L.A. Affairs: I found my sixth-grade crush on Tinder


I was in sixth grade and I was 12. I was attending a private Jewish school in Sherman Oaks. It was the start of a new school year, and I couldn’t have been more excited. The thrill of finally having my own locker like the older kids was coming true.

But there was more. I was also in love.

Seeing my crush was tricky, since the girls were on the second floor and the boys were on the third floor. The only time sixth-grade girls and boys could see each other during the school day was on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the boys came to the second floor lab for their science class. I would always find an excuse to be in the hallway at just the right time to catch a glimpse as he entered the lab or when he left to go back upstairs.

One day after his science class, just as he was about to close the lab door behind him, I gave a wave from across the crowded school hallway. He waved back.

A few days later, I got an AIM — remember those AOL instant messenger alerts? It was from a “MrEddy,” Edan’s nickname. It just said “hey.” It was him. My heart was pounding. I said “hey” back. We didn’t have much to talk about, but somewhere in our very brief conversation he asked me, “Do you want to be my GF”?

I didn’t know what being someone’s GF meant.

But I said yes.

Aside from those brief AIM messages, we saw each other only from across the hallway before and after science class every Tuesday and Thursday. Those were my favorite days.

A few weeks later, he told me his family was moving to Israel. I was heartbroken. We promised to write letters. Yes, old-fashioned, hand-written letters.

A few months after that, my mom told me we were taking a family trip to Israel. Yes! I begged my mom to let me visit my “BF.” To my delight, she agreed, and we made an afternoon trip to Edan‘s home, which was about a 30-minute drive from my cousin’s house, where we were staying. At the end of the visit, his mom took a picture of us standing side by side in their driveway. We hugged good-bye as our mothers looked on.

Edan and I promised to keep writing to each other. But the distance became too difficult. We had to “break up.” It was tough, but I moved on. Eventually.

After I graduated from UCLA in 2013, I decided it was time to get out of Los Angeles. I decided to try Israel. I was ready for an adventure. I had family there. And I’d begun dating a guy I’d met while doing my senior year abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I told myself that if I wasn’t happy in Israel after one year, I would move back to Los Angeles. Simple.

Well, one year turned into seven. The college boyfriend and I broke up not long after I made the move, but by then I’d begun making friends and had a job in marketing. I loved living in Israel. Still, there was no one serious in my life. (I never considered reaching out to Edan because I’d heard he was in a serious relationship; I saw a picture of the two of them on Facebook.)

Fast forward to two years ago, and the era of Tinder (the updated version of AIM). I was sitting in a bar in Tel Aviv with two friends and looking at my Tinder app. Edan’s name popped up. Age 27. Wait. It couldn’t be my sixth-grade crush, could it? It had been 16 years, but the face looked familiar. I swiped. But nothing happened. No reply. No match.

Maybe it wasn’t him.

The next day, I received a Facebook Messenger alert. And there he was. My sixth-grade BF. I was shocked. He said he’d wanted to swipe right on Tinder too but thought a Facebook message would be more appropriate for two old friends. We chatted a bit, catching up. He asked if I’d like to meet for a drink.

We made plans to meet at a bar near my apartment in Tel Aviv.

It was as if 16 years melted away and suddenly we were back in sixth grade, waving at each other from across a crowded hallway.

He looked the same, just all grown up. We talked all night, almost until the bar closed. He was single too. He walked me home, and I just knew. Two years to the day after we reunited, he proposed. And one day after that, we went back to his mother’s home to celebrate fate and to recreate the photo in the driveway.

Couple as sixth-grade classmates and as a couple almost 17 years later.

Sixth-grade classmates Edan Hashai and Talia Zimmerman posed for this photo in August 2003 and then lost touch with each other for nearly 17 years. They re-created that photo in September 2020, one day after Edan asked his middle school crush to marry him and she said yes.

(Photos courtesy of Talia Zimmerman. Photo illustration by Jan Molen / Los Angeles Times)

The author lives in Tel Aviv and works in marketing. She and Edan are getting married on the beach in August. COVID-19 restrictions permitting, they expect half the attendees to be from L.A.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email [email protected]. You can find submission guidelines here.


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