It's almost been 5 years since I met you. Five. That's my favorite number.
I live with a family of five. My mother, my father, my two older brothers, and myself. Five people make my house a home. My hand has 5 fingers, as it rightly should. The fingers I've used to learn to draw, hold the bow as I ran it back and forth upon the strings of my violin, and to write my story. Five fingers help me be an artist. I was brought into this world on September the 5th, and you were as well on August the 5th. Five connects me to you.
I don't know this yet.
You are the dark skinned boy, with the deep brown eyes, the high pitched voice, and the braces, that are only exposed when you talk, because you don't smile much. You are no one to me, and I am no one to you. Strangers. So how did you change from "no one" to "the only one?"
You ate a piece of cake that fell on the ground.
This is my first solid memory of you. I'm sure that we met before, heard each others names, saw each others faces, but never held an actual conversation, because who actually stops to get to know people in our high school? I knew that you had dated my friend Amy, the girl who sat next to me in Algebra class and asked me everyday if I had something to eat, even though I always said no. She didn't speak extremely well of you then, and nothing has changed now. I also knew that you were in JROTC, too. Even though we didn't have the same class hour, I saw you a few times in the hallways on Wednesdays, when all the cadets were plagued with the burden of dawning their class A uniforms for formal inspection. Finally, I knew you were a boy. That's an important piece of information to know, as our school has a 4 to 1, girl to boy, ratio, but I digress.
That day, the entirety of our JROTC battalion was standing in formation at stand at ease command, waiting to be inspected for our program's yearly school wide formal inspection. Since this occasion determined the ranking of our battalion in the district's JROTC program, we had practiced and been mandated that everyone would attend or they would fail. There were also a few spectators during the inspection. So there we both stood, in our respective spots, waiting for the final person to be looked over, for the final award to be given, for the final word of that speech. The one thing that every cadet was told before we entered the arena was, "Do not lock your knees."
I locked my knees.
It may have been the fact that I was standing between two young men that were clearly 6 feet tall or more, or that the arena was not air conditioned, and was growing hot as the breath of about 200 people filled and suffocated the room, or that I had not eaten breakfast, but I was quickly burning up in my pickle suit of a uniform. Soon, I was fighting not to sway where I stood, trying even harder to keep my legs straight, probably intensifying the effect. When the room went hazy, I thought my glasses were just smudged. However, I completely lost sight after a few more seconds. I waited 30 seconds for my vision to return, and at a full 60 seconds, I began plotting a way to fake a fainting spell so that I could leave formation to figure out what was wrong. Faking was not necessary.
All I remember is suddenly not feeling my muscles holding me up, and hearing the woosh of the air as I fell, and only feeling a little pressure on my forearms and my chin, as I made impact with the arena floor. Within a seconds pause, I was awoken by a man rolling me over onto my back, and the air around me felt amazingly cooler than it had pre-fainting spell. I was then escorted by the arm to sit out the rest of the inspection.
I've got to say, fainting in public is not how I wanted to be remembered my freshman year at high school, and I didn't quite appreciate the rare person claiming that I "faked it." Why should I apologize if I "fall pretty?" Should I have actually faked it and fell melodramatically? Would that be believable? All in all, though, after that experience I can tell anyone that has never fainted one thing: fainting is hella fun. The absolute relief after you faint is amazing, because it's like your body has hit the restart button, and you feel so much better. Granted, the temporary blindness is scary, but you get past that.
You knew me by this point, though we had never chatted. You saw me as I fell to the floor that day, more than likely laughed a little to yourself, and went back to your business. That's not the end of our encounter. The gracious staff of our JROTC program provided us with two sheet cakes to eat after the inspection. Having had to sit out lunch for this event, and enduring a little embarrassment, I was sure to grab a slice of this cake, and I sat with my friend Heidi, eating my compensation in delight. Back then, I didn't make much of you coming and sitting there with us, because there was limited space. Somehow Heidi dropped her half eaten cake slice on the floor. She frowned sadly at it as she began to pick it up to throw it away. That's when you asked, "Are you gonna eat that?"
I looked at you, confused and slightly amused, wondering if you could be serious. These were the floors that, not only had 2000 plus kids walked over everyday, but that maintenance men had pulled carts in and out of the school, and our very own military shoes had practiced drill every week.
"No! This floor is dirty as hell!" Heidi said, pausing before picking up the cake.
"I'll eat it if you don't," you said, matter-of-factly.
Heidi then challenged you to do so, and you obliged, picking the cake up and sinking your teeth into it.
It was such a "boy's" thing to do; picking up food off the ground and eating it for a gross out effect. It was funny and cute nonetheless, and I remembered you for it. That day, we went from being strangers, to being acquaintances.