a message. It’s going to sound bizarre enough talking to him directly over the phone, explaining it through a message won’t work well for me,” I reasoned.
I continued to try every half hour. Still nothing.
“Well, if you don’t want to leave message you could always move on to the next crush and come back to her.”
The next crush was my sister’s friend, Summer.
“I’ll keep trying,” I told Karly.
By 7pm that night, I’d resigned myself to having to leave a message. I rehearsed to myself what I would say. I picked up the phone and dialed, waiting for the voice mail to immediately kick in.
Wouldn’t you know it? The phone actually started to ring.
“Hello?” A friendly voice greeted me.
“Hi, my name’s Liam, I’m actually trying to get in touch with Jessica regarding a reunion, I got your number from your brother, I was just calling random people with the same surname in the book and accidentally got him.”
“Brother, hey? That was lucky. She’s actually just sitting across the table from me. I’ll put her on,”
As with every crush that I’d contacted, I had a brief moment of panic as he handed the phone to her.
“Hello?” A familiar voice said. This was it.
“Hey Jessica, it’s actually Liam Smith from Primary School and High School, I’m actually organising a Year Six Reunion and I was wondering if you like to come?”
I was instantly relieved with amused response of:
“They do Year Six Reunions?”
“They do now,” I tried.
“Sure, I’d love to.” And with that, I saw my opportunity, she was in a good mood, she was open to the reunion, now was my chance.
“The second thing, which is going to sound just as insane as the first, is that I’m actually writing a book about tracking down and interviewing every girl I’ve ever had a crush on, and I’d like to interview you.”
Jessica burst out laughing and then told me it was a great idea, and she’d be happy to meet up. We agreed to meet up in the same coffee shop I’d met Kirsty in.
Jessica is a lovely girl. Happy, bubbly and fun to be around. There was a little mix up with which coffee shop I was referring to, but after she arrived at the right one everything was all good.
Turns out Jess has a nice government job now, working in Child Support Services, still living at home and seems to be enjoying life greatly. She said it was so random to suddenly get a phone call from me.
“All I heard my Dad say was something about brother, and then he mentioned my name,” She told me. “And I was like, do I have a brother you haven’t told me about it? What’s going on? Then he put you on, and I was surprised to hear from you,”
Like with Kirsty, Jessica had told her friends and co-workers about the book and they’d posed the idea that I might be some sort of psycho. She’d responded by saying,
“If he has the guts to say ‘Hey, I used to have a crush on your when we were in primary school!’ then I figure it’s worth giving him a chance.”
“And it’s one of the reasons why I always meet in a public place, seems a little less crazy,” I replied.
I told her that I had a crush on her from Grade Two to Grade Five. She was fairly impressed by this.
After all, it’s not every day you hear a guy liked you for three years.
I asked her if she ever knew I liked her. She hadn’t, but then again, we never really talked except for maybe those two weeks in Grade Two.
I showed her the notes I had for the book so far, she looked through it so see who else I’d had a crush on. Except for the most recent few, and my sister’s friend, she actually knew most of them. She was actually good friends with Camille for most of high school, this surprised me, but like I said before, unpopular kids aren’t always in the loop.
“Did her and Sangas go out for a while?” she asked. I paused briefly wondering if I should remind her of what Sangas had sworn had actually happened, despite various friends contesting his version of events.
“Well…. his version is that they made out at a school social, and then he wrecked it by making out with another girl the same night,” I finally said. This triggered a memory of Jess’s.
“Oh yeah – I remember that! She came up to me and said ‘Let’s go bash this girl’”
I laughed. Now THIS Sangas would be proud to hear – the thought of two attractive girls fighting over him. Funny stuff.
We swapped stories about people from high school. Some who now had kids and were married. Some now had kids and were divorced. One guy had booked a plane ticket to England. Hadn’t arranged a job, or any accommodation, just booked a one way ticket and left in the hopes of finding some work there.
Jess saw Paige’s name in the book and was surprised that I’d liked her once upon a time. Hell, these days I’m still surprised I liked her back then. Apparently Jess wasn’t a big fan of Paige herself.
“You gotta see this,” I said, pulling out a copy of the email Paige had sent me. Jess’s reaction was pretty similar to everyone else’s.
“Wow, this girl is so full of herself.”
We jointly described Paige as being “too cool for school”.
Jess mentioned to me that her parents had brought another younger sister into the world recently. Originally the prospect that her parents still had sex was rather unpleasant, but once she’d gotten past that she loved having another younger sister.
This seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring up something which I’d been wondering about since I mentioned to Kirsty that I was going to contact Jess. Kirsty had seen Jess holding a baby in the mall one day. I’d mentioned this to Sangas who confirmed that he too had seen Jess holding a kid, and then weeks after that I’d thought I’d seen her with a baby too. Turns out we were all wrong – the kid wasn’t hers, it was her parents!
“Sometimes for fun I let people believe that it’s mine to see the reaction,” She said mischievously. I smiled, this sounded like something I’d do. “I bumped into Christian from school, and almost had him convinced that baby was mine, it was hilarious!”
“That is SO something I would do. Like last night I was at my brother’s house, and I slyly told his wife that I would have to contact her sister for the book. Her reaction was priceless.”
We both laughed at that.
She mentioned the Year Six Reunion, and pointed out to me that 11 years is a bit strange for a reunion.
“Yeah, but a Year Six Reunion is a little unusual anyway, so I figured it kinda worked out in a bizarre sort of way,”
She told me about her previous cheating boyfriend, I deemed him a jerk (which is true, I hate guys that cheat), and mentioned the potential boyfriend she had on the horizon.
I asked her about her first crush, and it turned out to be a guy we’d gone to primary school with, unlike myself however she’d actually ended up “going out” with him. The reason for the quotation marks is because it was like Grade Four, and if they’d done anything it wouldn’t have been more than holding hands.
Jessica, like Sangas, and Jase, had more often than not ended up with the guys she liked. After almost a full hour and a half of talking, I told her I’d keep her posted about the book and be in touch about the reunion soon, and we both went our separate ways.
I hummed to myself on the way to my car. It had been a good day. Jess was an awesome girl, and, like Kirsty before her, she’d given me hope that meeting future crushes wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Cross posted to emptyfortunecookie.com
The book can be purchased from this link. Chapters will continue to be posted Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
All events in this story are true, with the consent of being told from my perspective on the situation. (It being a memoir and all.) Names and minor identifying details were changed to protect some people’s identities.