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Meeting Maddy This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It’s an odd feeling, the stomach tied in knots, the throat all choked up, left speechless and rosy-cheeked in the presence of a complete stranger. Her name is Maddy, and I met her in the seventh grade. All the symptoms of an unshakable crush displayed themselves. I would repetitively catch myself glancing over to her or hear her conversing with her mob of friends that seemed like an impenetrable shield, guarding her from any hopeful love-struck chump. It took months to conquer my own nerves and my own inhibitions to even dare say “hello” to the girl, but I had a clue then that this Jr. High crush, this ingenuous state of mind, would lead somewhere.

Day 1 of seventh grade, I knew nobody and I spoke to no one. Quietly and nervously, I walked the halls from classroom to classroom. I ate lunch with my English teacher, Danielle (we called our teachers by their first names) and discussed the main points of the short story “Harrison Bergeron” that we read in class. Then, she walked through the door. Long shimmering brunette hair and big brown eyes, the kind you could get lost in. As if I were Harrison himself, I felt tied down, handicapped by a power greater than my own. She asked Danielle questions about her homework, gave me a quick glance, and walked out. Nothing more, nothing less. I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the day.

Months passed, my persona broke out of the shell amongst everyone, everyone but her. In these months, I grew further than in two and a half years of high school. At 13, nobody knows who they are, but the person I am today is all due to my actions as an apprehensive “sevie”. Six months of seventh grade through, I gained many great friends, I gained vital education, but I never said a word to Maddy. Pre-Algebra was the best class I’ve ever taken. My teacher, Gerald, was such a character with his bald head covered by a foot-long white, scraggly beard combed over all 360 degrees around his cranium. Along with his halfway unbuttoned collar shirts, displaying a poof of long white chest hair, the man was a stupefying sight. As entertaining as this was, it was not the reason Pre-Algebra class seventh grade year is so clear in my mind. It was her. She sat at the table directly opposite of my own. I’d joke with her, in the following years, that she is the solitary reason for my near-failing math grade all throughout the 7th grade year. Every so often, she’d catch me day dreaming through the window, or even right through her, and give me that quick glare complimented with an uneasy smile that made me melt in my seat. After classes like these, it was like walking on clouds all through the rest of the day, unable to clear the red from my face.

With just a month or so left of school, the snow had melted, the trees had budded, and my luck took a turn for the awesome. It was a sunny mid-April morning, as we sat in our social studies class, and she said it. “Gabe, I really like your shoes!” Maybe it’s not romantic, maybe it’s not a plead to date me right then and there, but this little compliment, this little six word sentence that arose from her rosy red lips, it was aimed at me and nobody else. Unsure if my heart had burst in all the excitement or if it had shot up into my throat, unwilling to relinquish all that I needed to say, I could only sit there in silent adulation. I sat there dumbfounded and wide-eyed, sharing vacant stares between her and my scuffed high-top checkered Vans on my feet. The most idiotic look on my face did not falter for a solid three and a half seconds. Not until the near silent giggles and whispers of the girl’s supporting cast of friends grew louder did I snap myself out of this trance. I couldn’t blow this. All I needed was words; any words to escape my quivering lips, to slow down the beating gong which I presume replaced my busted heart, any words to prevent making a complete ass of myself! What followed this troublesome pause was the very first, of countless, conversations between Maddy and I.

I could tell the rest of the story. I could go through every month, starting when I asked Maddy to be my girlfriend on top of the Ferris wheel at the State Fair on August 23rd, the start of eighth grade. I could miserably describe the angst I still carry for my parents for moving me to Homer, away from this girl, my best friend. I could also explain the euphoric feeling of seeing her, for the first time in half a year, in the stands at my basketball game out in Wasilla, winter of freshmen year. I could illuminate the moment my natural nervousness vanished for the split second, after the game, when I kissed her on her lips for what I feared would be the last time. Going through every date, every week, and each summer with Maddy for the following 18 months would be too much fun, but I won’t do it. All these stories, these are for me and for her. These days, anything new I attempt, I’ve got to have her with me. Her hand is clutched in mind through every big moment, but that little insignificant remark from her way back in the seventh grade tops the list of my significant moment. I’m a seventeen year old boy refusing to grow up like any other, but wherever this girl goes, that’s where I’d like to be.



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