Cutie with the gelled hair – 2001
Your face is starting to elude my memory now, but almost any blonde-haired, blue-eyed third grader has got to be a cutie. Isn’t it weird that feelings actually exist at the pure age of eight? Twelve years later and I’m still a kid, but I do have to remind myself of the mental capacity of children.
Anyways, you always gelled your hair back, the dark crevices in between sections of hair like black streaks. It was a terrible hairstyle, and I grew up always, and still, disliking gel-styled hair. I can’t remember what you were like at all, but it must have made me forget about the top of your head.
That year my parents were gifted a religious book titled something like, “What You Say is What You Get”. When they told me it was absolutely true–that what I would say is what I would get–I was elated. So one afternoon while I waited in the car for my dad, I cleared my little throat and to no one proclaimed, “One day I will marry [you]”.
I’m cringing at that memory, but I should be used to my drama and embarrassment by now. In the mean time, I’ve also gotten used to the fact that not everything my parents tell me is true and life takes more than words locked inside of a silver van.
You in the red polo – 2003
I can’t picture the fourth grade you without your summer-colored skin in a red polo. Again, I can’t remember what it is that made me crush on you, and it makes me miss a time when such things could happen without reason.
I still remember your birthday that year. It was supposed to be a happy day even though I didn’t see you. It was simply your day. But that morning I fought with my cousin and hid under the covers in tears. Later that day, my mom made me hold my cousin’s hand on a neighborhood walk. And like she would say many times before and after, “You’re such a good kid.” I don’t know how much longer I can keep that one up.
One time in high school my girlfriend and I jokingly sent you sexy text messages, and we waited anxiously for your reaction. We both laughed when you responded back with disgust, but I was kind of confused. The next year you came out.
You’ve moved to New York City, stopped wearing red polos, lost the baby fat, and found God and drugs. The last time we talked you were on a bus, escaping to Boston. It’ll be your birthday again in two days and I hope you don’t need to escape anymore.
My first slow dance – 2006
We slow danced to classic N’Sync: “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You.” I downloaded it onto my iPod that night, and for a while, listened to it before falling asleep. I can still remember the way you couldn’t even look at me because you were that shy. Or maybe I was that unattractive–it’s possible when I look at pictures from the time. In any case, I think you were my favorite to love in the most innocent and junior high kind of love.
It’s entirely your fault that from that point on, December has always reminded me of romance, or the lack thereof some years. That Christmas, our friend’s mom watched as we exchanged presents. Later she told me, “I can tell he really likes you by the way he looks at you.” That still makes my heart melt to this day.
I loved you in this way for almost three years, even when we weren’t together. We’re still friends, and things should have gotten weird last summer, but they didn’t. We went back to our junior high one night last June, lying on the cement ground where we used to sit for lunch. We looked up at what little we could see of the stars in Southern California, counting how many years it had been since we’d last been in that spot. The spot where seven years ago, two counselors told us we couldn’t be holding hands on school grounds. I wonder how much more trouble we’d be in if they ever found out seven years later, we kissed right there. At least I didn’t hold your hand.
The angry one – 2009
Sometimes I still think this never should have happened. I was still trying to forget about my first slow dance from 2006 and you were always mad. Good thing you didn’t know who I was really thinking about, because you would’ve been furious. But rightfully, at that.
We don’t talk anymore but you became best friends with one of my childhood friends after we so thankfully ended. You found God when I lost Him, and when I saw our friend last month, she said you’re not so angry anymore. I sure hope so, because I still remember the time you slammed my car door in my face and followed me home. You told me my dreams were nothing but East Coast fantasies and I’ll have you know I’m transferring to a kickass music school in Philadelphia this fall with a scholarship. I hope you haven’t slammed any car doors or undermined anyone’s dreams, including your own, since then.
Summer fling – 2010
We met at a music camp in a humid and beautiful upstate New York that July. We found out we were both only children, and shared the same exact birthday, blood type, and little freckle on the center of our bottom lips. I tell myself that I started to like you on the bus ride back from that concert in Canandaigua, but I can’t be exactly sure why. It seems that my life lacks reason more than I realize.
One night we were sitting in the dorm’s game room by ourselves when an advisor came in and asked what we were doing. You said awkwardly, “Yeah, we’re just…hanging out…in here, all alone.” I face-palmed inside. A few times throughout that month, you texted me “I love you”, to which I never quite acknowledged, because you didn’t know what you were talking about. I was secretly satisfied though, finally having met someone who could be a little more embarrassing than me.
The last day of camp, I woke up at six to say goodbye, and as you made your way down the stairwell you told me you’d never forget me. I don’t think that’s true because you never talked to me again and the letter I sent you was returned. Sometimes I still wish I had those pictures of you falling asleep to Handel’s Messiah for sentimental value, but I’ve got more than enough of that without any reminders of you.
The real thing – 2010
At times I wonder what our lives would be like if you never got that haircut, because that’s when I started noticing you. And I noticed you first. You only started to notice me after I showed you the personal statement I wrote for college admissions, as if it was some kind of acceptance from you too.
We ended up in a serious relationship for nearly two years, and in that time, I seriously thought that was it. I don’t remember what it’s like to love you anymore, but even with the nasty words we can never take back, I’ll always remember our relationship fondly. We were so goofy and weird together, and I think everyone needs a safe place to unleash that side of him or her. Your family always welcomed me with kindness and love, and when you were seven hours away at school, they’d let me sleep in your bed when I couldn’t go home. I know you hated your school when we were together, but I think now you have the freedom to enjoy it, and now I have the freedom to go to my far-away, dream school.
We met up for breakfast a few months ago, and I wore my camouflage jacket to feel tough. I hadn’t seen you since our break up and I guess I was trying to protect myself, from sadness, or madness, I don’t know. But I didn’t need to. When I saw you, I knew you would never leave me mad or sad again–I would never love you again.
This past Valentine’s Day, you texted me a novel of your confessions. You didn’t know I was on a date, but it doesn’t matter because the guy never liked me like that anyways. You told me you still felt the same way, thought things could work out if we tried again. I was shocked, but I think that was the most I felt after reading all of that. I did feel slightly bad though, for isn’t it sad when someone whose world you once affected so deeply became a someone whose world you had no more impact on?