Disclaimer: Loads of V-Day prompts are floating around out there, and since I’ve made it my aim to publish something every day in February, I’m taking part. Here goes nothing.
When I was fourteen, I swore I was in love. He was seventeen, we liked the same football team, and he let me drive his car to the park to do donuts. I was absolutely certain that the feeling bubbling over me could be nothing less than complete affection and devotion. It was love in every way I looked at it. But I was mistaken. See, fourteen is a tender age. The more I look back on it, the easier it becomes to chuckle and shake my head at that version of myself. Maybe it was love at that point in my life, and that was simply the span and flavor of that emotion that I was capable of back then. Maybe it had to do with summertime and its associated freedoms. Maybe I was mistaking kindness from a cute friend as something more than kindness. These are things I have yet to determine, but I can tell you I did not love that boy the way I loved the next.
In the winter that followed, I grew up a little bit. I was still just fourteen, but I moved past the older boy I’d never belong to and found myself face-to-face with someone new. Someone eerily similar to me. We met the day before his sixteenth birthday, and spoke every day thereafter until things fizzled out halfway through the following year. He cared so much and wanted so badly to make me happy. But being with him was holding a mirror to myself, and at an age when we were struggling so much to figure ourselves out, it got a little messy at times. I never questioned if I loved him though – I did. I still sort of do, but in a different way. He was just one of those people who wasn’t ever meant to stay long.
When I was seventeen, I met someone whose path I could have crossed a hundred times earlier but hadn’t. We clicked in a way that I’d previously never believed in, and I accidentally fell in love with him. We were different on so many levels, but I still think we were fundamentally built of the same materials. He hated my sports teams and picked fights over missed opportunities, but I’d never so enjoyed watching someone trip over his words like I did as he tried, in the most genuine way, to be open with me. This was a kind of love that I never spoke of, never really acted on. It was a curious feeling that bubbled under an incredible friendship. Nothing since has felt anything close to the same, but I’ve decided that’s okay. He’s not one to replace.
When I turned nineteen, there was a boy beside me trying a little too hard to come across as a man. I liked him a lot. In fact, toward the end, I thought I might have loved him. He was something of a gateway to adult relationships. For the first time, I was working to fit a relationship around the life I already had rather than abandoning my responsibilities in the name of love. The chemistry was there, too. Our priorities were different, which is fine, but our ideas of compromise were far from compatible. The more I think back to this one, the angrier I become. I’ve realized that I stayed with him longer than I should have and sacrificed more than he deserved, and he wasn’t worth the hurt he caused. I did it all because he reminded me of someone else who had been worth it. I still don’t know if I actually loved him, and this bothers me more than I’ll ever say.
Finally, as I’m closing in on twenty-one, I’ve found a sense of peace in being alone. That’s why I was frustrated to no end when I suddenly developed a crush on someone who so clearly isn;t cut out for me…