This is my fifth grade class. Just to give you an idea on the size of my town, this is ALL the fifth graders in it. It was my first year in Edina, Missouri, the place my dad finally settled as a physician after years of medical school and two different towns the two years after that. I’m on the bottom row, second from the right. My best friend Maggie is beside me. She eyed me warily the first day, but we were good friends after that. Next to her is Stephan – I rode with him to our orthodontist for several years. The first guy in the row above me is Todd. He helped me learn to parallel park the night before I tried for my driver’s license. Michael helped us too. You’ll find him in the top row, second from the left, and he will kill me for posting this, so please have my epitaph read something poetic from all my ramblings here along with, “Then she embarrassed her husband one too many times and died.” Because it’s about to get worse.
This is the cover of the diary our fifth grade teacher had us make. I only had a few entries in it. And I’m not sure why this survived The Great Journal Destruction By Burial of my early teens, but it did. I still have it along with letters and cards and stories. We wrote in it during class, so I honestly cannot fathom where I got the sheer nerve to write my first entry with such forthrightness, but here it is for your perusal.
There are two cute boys in my class. Michael Bohan and Tod Greg.
“Michael” is the only correctly-spelled first or last name in that sentence. The last sentence would have made my literary agent jump ship, I think, if she’d seen it before now. And finally, several of these boys became my friends, and I would just like to say regarding the diss on their perfectly pleasant good looks as well, I was ten – what did I know?
Michael never saw this entry, of course, because OMG I would have died. (Kind of like the time in seventh grade when I doodled I Heart Mike on my notebook paper in Math and then LEFT IT IN THE CLASSROOM where my friends found it, took it to him, and then told him they knew it was me!) (Though you know I was secretly glad that he knew…) But he did reciprocate at the end of sixth grade when he wrote this on my yearbook:
“To a very nice girl,” it says. “And very cute to. Mike Bohon.” I have an even better one after seventh grade when he told me he would probably see me over the summer but that he would miss me anyway and to “stay good lookin’.” AND HE UNDERLINED IT SEVEN TIMES. I really like that one.
I’ve been thinking about all this for two reasons. One of them is that those two fifth graders – after a whole lot of history that was quite a ride at times and didn’t always seem to be headed toward a fairy tale but that miraculously doesn’t have a single breakup in it – on August 16, 1997, they became this.
And the other reason I’ve been thinking about it all is because a couple years after this they had a little boy. They named him John Michael and put a ball in his hand as soon as he could grip things and introduced him to all the best movies like Aladdin and Karate Kid. And now the craziest thing has happened. Guess who starts fifth grade tomorrow?