It was in P.S. 9, the year was 1990. We were in the third grade and the school year was half way completed. I remembered hating school so much during that time. My mind was not on being the best student in the class or homework. I just wanted to enjoy the euphoria of being a youth as others around me were doing as well. I sat in the back of the classroom and the girl who caught my attention was Sidora who sat in the center. She had a striking cinnamon complexion, long hair, and a captivating smile. Mixed with Black, Dominican, and Puerto Rican, I felt like Sidora was the prettiest girl in the class. It was a coincidence that both of our older sisters were in the same fifth grade class graduating the same year.
We were having a class party to celebrate completing all of our required tests for the school year. Bell , Biv, Devoe was the hottest hip-hop group out at the time and we danced to their hits like “Poison” and “She’s Dope!”. We were having a great time. Sidora amazed me on how well she dances. Our fellow classmates complimented us on how well we dance, and they tried to copy our moves. This was probably my favorite school day out of the year.
By the time, we went to our sisters’ graduation in June, I think we both liked each other but were too shy to admit it. We both sat in the same eighth row of the auditorium, and we occasionally stared at each other. We smiled and looked away because we were both very shy. Sidora looked so cute in her yellow dress and I wanted to kiss her. I did manage to take a few pictures with Sidora and her father joked about us looking like a married couple. Our parents and sisters knew that we liked each other but Sidora and I laughed it off as if it was not true.
The last day of school in that year, I found out that I had to repeat the third grade. I felt like my world ended. 1990 turned into the worst year of my life in P.S. 9. First, my favorite athlete, Mike Tyson, lost his crown early that year to Buster Douglas and I failed the third grade. I cried because I knew my mother was going to punish me. I could forget about having a great summer. Sidora was there to console me and tell me that everything was going to be okay. Her words really touched me that afternoon. It would be the last time that I would see Sidora in the 1990s.
In junior high school, I wondered how Sidora was doing. This was a time when teenagers were thinking about sex. I knew I wanted to lose my virginity to Sidora but it was very unlikely. One of her old friends told me that she was in an all-girl Catholic school in the Bronx . In my English class, the teacher required the class to write in their journal everyday. I was into comic books so I wrote stories about me being Spider-Man. One of my favorite stories written in my journal was the wedding story about me marrying Sidora who was my Mary Jane Watson. I showed the story to a few people and they loved it. I remember bragging to my friends that if Sidora attended this junior high school, they would vote us the best couple because of our chemistry and good looks.
Relationship after relationship, heartbreak after heartbreak, all I was thinking about was Sidora. I still felt that if she was in my life maybe it would be better and full of happiness. I often had dreams about her that were so vivid that I felt it somehow represented the future. I was dreaming about us getting marry, having kids, and living in the biggest house in South Beach .
One afternoon, I was riding on the Bronx bound 4 train to 125 th Street & Lexington Avenue in 2002. I was a sophomore attending BMCC at that time. I was sitting down listening to R. Kelly & Jay-Z’s “The Best of Both Worlds” album. The subway train pulled into the 59 th Street station. The doors opened; a handful of colorful people boarded, and the doors closed. I looked up and there was Sidora standing outside. I could not believe it, there she was. I prayed that the doors would open but they did not. As the train pulled away slowly, Sidora looked right at me and gave me her usual radiant smile. I did not know if she still remembered me, but I wanted to get up and tear the doors open. I began having flashbacks of Sidora and me in elementary school playing around and dancing. Those special memories put a smile on my face.
For several days, I went to that same 59 th Street station at the same time and waited for an hour to see if she would show. She did not. Devastated, I was thinking I had the worst case of bad luck. Life really is not fair. I felt that I was not going to see her again. I went home feeling disappointed and tried my best not to show it. I was sitting in the living room watching one of my favorite movies, “Wall Street,” thinking how my life would be if I was wealthy. My half-brother Shawn walked inside my big apartment with a happy face. He just won over $10,000 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City . This was one of his biggest wins there during that year.
“What’s up, kid?” He asked, as he sat down and counted some of his winnings.
“Chillin’,” I answered. “I was just thinking about that girl Sidora from elementary.”
“Why are you still thinking about that girl? She probably already got three kids.”
“I feel like she’s my soul mate.”
“Your soul mate, what?” Shawn chuckled. “Are you brain dead?”
“Brain dead? Why would you say that?”
“Women like men with money. You are broke! Women like men who have a look. Also, woman like men with great physiques, and you already know how skinny you are. She’s not going to feel safe around you.”
“Not all women are the same.” I protested.
“Well, you keep on dreaming kid. There are too many women out here. Let it go.”
Maybe he was right I thought. It was somewhat foolish for me to continue having hopes for Sidora who probably moved on and found somebody. It was too much dreaming going on in my life, and it needed to stop. I promised myself that I would start living life for today and not the past.
It was May 30, 2008, and the day was sunny and nice. I was happy for two reasons. I graduated from college and was ready to start the next chapter in my life. After having a nice brunch with the family, I changed into my black T-shirt, beige khakis, and black Mauri gator sneakers and took a walk. I was in a very good mood and felt like something nice was going to happen. I walked to 84 th Street and Columbus where P.S. 9, my elementary school, still stands. I stood there smiling and reminiscing about the good old days. I was thinking about all the school plays, field trips, playing Ninja Turtles in the schoolyard and of course Sidora. It felt like yesterday when I was taking the school bus or riding the M7 bus to come here.
Somebody said my name, and the voice sounded familiar. I thought my ears were playing tricks on me. I slowly turned, and there was Sidora standing there. She was well developed and pretty. Her red rhinestone tee and black Biker Pants accentuated her figure. She kept herself up, and after all these years, Sidora had aged very little.
“Oh, come on. You don’t remember me?” She asked softly.
We hugged and I waited long for this moment. It felt right that she was in my arms. To be honest, it felt like I was reenacting a scene from one of my many dreams from the past.
“I missed you so much.” I expressed.
“I missed you, too.” She said, staring into my eyes.
We went to the Original Ray’s Pizza pizzeria around the corner to enjoy a slice of pizza with extra cheese. We talked for about an hour, updating each other on what we had done in the last few years. Sidora told me she’s a married mother taking care of her daughters. I was not too surprised about the news because we were in our late twenties. I confessed that I had thought about her and how religious I was on social networking websites like Myspace, Facebook, and Hi5 trying to find her. Sidora was hysterical at my attempts and navigating systems used in trying to find her.
“You love me that much?” She said, smiling.
“Yes, I’m happy that you have a great life now.”
“You’re so sweet.”
Sidora also showed me old and recent pictures of her and her daughters, Christina and Mya. The pictures of her daughter amazed me because they were a splitting image of Sidora but just a shade darker. I also saw some photos of Sidora and her husband on their wedding day. I complimented on how gorgeous she looked in her white wedding dress, but deep down I felt disappointed. I wanted her as my wife, but I was too late.
As we walked out, we continued our conversation. I told Sidora that we made eye contact in the subway on 59 th Street about five years ago. She could not remember that incident but she did confirmed working at Bloomingdale’s Department Store then. We stopped in front of her building on West 96 th Street & Columbus Avenue. We decided to plan a reunion to see how our old friends from P.S. 9 were doing and share memories. We hugged each other warmly and said our goodbyes.
Walking back to East Harlem , I felt good that I spent time with my first crush from P.S. 9. I got the answers to the questions that I wondered for so many years. Sidora and I are not soul mates, but I’ll never forget the happy times we shared as kids.