Saturday, February 4, 2012

The First Boy

The other day, someone asked about the boy. Well, here's the answer:


I never really liked him. That’s the thing. From the very beginning, it was about the idea of him. The actual him was not nearly as attractive to me.

I never thought he was cute. In fact, most of the time, I thought he was aggressively uncute. While we were dating, I spent hours trying to convince myself that he was attractive. Physically appealing in some way, any way. I looked through his pictures on Facebook, stared at his face from every angle. But I could never see it, no matter how hard I tried.

It’s a cliché for middle-aged women to say that a guy is perfect on paper. Well, I hope it’s slightly less of a cliché to say that when you’re eighteen. Because that’s what he was. He had the blond hair. He was improbably from the same hometown. He wanted kids and a serious relationship and he was serious about school. All checkmarks.

All those checkmarks, and yet, from the very first conversation we had, I knew I didn’t like him. If we hadn’t been dating, we wouldn’t have been friends. It was as if dating was what we had in common. It was the subject we talked about the most. It gave us an excuse to talk about intimate things that we would have never talked about otherwise. It was as if we were just filling the societal convention of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. It wasn’t like we had anything in common.

I’ve always been obsessed with romance. I read all the books, follow all the tv shows, and watch all the romantic comedies. I’ve always had an idea of romance. That’s why the idea of him was so appealing. I wanted to be like my favourite heroines; I wanted to make him into my favourite love interests. But our story wasn’t like any of those stories. It was more painfully real: his awkward attempts to kiss me, my reflex to run away. It was so much less perfect: his expectations, my inexperience. In the books, the well-written relationships weren’t easy, but the romance, the attraction was always automatic. We weren’t that way. We didn’t fit; there were no fireworks. I didn’t know what to think.



Of course, it ended. Sooner than I hoped, but longer than I expected. All throughout, I felt a lack of control. A lack of understanding of why he would pick me. Like he could realize he was wrong at any moment. As much time as I spent trying to like him, I spent ten times more trying to not to get attached to him. I knew it would end. I couldn’t trust it, and I suppose I was right. It did end after all.

When it was over, I expected to be hurt. But, instead, at least at first, I felt relieved. I had spent so long pretending. Trying to like him, trying to fit into the definition of why he liked me. I felt so out of my league, and I was in so far over my head. Every moment we were talking, I was rushing ahead to make sure we kept the conversation going. Every moment I was thinking: am I doing this right? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with him?

So, initially, it was a relief. But then, it was just awful. Because I had built my life around him. My nights. My thoughts. My idea of myself. And I lost all of that. And it’s taken so long to get it back. And I still have so many questions.

I want to ask him if I was the best he could get. I mean, he wasn’t that cute, and he wasn’t that nice. So maybe he didn’t really like me—maybe I was all that was available, so desperate for something, so inexperienced at everything, that I’d fall for anyone. I want to know if it was only the sex thing that made us end. Because so much of me believes it was more than that. I start thinking that that was just an excuse. That really, he realized he didn’t actually like me. That I did something else to screw it up.


I wanted to ask him all this; I would have been friends with him. But, instead, he just left. We live fifty metres from each other, and I have literally never seen him since. That’s beyond improbable, so close to the edge of impossible. I want to know where he’s been hiding.

But I don’t know. So I still have questions. And I’m still left with a hole. Because even if I never really liked him, I allowed him to know me in a way no one else ever has. He saw me in a way never else ever did, and now he owns a piece of me I can never give to anyone else. He will always be my first kiss, my first boyfriend, my first break up. I will carry his name around for the rest of my life, telling our story to future friends and boyfriends. Even though he’s such an unimportant, unattractive person to me now, the idea of his was so important and so appealing for so long that he’ll always be a part of my history.

Because even though we only dated for a month, I was waiting for him so long before that. And now that I know what it’s like to find him, the waiting is so much harder.    



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