The year was 1971, I was in Mr. Harms sixth grade class at Hudson elementary.  One day, I found a note in my desk, not any note, THE note.  It said, “I like you, do you like me?”  Check Yes or No! Signed, Chris.  So I did what girls in Mr. Harm’s sixth grade class at Hudson elementary do, I showed it to the girl who shared my desk, Lee Ann Marquis… and we giggled. After school, I was walking home through the park and saw Christopher DeVito, a small framed boy with horned rim glasses and slicked back black hair, standing by the swings. I have never been cruel and certainly, even in sixth grade, I didn’t want to be unkind, so I awkwardly approached him and we talked for a minute, one eternal minute. He asked me, “Why did you show the note to Lee Ann?” I still remember being surprised that he had seen me do that and I still remember being embarrassed that maybe I hurt his feelings. Now I know that Christopher DeVito and I had no future together, but I also knew in that moment that when someone “likes” you and you don’t “like” back that there is pain involved. Sharing a “like” with someone puts you in a vulnerable position, sharing a “like” opens you up to a “dislike,” whether it is sharing a favorite movie, a book, a recipe or your heart!  I didn’t learn everything I needed to know in kindergarten or even sixth grade for that matter, but that day I learned something that I have carried through my life—unrequited “like” hurts.

 Etched in cheap jewelry boxes and painted on rose covered refrigerator magnets has always been the saying, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and love you anyway.” A friend is someone who knows your likes and dislikes and holds that trust carefully in her heart. We are all vulnerable human beings and we are all unique in so many ways. One only has turn the radio dial to hear the myriad of different sounds out there to know that there is no “one-size fits all” in any area of our life. From the music we listen to, to the books we read, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, and the politics we espouse; we all have our own tastes and styles. But, nothing is more endearing than to have someone say, “I like it, because you like it.”  Or, “If it is important to you, it is important to me.”

Many years ago, my sisters and I had gone to lunch with my stepmother. During lunch we talked and in a moment of openness each shared what business they would like to have if we could do anything we wanted. My step-mother wanted to have a dog-grooming business and my sister wanted to decorate cakes—did I blurt out, “I would rather be dead than do either of those things” or did I just think it? I can’t remember now, but that day still haunts me. Whether I said it or thought it, I am sorry. Fortunately, I have grown and matured and hopefully come to understand that our different likes and dreams and talents and goals are all part of the package of who we are….and now that I have been the recipient of my sisters many cakes and have come to understand how dogs worm their way into your heart—death just doesn’t sound so appealing anymore!

Modern technology has all but replaced the folded notebook paper hastily tucked inside a desk, but nothing will ever replace the vulnerability we experience when we ask someone “do you like me yes or no?” FaceBook and Blogger have given us a whole new wonderful way to communicate and share with people, but it has also opened our life to new criticisms and susceptibility. Putting ourselves out daily into the public square is both a way to connect and bond with others and  “scary as hell.”  Mark Zuckerberg, the guru of social networking and boy genius, must have known exactly what he was doing when he didn’t put a thumbs down or “dislike” button on FaceBook—(oh yeah, he had just been jilted). If only I could have been as smart as he was at that age!

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10 Responses to “Like”

  1. Katelyn says:

    I loved this! I’m so lucky that I have such an amazing friend like you!

  2. Barbara Witzke says:

    Colleen__I love you (don’t be so hard on yourself, we are all humans and make mistakes)–Love, Mom

  3. ColleenDown says:

    Thanks Mom–not trying to be hard on myself, just laugh at myself, it was sixth grade, Mr. Harms class, Hudson Elementary, Tempe Arizona, 1971! Those were the days….

    P.S. Chris DeVito, front and center first row.
    Colleen Ussery far right, all american girl

  4. Jessica Gregory says:

    I “like” this article. Thanks for having the courage to put yourself out there so we can all benefit from your wisdom and your blog:) I hope to be as authentic as you one day.
    Is Chris DeVito his real name or an alias? B/c I just googled that name and 2 guys came up. A criminal and a business exec. at Goldman and Sachs. Ha Ha. If it is the later maybe you should have checked “like” 😉 J/K i would much rather be a Down than a DeVIto!

  5. Carolyn Chase says:

    I liked this (even if it did bring up some of those schooldays memories) and I like you. I’m so glad you came into my life.

  6. Heather says:

    A very touching post. I think we’ve all had someone both mock something important to us or show genuine interest because they cared. Thanks for the reminder to be sure and do the latter.

  7. I love and like your words!!! keep em coming!

  8. Lindsey says:

    Really good thoughts, aunt colleen! I’m sure everyone has an experience like yours they can relate to. p.s. i loved seeing you back in the elementary days!

  9. Cheryl says:

    I know we talked about this on the phone but I wanted to publicly acknowledge your post. I bet this really struck a chord with anyone who read it because I can’t imagine that we haven’t all been in that situation. I think what it teaches us is that should all have the courage to politely put our “likes” out on the table, and we should all have the courtesy to acknowledge and appreciate the “likes” of those around us. Thanks for putting yours out there and for making it possible for us to think about this.

  10. Cathy G. says:

    My slowness is commenting has only to do with being away from a computer, not considering whether I “like” or not! I completely “Like”! It is always hard to share ourselves and risk being misunderstood or even just disagreed with. As usual, you eloquently shared a universal dilemma in a beautiful way!

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