When I was 5, I had a friend named Maggie. And Maggie had an older brother, who I was going to marry one day.
(this is me, circa 1989)
Maggie's brother was named Brian, and he had blond hair. That's pretty much all I remember about him. Well, I also remember the way my heart would start pounding when I heard his name. And that he was really tall (for a 7 year old).
But that's it.
One day I went over to Maggie's house for a sleepover birthday party. I dressed up in my cutest outfit (which probably wasn't very cute, since this was 1990) and I let my mom brush my hair for the occasion.
I just knew that if I looked my best, there was no way Brian could resist me.
I walked through Maggie's front door, and stared. This was her house?
I didn't know the word Mansion, but I did know that this house was much bigger than any I had ever been inside.
While this impressed me, and kind of made me nervous, it didn't make me want Brian any more than I already did (I have learned a lot since then).
"Helena! Welcome. Maggie and the other girls are in the gym."
Maggie's mom gestured to a glass wall behind her. And behind that glass? Was a giant room full of gymnastic equipment. In their house.
Now, I was little, so the room probably wasn't quite as big as I remember it. But still- who has gymnastic equipment in their house??
I looked around shyly, but I didn't see Brian anywhere. This was kind of a relief, because my plans were limited to "He will see me, I will look cute, and then we will be in love," and I was starting to worry that it wouldn't be that easy.
I dropped my sleeping bag and backpack by the others, and ran to the balance beam. I had taken gymnastics the summer before, and I was anxious to show off my cartwheel-on-the-beam skills.
Maybe that would impress him?
A few hours later (Or maybe it was minutes? Time passes slower when you are a kid), we gathered around the table to sing happy birthday to Maggie. I knew that her brother would be there for this part, because that's how things worked.
Sure enough, he came walking in with his dad and another boy from school. I watched him smile at his mom, and say something funny to his friend.
Someone handed me my plate, and I started eating the cake without really tasting it. I couldn't stop staring.
(This should tell you just how devoted I was. Sugar was such a rare treat, it would normally have consumed my entire attention)
This was it. This was the moment I had been waiting for. Any second now he was going to look over and see me, and then he would be my boyfriend.
What will we tell Maggie? I wondered. I hope she won't get mad.
I smiled extra hard at her, because we were about to become family, and I wanted her to know that I was happy about that.
We will probably have 90 kids, I thought. And all of them will be girls. I wonder how old you have to be to get married?
I was so busy planning our reception, it took me a minute to realize that Brian was walking out the door.
"Have fun spending the night at Jamie's house!" His mom called after him.
He was leaving???
But, we hadn't even fallen in love yet!
We never even made eye contact (despite my constant staring).
It wasn't fair!!!
I was crushed. I wanted to cry, but at the same time I didn't want the other girls to think I was a baby. And the last thing I wanted was to have to explain why I was sad.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur. I probably had fun, but I don't remember any of that. I just remember laying down in my sleeping bag that night, on their thick white carpet, and thinking that life was awful.
A few hours later, I felt something warm on my lower back. That was nice. I drifted back off...
...and then I noticed that that warm spot was getting cold, and kind of sticky.
Wait a second...
Oh no, was that pee??!
I sat up in a hurry, and felt around beneath me. Sure enough, I had wet the floor.
I didn't know what to do! Should I wake up Maggie, or go get her mother?? I just wanted to go home.
Heartbroken, I started crying. Not only had my future boyfriend forgotten to fall in love with me, but now I was going to be made fun of at school for the rest of infinity. Maybe infinity times infinity.
My little chest heaved with sobs as I climbed out of my sleeping bag.
I looked around for my backpack, which had tomorrow's clothes inside. My face was still dripping with tears as I took off my pajamas, and pulled up my jeans. At least I was dry.
I looked around the room, trying to decide what to do. I knew I should probably wake up Maggie's mother, but I was too embarrassed. If only I could pretend like nothing happened.
...Wait a minute. Why not? No one knew that I wet the floor, and if I could remove the evidence...
The next morning, when Maggie's mom walked in to wake us up, she found all the girls still inside their sleeping bags.
All except one.
I was already dressed, with my sleeping bag all rolled up. I had fallen asleep leaning against it.
"Wow, you're all ready. Good for you."
She didn't even notice the yellow spot on her expensive white carpet.
I had pulled it off! I couldn't believe it.
This was the best party ever.
As soon as I got home, I ran to my sister Amber.
"You'll never guess what happened! They have a trampoline and a balance beam and all kinds of gymnastic stuff RIGHT IN THEIR HOUSE, even some uneven bars and I did a cartwheel and Brian was going to fall in love with me, but he left with a friend, and I'm not even his girlfriend but I still love him and OH MY GOSH I wet the bed, except it was the floor, and I hid it and no one knows and there's a yellow spot but i didn't get caught and it was the BEST PARTY EVER!"
Her reaction was kind of anticlimactic.
I never did end up marrying Brian, mostly because we moved away a few months later, and he hadn't seen my cartwheel yet. I think things would have ended differently if he had.
I still think about that house sometimes.
Who has gymnastic equipment in their living room?