I was a terrible girlfriend
I had my first boyfriend when I was thirteen. He was tall, with blond, curly hair, starred in The Sound of Music, played on the football team, and was deeply religious. I was tall, with blond very straight hair, played on the soccer team, and refused to be in the musical because the director wouldn’t let a seventh-grader play Maria. Naturally, I was head over heels for him. I told myself I was ready to be in love, but in reality I was an introverted nerd who giggled and ran away when I sensed Andrew was ready to ask me out.
Middle school relationships required a lot more effort back in 2007 than they do today. There were far fewer ways to communicate. A few of my friends had cell phones, but my poor suitor had to either catch me at school or call my home phone and brave talking to my parents. That’s dedication.
The most exciting social event for a newly coupled middle schooler, aside from the very awkward and sweaty school dances, was Relay For Life because you were out with your friends - and significant other - all. night. long. Naturally, it was also very awkward and sweaty. Andrew and I had gotten no farther than a few tame hugs and some dedicated handholding, and this seemed like a prime opportunity to jaunt over to first base, if you catch my drift. But when a few of my female friends actually suggested out loud to the two of us that we should go off somewhere and kiss, however, an irrepressible panic had me blurting out “Ewww!”
That poor boy.
Thirteen-year-olds have enough to worry about without thinking that their girlfriends find the idea of kissing them repulsive. For some reason, he stuck with me for four months after that, most of which was summer break. I blamed my lack of a cell phone and my move to another school for the deterioration of our relationship, but I am sure it had much more to do with my obvious cues that I was in no way ready for a boyfriend.
Andrew dumped me after a football game, about a month into the start of a new school year at different schools. I, of course, had no idea it was coming. I wallowed, and pined, and generally made a fool out of myself for a few months. And I learned a lot. I learned that ice cream is not my sad food. I learned that romantic relationships, just like friendships, require effort and reciprocation. I learned that you should not write a desperate “I love you” e-mail to the guy who dumped you three months ago. And I learned that heartbreak is not the end of the world.
Andrew (if you ever see this), thank you for being my relationship training wheels, and thank you for forcing me to figure out how to be ok on my own. I owe you one.