I’m on a spiritual fast in the midst of the coronavirus quanrantine. In my down time when I’m not in prayer, I feel inspired to write a few short stories. I’ve been binging the Hulu show, High Fidelity, and like Rob, the main character who revisits her past relationships to make some sense of her recent failing one, I have agreed to do something similar. For the next seven days, I have a story for my most significant attempts at love. For the sake of everyone’s privacy, every person is nameless. From the early 2000s to 2016, I dated around. Apologies in advance, if you’re not included in the series and you thought you should be.
Picture this. I’m in middle school. My coursework is pretty advanced and specific. So specific that I don’t have much interaction with kids that aren’t smart like me. I have eight solid girlfriends, and I see the same thirty kids every day all day. I have a bus ride and two classes that give me some access to the general population of children, homeroom and art. But, I’m fighting daily with random girls in homeroom because I’m asshole that’s not afraid of anyone, and I’m making friends in art because it’s boring and I want to talk. One of my friends in art has a birthday party, and that same party is where I met my first boyfriend.
My friend is from the Virgin Islands. Her party was very Caribbean and family oriented. She may have invited about ten people from school and we all naturally drew to the same section of the party. I saw this guy for the very first time, and everyone seemed to know him but me. He’s light, he had a haircut, and his baggy t-shirt was fresh out of the pack. He was just as loud and lively as the party, so he was at the center of it dancing with girls and I was intrigued. I wanted to know him too. I love a good chase, and I’m not aware that this will be my main method of meeting guys moving forward.
I had braces at the time, but my hair was long and relaxed. I had bought an outfit from Rave earlier that day, and I was confident despite me not knowing much about the opposite sex. I squeezed my way into his area and danced too. Snap music was at its height, and a few snaps couldn’t hurt me. It’s a very communal dance, nothing suggestive about it. He snapped with me, but we both left the party not exchanging anything. My godmother got me my first cellphone. She lived in North Carolina, so I didn’t have a local area code, and I didn’t feel comfortable giving anyone my number at that time. The number was ugly.
That Monday after the party I saw him in the hallway. It was one of those scenarios where a person is not on your radar until you meet, and then you end up seeing them everywhere. He had his arms around a girl that was at the party as well, and I just so happen to know her too. She was my classmate and one of the thirty people I saw every day. She was sweet and we weren’t friends, but I knew her enough to back off. I assumed they were together, and I tried to forget about the party. I told my best friend about him, and he seemed to make other girls feel the same way. She encouraged me to let it go, but I got a friend request on Myspace later that day. It was from him.
We talked on there freely. We would laugh a majority of the time, but we never talked about the girl I saw him with. A conversation about Chris Brown came up and we decided to go see Stomp The Yard. Yes, I had my first date in eighth grade. He was extroverted so he cracked jokes during the entire movie. I haven’t embraced my sense of humor at this time, so I’m locked in on his. The date was so fun that we kissed and agreed to become exclusive. Although he and I had things in common that we’d discussed in private, I didn’t think about how this new relationship would play out in public, and that kinda fucked me up later. Keep in mind that I’m in middle school. This relationship doesn’t make it past a month (something else I didn’t prepare for at the time).
I was at lunch with my girlfriends that Monday following our date, and it was the first time our social circles were overlapping with one another. My best friend had a boyfriend, and he ate with us and played music on his Zune, but for the most part we would laugh at people, eat hot cheetos and drink kool aid jammers. He came over and I was excited to have a person for once. But, my friends didn’t like him. They thought he was loud, it was awkward and he was ruining the entire vibe of our lunch break. In short, he played too damn much for what we were used to, and I got a nonverbal signal to get him away from the table.
I decided to go hang out with him and his friends instead, and I got the same amount of disapproval. One guy even looked at my shoes, which were some Chuck Taylors that I drew on. He was not impressed. A girl showed up and everyone was pretty warm to her, him specifically. I assumed they live in the same neighborhood. My school was out of my zone, and the embrace was similar to one I would have had with the guys who lived on my block. I immediately felt insecure, which was new to me. Prior to that, guys weren’t on my mind. I was still watching cartoons.
Valentine’s Day came up and I was showered with gifts. I had candy, balloons, flowers and a set of perfume. I could barely get to my classes carrying all of that stuff around, so I had him help me. I get to my art class late because of my gifts and my art teacher, who I’m pretty close to at the time sees us. She frowned at me. She said he was in her homeroom, and I could have dated someone with more couth. By that time, I was genuinely unable to see why nobody saw what I saw im in him. He was so fun to be around to me and he was a great gift giver. I was in middle school. My standards weren’t that high at the time.
The next day he was aloof and he didn’t want to talk to me. He’s wasn’t joking around me, but I heard him down the hallway laughing with someone else a few minutes later. I tried to play out in my head what had happened overnight, but I couldn’t get an answer. I asked him what was wrong and he ignored my question. I had been texting him all day and he wouldn’t respond. I panicked.
He had a class that was in the same hallway as my class period before. I came up with some plan to leave my book in my old class, so I could see him in passing walking to his new one. I saw him, but he was with a girl. She wasn’t my classmate or the girl from lunch. He was tapping on her chin and they were extremely close. I was hurt, but my plan seemed a bit creepy, so I walked through the hallway so he wouldn’t see me. He saw me anyway. Looked a bit surprised, but he didn’t run after me. I knew the relationship was over.
For about a week, I called him after school to talk about what happened and I got forwarded to voicemail. I cried for days. My best friend and her boyfriend didn’t have problems, so I didn’t feel comfortable talking to her about it either. I just focused on school, something I wasn’t aware would be my heartbreak coping mechanism in the future.
We’re about to graduate and I see him everywhere, but now in the same lense as my friends. We could say hi and bye and it wouldn’t be weird. But, I also opened up a bit more in the same year. I started making everyone laugh, despite my best friend being the funnier one. I got in trouble a lot more too, but I realized he brought that out of me. All of the fun and adventure that I seeked in the relationship were parts of myself I haven’t discovered yet. I hate that I had to find an aspect of my personality through disappointment and rejection, but I think that is kinda how life works. I wish I could tell you all that I learned to not ignore red flags or signs with the girls, but I have more stories to tell where I didn’t follow my gut. By the summertime, I was on to my next prospective fling. Years after that, I would hop from person to person (unbeknownst to me at the time). I was kinda shocked by how quickly I had got over everything, but the new guy was dark like me, played football at a high school near my train stop, and fine enough to move my attention elsewhere.