Updated: May 25, 2022
So, I'm sitting here and I'm reminded that today is the birthday of one of the most amazing people I've ever been blessed to know. Her name is Crystal, but affectionately, I call her Bells. The nickname never made sense to most, but I suppose today is as good of a day to explain it. It's not long or complicated, Just personal.
I met Crystal in high school during my freshmen, or 9th grade year. I'm quite sure I didn't have to tell you that. Anyway, the way I met her is actually rather embarrassing. At our school, we had a magnet program for building technology. Most freshmen are required to go through a rotation of all the classes to assess which one they wanted to focus on. I would eventually choose Welding.
On that first day of school, my 14-year-old self walked out of my Tech class (that's what the building technology classes were referred to as), and turned a corner alongside countless other teenagers. We collectively looked like a herd of cattle or wildebeest wandering to feed; we were going to lunch. As I turned the corner I saw this girl in a light blue skirt. She was short, light-colored hair, either blonde of blondish-red, and incredible hips.
Keep in mind I was just 14, but I was mesmerized. I would eventually follow these hips all the way to the lunchroom (yes, I was going there anyway, but it was a good thing she was too or I may have missed it). At lunch, I carried on like normal - no, I didn't stalk her - I did, however, very soon get to know her. We had other classes together and she was a lovely girl - very attractive. I wouldn't be the only guy to notice this.
As days and weeks went on, I would talk to her and get to know her and walk with her in the halls. I, and about four or five other guys. Now, look, yes I was very attracted to her, but was still self conscious teenage Dwan (not even Moon yet) and I didn't think she was equally interested in me. So, while I was walking with her, and the other guys, down the hall, I noticed something. It's like for a moment I was on the outside of this cluster looking back at it and I saw the girl's best friend just quietly walking along side of us. This isn't to say that I didn't know she was there prior to this, it's just that, in that moment, I could see how this hovering cloud of pubescence might have look to other people.
As I wasn't the subject of the Cloud's attention, nor was I the subject of the girl's attention, I took a step back and talked to the friend. I formerly introduced myself and I think this is when I noticed/mentioned that she looked like Christina Ricci - more specifically, her character Wednesday Addams. It's not secret my love and admiration for Ricci, her beauty, and her work. Trust - this is a high level compliment coming from me even to this day.
With my head out of the Cloud, Crystal drew a lot more of my attention. Not only was she incredibly attractive (look, I was 14. Cute girls were important to me then. It was a thing - hang in there), but we got along really really well. We talked all the time and it never got old or stale. She was funny and honest. Trustworthy and trusting. At that age, the "cute girl" would be important until the next "cute girl" came along or other another "cute girl" gave me more attention - Crystal was different. If you ever want to know what it's like to have a genuine FRIEND, you should meet Crystal. Today, she is just as sweet, just as caring, and just as incredible as she was the day I met her. I am so incredibly thankful for her, her husband (sorry guys, she's off the market - and he's an incredible guy too. I'm equally thankful for him and that she has him to grow old with), and our long-lasting friendship.
Before I completely forget why I went into all that (told you last blog, tangents), I would call her "Wednesday" because, again, that's about the highest compliment I could give someone and she did resemble Wednesday the same way any shorter, skinny, long black haired girl would.
Around Christmas time, I would invite her to join me and my family to this annual event called "The Living Christmas Tree". In short, this church fashioned a choir stand to a giant Christmas tree. The choir, the "living" part in all this, would sing Christmas carols and it was always a lovely time. She would accept this invitation and I learned that she played in a bell choir. My favorite carol was, and still is, "Carol of the Bells". So was hers. So, I would affectionately change my nickname for her to "Bells" and she's responded to that name ever since.
To be honest, the focus of this blog entry was actually to be a letter to my younger self. More accurately, a telling of the things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self. This was inspired by a picture that popped up of Crystal and I at about age 15-16 and I included that in a "Happy Birthday" social media post.
Confession time: I've taken a LOT of pictures since then. Pictures at parties. Pictures with girlfriends. I've gotten married. I've had four children. I've taken so many pictures with my wife and kids. But if I had to pick my ALL TIME favorite picture, it'd be this picture with me and Crystal.
I was going to title this entry "Dear Dwan,", but I think that this has become something special. So, instead, I'll change the title to "To Crystal:" and let my heartfelt words be my gift.
Crystal, "Wednesday", "Bells", I love you. I hope you have an incredible birthday. I'll see you soon.
P.S, - In case the thumbnail doesn't show the way it should, here it is: