The very first crush I remember was when I was about 3. Marino. He was 8 and had the longest, most beautiful eyelashes. He was also my third-cousin---hey, in Colombia from third-cousins on, they're fair game.
When I was four, we moved to Montelíbano where I met Fabian Perez. We were twin souls, he and I. We even looked alike, with our matching bowl cuts and honey-blonde hair. We were pretty much inseparable. There were long afternoons spent together, picking star fruit from the tree in the courtyard of his house, or going to the club to swim in the pool, or terrorizing his little brother.
Our favorite pastime though, was locking ourselves up in the music room in his house. It was an oddly shaped little room with one wall made entirely of windows looking out onto the courtyard. We would draw the lace curtains, lock the old creaky lock with the big antique key, and listen to Henry Mancini records. Our favorite was the Pink Panther theme. We would dance and fall down in a fit of giggles every time...and then listen to it again and again. Inevitably, our raucous laughter would bring a discreet rapping at the door, and the maid would appear bearing fruit juice and snacks. She would purposefully prop the door open behind her as she left.
Once we were in school, things were different. We were in transición*, after all, our pre-school days were behind us, and we were big kids now. He had his best friend Juan Carlos, and I had mine, Maria Claudia. She and I would chase the two of them during recess to give them kisses. They dutifully gave us a run for our money, only occasionally getting caught---just long enough for a quick peck on the cheek.
Come to think of it, that's probably the longest I have ever been so constant in my affections. He was my crush all through transición and the first grade. After that I moved to the States and saw him every other summer until we moved back to Colombia.
I would always get the phone call at my grandmother's house, hours after our arrival, and off we would go, as if no time had passed.
But the real point of this exercise was to recount our first heartbreak...
That dubious distinction went to an American.
I was in the 5th grade and the object of my affections was Peter Okorn. I really, really, liked him and wanted him to be my boyfriend. When I told him I liked him, he told me he really, really liked a girl named Teresa. He'd liked her for a long time...since, like, the third grade. He was finally going to ask her to be his girlfriend, but, he added "if she says no, then yeah...maybe".
I was crushed---and indignant.
Little did I know that my interactions with the opposite sex twenty-some years later would not differ much from those early schoolyard romances.
And what of Fabian?
I moved back to Colombia when I turned 12. As usual, news of our arrival had already spread. The first afternoon back, I heard the high pitched buzz of mopeds and the spray of gravel as they pulled into the drive-way, about five or six of them. He'd decided to play it cool and had brought his friends along. He was the only familiar face that remained from our elementary school days. It was a political move, I suppose, being the one to introduce them all to the "new girl".
Of my new group of peers, most had grown up together, so any new face caused quite a stir. Fabian quickly saw that he would have competition. He was a "townie", and though considered an acceptable childhood companion due to his family's economic status, we were reaching an age where those little distinctions began matter.
He was no longer the alpha male, and he faded out of my life as the other boys vied for my attention.
It was then that I, just a budding adolescent, had the first inklings of woman's power to mesmerize and captivate men.
As to whether I would use it for good or evil...well, I'm still undecided.
* In Colombia the grades run: Kindergarden, Pre-school, transición, then 1st-11th grades.