Love, The First Kind…
In middle school, I was not the pretty girl. Period. I have the evidence to show you–I promise. I had really bad skin, horrible teeth, basically one eyebrow, and just not cute.
On top of it all, I totally felt not cute.
I’m sure we can all relate in some way. So, I let my personality do the talking, and let me tell you, it was front and center. As I said, there I was, singing at my church, making altar serving look like the runway, and speaking my mind (and eating all the donuts) in Confirmation class.
Luckily, with the help of Accutane, waxing, and Dr. Meharg (my orthodontist), I entered junior year with a new found confidence. I felt like the me I always wanted to be, if that makes sense. I also entered a new school and on my first day I saw him. He was walking down the hall with his backpack.
He had this quiet way about him–total opposite (and I mean total) and I was hooked.
He was the boy for me. All the normal rom-com things ensued: I’m not his type. He won’t like me. I’m too loud for him (I was too loud for him.) How will I ever talk to him? Will he think I’m pretty? Smart? Funny? We will ever be at the same place at the same time. He leaves every event early, always. (He did always leave early.)
Eventually, we found ourselves talking on the 2nd hole at a late night party on a golf course.
Yes, I come from a place where we have parties on golf courses. And no, no one was playing golf. I also come from a place where I worked at said golf course and had to pick up the mess of my friends the next day.
Other rom-com moments ensued: Him finally calling me but I was out getting ice-cream. When my mom told me, I literally fell over the coffee table with excitement. He suggested a first date, but I had plans with my best friend already. She told me I was an idiot.
She instructed me to call him back and say, “Actually, I’m totally available to see Jurassic Park 3 with you.”
And yes, I was leaving the next day to go to Washington D.C. to attend Girls’ Nation (total nerd alert) as one of the two “Senators” picked to represent New York, and he should totally come over and help me pack. He did.
And just like that, it happened–the boy I wanted, I got.
He was everything I thought he would be and more. And that summer was glorious, quite possibly the most glorious of my life. And yes, he did give me a jar of pickles. But soon, too soon, it would all fade. Alas, the boy met “another girl at school” and he didn’t want to be with me anymore.
The normal (?) things ensued: not being able to eat, endless crying, constantly listening to Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly,” checking his AIM hoping he’d message and say he changed his mind, making sure my AIM “away message” made me look super busy, and totally not worried about him.
Me watching The Real World (New Orleans) in bed with my best friend while eating a lot of peanut butter, banana sundaes, and still thinking it was a good idea to ask him to come to my prom with me (Horrible idea. Poor guy, he didn’t want to go.) and go to one of his college lacrosse games (um, what?). I looked Victoria Beckham chic, but I was miserable and so, so sad.
In short, I was heartbroken and I didn’t quite know how to define it or deal with it.
For a long time (most of my 20s, really), I was on the hunt to find this kind of love again. One that was so innocent, fun, and beautiful. One out of a Nicholas Spark’s novel. One that made me giddy to get up everyday.
Someone who was kind and listened to me. Someone who laughed at my jokes and made me a CD with Eve 6 and Van Morrison; someone who baked me Chiquita Banana Cookies (the best cookie EVER) when they didn’t sell them at Wegmans anymore.
Someone who would hang out with my grandparents, like in a Trisha Yearwood song. Someone like Patrick. I was endlessly disappointed, because no one could ever live up to the quiet boy with the backpack.
And at 30 years old, here’s what I know: No one ever will. Period. Because that moment was that moment.
Nostalgia can be amazing because good memories should be cherished, but, so often, nostalgia can also keep us stuck in the past, and hold us back from moving forward. Hold us back from taking a chance on new experiences, making new memories–new nostalgia. My time in high school happened how it was supposed to. It shaped me into who I am today, and decisions I make regarding love, life, and certainly hair removal.
Listen, I don’t mean we should start playing “I Hope You Dance” and everyone hugs (that ain’t me), but I do think we have to allow our lives to keep moving and not beat ourselves up when they don’t go in the direction we hoped they would.
What does your best date in high school tell you about yourself? What was your first love like? I want to know, because I think it all shapes who we are. Every moment helps us get to the next, don’t ya think? I tell Joe to approach cleaning that way. Just start one step at a time, and eventually it will all be cleaned. And then, other times, I think Joe should just hire a cleaning lady 😉
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