Pondering: fear and regret

February 29 always brings me a tiny twinge of regret and reflection as it wings around its little four year cycle. It's the birthday of a girl I had a huge crush on in high school - Ferne Kohlman - not a hard date to remember given its infrequent nature (and the fact that it's the day after my dad's birthday as well).

We sat across the aisle from each other at the back of the classroom and I was hooked from the moment my angsty little hormone filled teenage self laid eyes on her in early February at the start of year 7.

Obviously I've moved on to bigger and far better things in the #cough#24years#cough# time since then but as a lesson in how events at that age help shape who you are and what you become, it's still something that pops into my head on the odd occasion.

Valentines Day came around about a week after school started and the night before I spent hours painstakingly making her a valentines card that I planned to secretly slip into the pigeon-hole/shelves that we had just near the classroom door for our books and whatnot.

In green pen I (clumsily) drew this lush fern frond (because her name was Ferne - get it) with hundreds upon hundreds of those tiny fern (uh what are they called - leaves/nodules?) thingys and agonised over the perfect combination of words.

Being a relatively private person, (or perhaps fearful), I didn't sign it, figuring I could gauge the reaction when she read it and take my cue from there.

Come the next day I scurried early to class and eagerly scanned the pigeonholes looking for her name - Fern Coleman. (Which was how I had intricately written it in fronds on the card). Logically, it would have been between the B surnames and the Ds.
But no. I scanned in a panic another dozen times - why wouldn't she have a pigeonhole - it didn't make sense.

I scanned the whole wall of pigeon holes and reached the Ks (for Kohlman) to realise to my young mortification that I had spelled not only her first name wrong but also her surname. I slipped the card in regardless and when it was discovered, proceeded to deny absolutely to all and sundry that I had had anything to do with it. (After all, if I truly loved this girl, how could I possibly not even know her name)

And that was it - for the next four years (until she changed schools at the end of year 10), I pined for her from afar - afraid of I'm still not entirely sure what but nonetheless, ruled by my fears.

The truly stupid thing is that I'm pretty sure that she did actually like me and there were any number of chances to move on but in my strange little mind, I just couldn't and wouldn't act.

I hope now that I'm less proud or fearful or whatever the hell it was that I was doing - possibly a modicum of stubborn self-destructive willfullness in there as well for all I know.

But February 29 will always remind me of the consequences of fear