Of course I would be available. I could hardly wait.
I imagined all kinds of scenarios. For Aaron to be writing and wanting to visit with me at this stage of life was fraught with new potential. As young teens, it could turn out to be my very first date. What if after the fathers had talked, Aaron would take his father to wherever they were staying and come back with the car to visit me. Perhaps we would go for a drive somewhere up the mountains and stop at a place overlooking the valley just to talk and relive all those conversations that we used to have under the weeping willow tree. I would just love to hear about his new life - and feel his eyes seeing me - and holding me. It would have the feelings of being a date - but not really. My parent's wouldn't have to know - and if they suspected anything, I could just say we were going for a drive as friends and not to worry - Aaron wasn't a boyfriend - he was leaving again. It was just a moment. Surely they wouldn't object. He was just a friend. They had never objected to me playing with my friends before.
I dressed up as prettily as I could -- but remained casual so no one would guess my excitement. Then at the appointed time I hovered by the chestnut tree right outside the my father's gas station.
A car with strange license pulled up. It didn't park by the gas pumps or by the station doors but off to the side on the private driveway that led to our house - signaling immediately that this wasn't about the car, this was a personal visit.
Aaron and his father got out of the car. I stood in full view and smiled - waving ever so gently. Aaron had grown even a little taller - his McDreamy eyes connecting with mine. I could read his mind, His eyes promised to meet after the fathers had their conversation. There was a hint of subtle quiet anticipation.
It took forever, but they finally emerged out of the station. The mood had changed. Aaron was no longer smiling. His father was livid, turned to look at me scathingly and got into the car without a word. Aaron took a tiny step towards me, then shrugged - his eyes were distant, shrouded with sadness.. He turned and got into the car with his father and they drove away with out looking back.
What had my father done? I imagined they had come to ask my father something business-like probably having to do with the farm which had belonged to my uncle. There was that historic business connection. My father had probably said no to whatever they asked. He could be a hard man when he made up his mind - no compromises. They had probably thought his response to their reasonable request offensive.
I slinked off to the barn and hid for the rest of the day - in absolute misery. The lack of response in Aaron's eyes at the end left me with the conclusion that I wasn't pretty enough for him to stay for even a short visit much less leave his disgruntled father somewhere and come back for a drive. He no longer wanted to be my friend and have a pretend date with me.
At supper that evening, my father was unusually quiet and avoided looking at any of us around the table. Upset with him - I didn't engage either.
After everyone had left the table, he remained seated and as I was clearing the dishes asked me.... "What do you think of Aaron? Did you like him?"
Totally caught off guard, I fumbled for words. My first reaction was that "all boys" were forbidden territory until one turned at least seventeen years old. I was too young to "like" anyone so to confess to having even a "crush" on Aaron would be wrong. Yet, I was a truth-teller - and so was my father. This seemed one of those moments. I nodded. "Yes. I like Aaron but he doesn't like me," I said. "No worries. He's gone home."
But my father didn't get angry at my confession, he just sat there looking at me - and then he said the oddest thing.
"I hope I didn't make a mistake," he said - half to himself - half to me. The words just hung there with no further explanation. Then he, he shrugged, got up and left to attend to some customer who had stopped at the gas pumps.
The next day my mother confronted me. "Were you writing to Aaron since they moved to the Maritimes." I confessed that I had expecting all kinds of disapproval but she didn't raise any objections. She seemed almost amused. She too shrugged and went back to work.
Of course I wrote Aaron a letter - reaching out - apologizing for whatever - hoping for answers.
I never heard from him again. The mystery lingered for years. What had happened between the fathers? I'm still not sure but I do have a theory.
In any case, I kept his bundle of letters never really forgetting my first encounter with love - and the pain of rejection. My heart was broken. And seeing the letters again even after all these years - I felt it all again - the miserable day hiding in the barn - the questions. Was something wrong with me? Would I ever find love again?
A lot of people think teenagers haven't gone through anything in their lives - they're not even 20 years old yet. But a twenty-something can go through the same type of experience or heartbreak that a 50-year-old can go through, so why does age matter? - Khalid