When I was in third grade I liked this boy named Jake. We wrote short stories together and sat together in class. I was pretty sure he liked me. Or that's how I like to remember it at least. The next year I moved on to Nathaniel Brown, who also sat next to me and gave me a valentine that said "I love sitting next to you". It wasn't I love you. But it was close enough for my fourth grade heart. There were more boys after that. Oliver, who sat next to me and made jokes, and then Connor who sat next to me in fifth grade. We did our math homework together and talked about books and school and volunteered together in the library every week. And then there was Kyle. I actually knew he liked me back. He wrote me love letters to tell me. He was very sweet. I ripped up those letters when it ended. After that there was Paul, in seventh (and I must admit, part of eighth) grade. He had blonde curly hair and he was funny. My weak spot. But then, after that, nothing. I got to high school, and I never had feelings like that again. I forgot what it felt like to feel like that. It was kind of nice in a way. Nothing to distract me or get my hopes up. But it was also kind of annoying. I was the lamest person in truth or dare. "Who do you like?" "No one". Yeah, not that interesting. But I was fine with that. I could handle boring. But then, out of the blue, Henry had to go and ruin all that.
It's always been a big plot point in movies and books, where the guy a girl likes says something mean to her or doesn't like her back, and she goes home crying. I never really understood those girls. This week I was one of those girls. It was awful. I felt so pathetic and stupid. I hated myself for it. How could I ever think he could like me? Why did I even care? Oh god, I'm such a pathetic little girl. I can't stand myself. But I can understand all those girls in all those movies.
When I was little everyone used to say "like" if they liked someone as a friend, and "like like" if they liked someone as more than a friend. I always assumed this was some little kid thing. I assumed there was an actual work, more sophisticated than "like like". I was wrong. It's still called "like like". And it still sucks when he doesn't "like like" you back.