On Valentine’s Day, a knock sounded at the door of our old farmhouse.

My mother, who, as usual, was in the kitchen, answered the door.

She called, ” Elaine, there is someone here to see you.”

I peeked around the living room door and saw Ronnie, a cute blond-haired boy from my class.

He was holding a red, heart-shaped box of chocolates in his hand.

I was 12 years old and shy and somewhat of a tomboy.

When I entered the room, he handed me the box of chocolates, saying, “These are for you, Happy Valentine’s Day.”

My first Valentines’s gift and my first admirer and I was tongue-tied.

Looking back, I do not remember if I even said hello or thank you to this romantic young man.

I know I was flattered by the attention, but feared my lack of social skills would end his little infatuation with me.

A few days before his visit, this same boy, who sat at the desk behind me in school, passed me a folded-up piece of paper.

When I opened the little missive, it said, “I love you, your eyes sparkle.”

I had just begun what would turn out to be an extremely awkward and long-lasting adolescence, and had no idea how to respond to this young Romeo.

So I just pretended nothing had happened.

My awkwardness with the opposite sex would extend into my teen years, and cause me some heartache.

I preferred my books to conversation, and was a late bloomer.

Adding to my social problems, I needed glasses and this made me more self-conscious. I continued to have a few admirers, but was not comfortable and never knew what to say on a date, so I usually found an excuse not to go.

My Saturday nights were spent baby-sitting or at home with my first love: my books.

All the romance in my life came from the stories I read.

After graduating from high school, I left home to go away to school.

Gaining confidence, I came out of my shell and began enjoying parties and social occasions.

It was now fun to go out to dinner, the movies or a dance with a nice young fellow.

I met and started dating a good looking, witty, polite young man, and as a bonus he was an excellent dancer.

We dated for a year, and then became engaged.

One warm sunny July day, we exchanged wedding vows, and he became my Valentine.

But tucked into a little corner of my heart is the memory of my first valentine, and my romantic love note.

When feeling down or unloved, I have these little keepsakes to make my eyes sparkle, and remind me for a short time I was Juliet.

Elaine Parker is a resident of South Portland.