I am Nora and you are James, and we are both ok

“I think that you will like your new school,” said James’ mom. They were moving. James’ dad had just obtained a promotion at work and so the family needed to move to this new town and James to a new school. For James, that meant leaving his friends behind and starting a new school. “I am sure that I won’t like the new school,” said James.

When James arrived at his new school, he discovered that classes had already started a month ago. “This is great!” He thought sarcastically. “Not only am I in a new school and people will look at me, I’m also late and I have no idea what people have been doing for the last month.” His new teacher, Miss Sharon, met him at the door and showed him to his assigned seat. She had a kind, warm face with soft brown eyes. She did not seem mean at all, thought James. As he sat at his new seat in this strange new school, James heard a soft, gentle voice say to him “It won’t be too bad. People are good here. You just have to give them a chance.” What? He thought. Who is this speaking to me?

He turned around and there was little Nora. She was 6 years old just as he was six years old. Nora was a red-haired girl with freckles and pigtails. To James, she was not much to look at, but she was not nasty to him either. So, he decided to answer her.

“Well, that’s easy for you to say,” said James. “You grew up here.” “No, I didn’t. I moved here last month.” Said Nora. “I am almost as new here as you.” Really? Thought James. “Someone else who is new?” Maybe the two of them can have a friendship against all of these new people staring at them, he thought.

Nora reached under her desk and pulled out a piece of paper and a dark blue crayon. “Here,” she said. “Hang on to this.” She said quietly. “Whenever you get down, whenever you are not sure what to do, and whenever things get weird, take a look at this and maybe you will feel better.” On the paper, Nora wrote “I am Nora and you are James. We are both new but we are both ok.” “Huh?” Thought James. “What a corny thing to have written, but what the heck.” He put the paper in his pocket and the rest of the day continued quietly.

As the days and time passed, James and Nora remained friends. With every passing grade, they requested to sit next to each other. James discovered that Nora and her family did not live far from his house. Little by little, she was becoming a nice friend to him. They were becoming nice friends with each other.
Sometimes, on weekends and days off, James would walk to Nora’s house to ask about homework and school-related things. Nora’s mom usually made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for them and they spent warm, sunny afternoons together.

As eighth grade drew to a close, James proposed to Nora. “Someday we should get married,” he said. “Get married?” said Nora. “Yup. Get married,” said James. Little Nora did not utter a word after this and simply looked at James. His blustery dark hair was messed up as usual, but for some reason, it looked nice at that moment.
From that moment on, Nora told her friends – and her parents – that she and James would “get married someday.” Her friends laughed and her parents gently listened with a mild sense of amusement. Everyone figured that these two did not know the meaning of love. That time would take its toll and Nora and James would one day follow their life paths.

High school arrived and James was not very good at some of his studies. Nora was good at math so she helped him and tutored him in math. Nora, on the other hand, was very poor at creative writing. She could not write stories if her life depended on it. James would help her with her storywriting. Little by little the bond, which started years ago in first grade in Miss Sharon’s class, grew to become a cement that bonded these two souls. They celebrated birthdays together, went to basketball games and football games together, and, of course, to senior Prom together.

The bond between them continued to increase day by day; year by year.
As the senior year in High School approached, one day James came to Nora and noticed that she was very sad. Nora had not been accepted to a college that she had hoped to attend. She was put on their waiting list. James tried to console her. He said “It’s ok. There are other colleges,” but Nora was heartbroken. James could see the sadness in her face and the tears in her big brown eyes and her tears became his tears. Her pain became his pain.

James, on the other hand, had not made up his mind about college. He did not feel as academically gifted as Nora and felt that college might not be his future.
Not long afterward, James announced to Nora that he had joined the Army and that after High School graduation, he would be leaving for boot camp. Nora was devastated. “What?” “The army?” she asked. “And you did not tell me?”

The skies seemed to Nora to be darker than usual that day. More cold, more gloomy, and more chilly than usual for a summer day. As the end of High School approached and the day of leaving for boot camp arrived for James, Nora could not hold back her feelings of sadness and despair. She felt as if a piece of her was going away to boot camp. Nora drove James to the train station where he was to leave for boot camp.

At the train station, when Nora was there to bid goodbye to James, she held him close to her and worried if she would ever see him again. Just as she was doing so, James reached into his backpack and brought out a worn, yellowed piece of paper. On it, scrawled in dark blue crayon and in the handwriting of a 5-year-old first grader, were the words “I am Nora and you are James. We are both new but we are both ok.” Upon reading this, Nora’s eyes filled with tears and she could no longer see James. Her tears were all she could see.

Nora could not see that although James had the piece of paper in one hand, in the other hand he had a small box with two rings. He said “I promised you in 8th grade that one day I would marry you, and that day is today. Will you marry me?” said James. Nora replied “Yes! Absolutely yes! You are the love of my life! I will marry you!” and she flung her arms around James and held him as one holds that which is most dear in our life and that we do not want to let go.

On his first leave from the army, James came home. A full wedding had been planned and Nora was waiting. They held each other’s hands as they approached the church. As they arrived at the church, they noticed that above the entrance someone had written, in very large letters, the words “I am Nora and you are James. We are not new anymore, but we are both ok.”