When I was in elementary school, we would prepare a shoe box each February as a repository for valentines from our classmates. The year I was in the fourth grade, I thought I had the most beautiful box in the classroom. Mama had given me a piece of leftover red velvet from a Christmas dress. I used it to wrap the box itself; the lid I covered in tin foil which I embossed with hearts and flower designs. It made me smile just to think of it.
I took it to school the day of our party, proud of my lovely crimson and silver box, filled with valentines I had laboriously addressed to all my classmates. We were given time to distribute the little white envelopes into everyone’s valentine boxes. Now it was time to enjoy refreshments and sift through the greetings.
Lifting the gleaming lid of my box, I blinked. I felt the color drain from my already pale face.
It was empty. I hadn’t received a single solitary valentine. As my classmates chattered and laughed and “oohed” and “aahed” over their stashes, I sat wordless, wishing I could simply sink down and be swallowed up by the classroom floor. I felt–invisible.
When I got home, I shoved the box into the back of the closet. What had brought me such pleasure earlier now caused only pain. It made me cry just to think about it.
As truly, genuinely happy as I am for those in our fandom who have seen/will see Richard perform live on stage this summer, it’s also been hard. I keep feeling like the girl who got left out, left behind, forgotten.
I am not saying what I feel is right, logical or reasonable, or that it’s the way anyone else feels–it’s just the way it is for me.
That box is once again empty, and it turns out that still hurts, even after more than 40 years.