Being young is weird and fun. And the initial discovery of romantic love is a memorable malady.
Taking those first steps into the conscience, the feeling and the aching, feels so natural. Little do we know that each step is breaking through the crisp illusion of the world being a nice, easy, happy, loving place.
Eventually we fall through the once thick facade of childhood. Eventually we learn to stay afloat in the abyss of reality.
This sounds like a dramatic reference to a first love/heartbreak, but I do think that it is the first time we feel feelings which is responsible for splitting the image in two.
I was thirteen, hiding in the curtains backstage, watching his shadowy face from afar. He was very eccentric and people liked him, but nobody saw him the way I did. I saw an absolute gem of a fifteen year old boy – unlike anyone I had watched or heard before. It is lucky that we start out so brave and unaware, or maybe we wouldn’t risk it.
We shared a scene in the play, and I used the opportunity to tell him my name. I remember the absolute sweetness that shone through my little voice as I asked him his name. I must have had some impact, as on opening night, he held my face in his hands in a very unscripted way.
He played guitar and sang at a very ‘hobby’ skill level. But it was amazing because he was just so weird. He sat up on stage at the school talent show and introduced me to Under The Bridge. There is nothing remotely off-putting about the feeling of a crush or even first love. It feels like a flawless feeling which has a very simple path to follow. You really want to feel it, and the unrequited part feels transient.
I added him on Facebook and spent way too much time learning his life inside out. He cultivated his strangeness so bravely. At least it inspired me to be a more real and strange version of myself.
Six months after the first meeting, and after many one sided conversations, he talked to me. I had discovered mascara and a primitive form of the art of attraction. We met for a school lunch, which marked a first terrible kiss and a hasty entrance into a partnership, which he heroically ended three days later. I was swept up by absolute confusion about how unpredictable the world could be, when it existed in the form of another person. I didn’t give up on paying him endless attention, but he made it clear that he would definitely never love me back.
Another six months on, I had become someone he wanted to spend time with. I was a bit broken, not so sweet, and I was imbued with the invaluable touch of reality. We met after school and sat in strange places and the conversation I had with him existed on another plane from that with my fourteen year old associates. Sixteen was the pinnacle of maturity.
Another six months on, we kissed in those places. I didn’t always start the conversations and as we passed each other at school, we were strangers, with familiar gazes. At this point in time, I was a dream. Emotionally broken enough to need someone to heal me, but naive enough to be really eager and throw myself into everything remotely dangerous.
Another six months on, we were meeting after school. The way I could communicate with this person felt like the most intimate thing I had done. There were so many reasons (in the form of other people and fear), that our very strange friendship was restricted content.
Another six months on, he had grown tired. After two long years of back and forth, we stopped. Totally broken, totally hopeless, totally bitter.
A year on, we met. Everybody liked him now, he was cool-strange, and had a girlfriend. I couldn’t speak to him, and all I felt was expectation.
He move interstate and over the eighteen months after that, he sent occasional emails about how magical my memory was.
Two years on, I had spent a lot of time alone and was so strong and unbreakable, that I agreed when he asked me to meet him. We did so in one of our old places, and we talked but not with the honesty and vulnerability that youth allows. We didn’t kiss. I didn’t want to.
That day made me realise how rare it is to be a real person and find real connections with other real people. I didn’t want to touch someone or something that didn’t feel real.
Then we never spoke again. I don’t miss our friendship, I don’t miss our communication, I don’t ever feel like talking to him. I don’t wonder about him or what he is doing or how he is, and I think I would only feel slightly strange if he died.
I went from being a child, to a mess, to a real person in the time that I knew him, and he only fits vaguely into one of those periods of time. And it’s definitely not now.