When I was a kid, I had a friend named Paige. Her and I did everything together, at least everything that two kids in the first grade could do. This consisted of sharing crayons, playing together during recess, and attending each other’s birthday parties.
I can’t recall how much time we actually spent with each other in the grand scheme of things. I can’t remember her voice, or the way that she walked, but I can vaguely see her face as if I’m looking at it from a great distance. I have very few distinct memories with her, but perhaps that’s because there was never many of them.
As I look back I believe one of my first vivid memories was with her. Paige has invited me to her birthday party, and I was extremely excited. When I got there it was strange and awkward, I was the only boy present in a room full of girls. Even as a kid I suffered from being extremely awkward, so you can only imagine how I was in this situation. It hasn’t ceased yet even in adulthood.
However, as uncomfortable as it was, and even though I could hardly do anything at the party, I still had a good time. Even though I can remember this so well, there are moments where I contemplate if it was ever truly real. The foggy memories during that time surround this surreal clear one.
Paige moved away at the end of first grade, and I never really found out where she went. Or maybe I did and I simply forgot because as much as time can heal, it can also break apart things as well. As a child, love and strong emotions are such an unknown concept – like floating in the ocean with no idea what lurks beneath you. So I can’t say that Paige was the first girl I loved, but I can easily see now that I cared for her as much as six-year-old Wes could.
It fills my head with “What if?” thoughts though, ones that sometimes keep me up at night – Like what if she never moved away? What if I met her now rather than when I was a kid? Or what if I ran into her again hoping to god her memory of me was stronger than mine of her and she goes “Wesley? Oh my god Wesley, is that you?” Life isn’t a movie though, and situations like that are as improbable as winning the lottery.
I’ve now been going over all of my “What if?” moments, the ones I’ve gather through the years like a box of memorabilia. Obvious ones like – what if I asked that girl out in high school? Or what if I wasn’t so afraid of losing a friend by telling them how I felt? The normal ones, the “What if?” questions that everyone has.
The longer I sit on it though, the more obscure and strange they become. What if I found an injured baby fox and my neighbor’s dog became friends with it? Because then we’d have a real life The Fox and the Hound situation on our hands. Or what if I had a fairy god parent, but I told someone because I can’t keep a secret!
It’s these annoying thoughts that keep me awake when I should be sound asleep, and I wonder why it’s been happening more frequently now. Maybe my brain is trying to show me just how annoying “What if?” questions really are. That maybe I should stop over thinking everything I do and just take the leap and hope I don’t drown in an ocean of uncertainty.