Remembering youthful love lost, even where it was never won
All in all, I led a very blessed childhood. This can probably be attributed to my family, which is functional to the point of strangeness. Not only has no one ever drunk too much and thrown a pie at Thanksgiving, but no one has ever drunk too much and thrown a pie, a baked ham, a pumpkin, a Passover Seder plate, a secularly purchased Easter egg or a pamphlet honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. — to name a few holidays when I would’ve appreciated a little dysfunction. We all just sit around the table and exchange nice pleasantries. It’s weird.
Because of this, I was forced to find alternate sources of anguish as a child. Luckily, my elementary and middle school experiences were governed by a host of unrequited love. In those days, I would have given anything for requited love — though to be honest, I would have settled for my love to be just plain quited. Once would have been enough.
It started in kindergarten. His name was Jonathan, and I still think about him every time I hear “All Star” by Smash Mouth. I would dream sweet dreams of Jonathan accompanied by SM’s gentle crooning as I rode my bike around the cul-de-sac, handle streamers flying in the wind. I could never figure out why Jonathan didn’t see how cool I was. I mean, my handles had streamers. I was basically a young Kate Upton.
Next came Danny. He was notable in that my first grade class was required to give Valentine’s Day cards to all our classmates, and I still did not get one from Danny. That one still hurts.
Second grade was perhaps the only year of my life when I steered clear of boys completely. That was also the year I learned about sex. I remember thinking sex was really scary in that, logistically, there was no way neither party involved would not a) get smushed or b) have to go to the bathroom mid-act. It is likely my general confusion in this area directly contributed to my yearlong hiatus from men.
In third grade, I met Edward. Though I could not relay to you any substantive interactions Edward and I had, I could still paint you a very accurate picture of his face. This is because I would single him out from our class photo and stare at him for hours on end. Third grade was a sad time. Edward was wearing a red polo in the picture.
I’ll skip ahead to fifth and sixth grade. Surprisingly enough, there was actually another Edward. It’s like young me really wanted to date an 18th century British baron. Ultimately, I felt pretty validated when “Twilight” came out.
Unfortunately, I can trace many of my trust issues back to Edward #2. Like, if he won’t take you to the sixth grade dance after you give him your chips every day for two years, what are you even doing at all? Does he expect you to just give them up and get nothing in return? I don’t think Edward realized there were plenty of other boys who also wanted my chips, and they probably wouldn’t wait until midnight to call (my home phone and ask my mom if they could speak with) me.
That part always made me so mad – I mean, at that hour, Edward’s intentions were perfectly clear. I would give him the homework answers, go to bed and dream of better tomorrows.
Sadly, my story does not end with Edward 2.0. In middle school there would be another boy, and I distinctly remember trying to re-learn how to play the guitar so there could be teardrops on it. It was two years of Taylor Swift and a lot of pop rock. You could not pay me to go back to it, because I would inevitably spend all the money you paid me on Hollister.
As I move toward a more relevant era of heartbreak, I’ll move to cut my narrative short. I hope I have clearly conveyed the baggage I carry when engaging in present romantic affairs. My family may not have done me in, but Valentine’s Day circa 2001 surely did. And I can’t even get drunk and throw a pie to show it.
Julia’s column runs biweekly Thursdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.