Please join me in welcoming, multi-published author, Michael John Sullivan as he shares a memory from his childhood.
How a childhood crush propelled his love for a unique combination of poetry, writing and hockey.
My Childhood Crush by Michael John Sullivan
She was the most beautiful girl I had seen in the eighth grade. Valentina, with her long blonde hair, spoke eloquently in her Lithuanian accent. “The Big Bad Bruins were once again reduced to ruins.”
It was 1974 and I sat mesmerized in English class. I didn’t even yawn as she read her poem. It was beautiful. It rhymed. Heck, what did I know about poetry. I could discuss baseball averages and recite football statistics with clarity and skill. But Valentina was the first female who stirred something more inside me. Not only did she love hockey, but she could educate me – me! – on the best hockey players.
There was only one problem – she loved the NY Rangers. I did not. I was more enthralled with the area’s new franchise – the underdog, New York Islanders. What I found even more intriguing about her poem was her hatred for the Boston Bruins. Bobby Orr happened to be my favorite player because he wrote back to me when I sent a fan letter.
I charmed her with my hockey knowledge and engaged her with my fascination with Bobby Orr. We were in the same home room, so I saw her first in the morning and later in the afternoon. I sweet talked her often, occasionally nudging her with my hip. I would say in a shy whisper, “Got you, hip check.” She would flash the most beautiful smile.
Yet, I was shy, painfully shy around her.
When we graduated from grade school, we signed each other’s signature books. I finally opened up how I felt about our friendship. Then we parted ways for the summer and I thought I’d never see her again since we went to different high schools.
Until one autumn day in 1975 – when she got on the same bus as I was going home. There was a seat open next to me and she sat down beside me. My heart raced, wanting to speak to her. Yet, my shyness overwhelmed any chance. I couldn’t even say hello. Nor did she. I watched her get up and leave the bus, never knowing if I would see her again.
The beauty of Valentina’s voice and her love of hockey opened up many aspects of my life – the wonder of poetry and writing and hockey. What it also did was teach me a lesson – one I try to remember every day – never let a moment become a regret.
I wonder to this day how she is doing. I ask a similar questions in my latest novel, EVERYBODY’S DAUGHTER.
What would you say to a loved one after they died? My main character, Michael Stewart, is given a special gift—to speak to his deceased wife for one last time. It’s one of the more poignant moments in the book in which two people have an opportunity to not only forgive each other for their failings but also realize that forgiveness is one of our greatest gifts.
Don’t let today slip away. There may be someone like Valentina ready to reach your heart with a poem. Relish the moment.
How many Valentinas have you known?
Michael John Sullivan’s Book Shelf:
For the past 18 years, Michael has been a stay-at-home dad. In between changing diapers, warming baby bottles and juggling taxi and homework duties for his now teenage daughters, he pursued a sports writing career, covering high school sports for Scout.com, a company owned by Fox Sports, Inc. Besides sports, his favorite activities are creating memorable moments with his family and pinching a few cookies and chocolate treats from his daughter’s and wife’s stash.
Michael resides in New York City with his wife, two daughters and “Little Brother,” the family’s Malti Poo.
To learn more about Michael and his writing journey, please click here to visit his website.
Michael, thank you for sharing your childhood memory with us, and I look forward to having you come back to the blog when your book is released and we can talk about your inspiration behind EVERYBODY’S DAUGHTER.