Crush Boy was the first boy who ever broke my heart, though he never knew it at the time — that revelation would come many, many years later, of course. I choose the words carefully here so as to soften the blow for myself because, frankly, the breakup was never a clean one. We never had ‘the talk’ in which we do all the things a healthy couple should do in the midst of the breakup battle: divide friends, sort through personal mementos and promise each other that, no matter what, we’ll always be friends.
Instead, all the perfect ingredients for the modern, unhealthy split were there: denial (that “Yes,” I told my friends and family. “I was so over him and his smug existence.”), fear (that gripping terror of chills that woke me up at 3 a.m. shivering from night sweats) and the self-doubt (that “OMG, he’s so hot that maybe I actually could learn to get past everything else.”). I found it pretty easy to shake off the fear and self-doubt, but it was the denial that hung on like a painful hang nail.
I didn’t want to say goodbye. Not really, anyway.
I honestly think there are many of you out there. And if you’re one of us — the girl who sits dooey-eyed gazing out her window like Judy Garland’s character in Meet Me In St. Louis — here’s the most important piece of advice I can offer: It’s okay to fall head-fast and hard for the guy. It’s okay to daydream and fantasize about your future white wedding. It’s okay to wear your heart on your sleeve like a security blanket. It’s even okay — maybe even noble? — to love from afar, too. It’s okay and human because I’ve been that girl. I’ve lived, loved and lost only to live, love and lose all over again in what feels to me like a lifetime, but in reality is only a decade to the rest of the universe.
Back then, I wanted someone who I could kiss at sunset on a balmy summer night, who would hold an umbrella to shield me from the sheets of rain, someone who, even after two decades, could still give me butterflies and who, at the mere mention of his name, could still make me giggle like a school girl. But over the years, part of me grew up. Lying in bed at night, in the dark where I kept my most private secrets, I eventually admitted the once unmentionable to myself. What grand revelation came to me over the years in that bed? Was it the moment I looked in the large mirror in my bathroom and smiled instead of glared away? The joy I felt when I brazenly declared, “I’m beautiful” and instinctively knew this was the first really genuine declaration I’d made to myself in my entire life? The time I could finally take off the metaphorical mask I’d been showing the world and finally be who I am?
Or did I not truly ‘get it’ until I saw Crush Boy walking to one of his law classes and didn’t feel that creak of my heart breaking? I’d wanted his love for so long, but it wasn’t really about him in the end. Not really. I’m sure that, yes, he did play a part in my new happiness. But it wasn’t because I now sported a speckled diamond ring that foretold my future better than a crystal ball. I read somewhere that in every girl’s life, there’s the boy she’ll never forget and the summer where it all began. In the end, I suppose Crush Boy gave me something more important than he’ll ever know.
[Photos via We Heart It]