The first boy I would ever love I met when I was twelve years old. I had just begun junior high, and would watch him out of the corner of my eye during band rehearsal (trumpet, clarinet) and study hall. I would watch him like that for two years. Occasionally I lent him pencils. Every day of this pretty much vehemently sucked.
My locker was right next to another girl’s from our study hall, and one evening after an 8th grade school dance she bounded down the hallway and gave me the happy news that the two of them had just slow danced to the last song, and it was so romantic, and now, they were an item. I stuck my face into my locker. “That’s great!” I said, muffled in tin. “Congratulations.”
Thank god, high school was ahead. I rarely saw him through the next four years, and my diaries filled with other names, scrawled things, song lyrics, realized kisses.
When graduation rolled around, it was with tornado warnings. Our ceremony was relocated to the school gym. The smell of chlorine and old shoes was in the air; we sat patiently, sweating in polyester robes. After all of our names had been called and certificates handed out, we’d shuffled back to our folding chairs, and were asked to stand. I hereby present to you, the class of 2001! and suddenly struck with some kind of John Cusack necessity, I darted out of my row, raced one hundred and fifty people up, where he was standing, and I poked him importantly on the shoulder. Black hats were soaring into the air like flattened crows, everything was floating, tornados were possible. “I just need to tell you,” I said, “you were the first person I ever had a crush on — and it went on pretty much forever.”
He looked over at me and smiled the most wonderful smile. It’s what had gotten me in the first place, those two rows of amazing teeth, brightlipped. Thud, thud, thud, went the hats. Everyone was cheering, 2001! “Why didn’t you tell me before?” he said simply, tilting his head.
I smiled goofily and shrugged.
The last boy I broke up with, I largely consider to have ruined at least one year of my life. At least. That is the time we were dating, and of course does not take into account the painful emails after the breakup, or the perfectly benign text message six months later, which nearly inspired extreme violence toward its poor messenger (Samsung, recently replaced under warranty due to water damage), or the year of therapy following, or the various ways in which I am insane now.
I broke up with him over the phone, at a friend’s house, because we lived three hours away from each other and I didn’t have a car, and because he had just accused me, again, of cheating on him with said friend. Any male friendship or interaction I had at the time was extremely suspect, for reasons I could never divine. It got aggravating after a while. So we broke up and my friend’s mom ran a bath for me and I sat and cried in it for five hours and the next morning I woke up the happiest I’d been in a long time.
The last time I saw him was about three years ago. I was visiting our college campus to see my new boyfriend. I was drunk, and my head was bleeding (rolled in tube down hill, stopped by trees, knee into forehead).
I didn’t actually see him at all, technically; we were standing in a dirt parking lot, and I recognized his headlights. I knew his car by heart — all shiny new and blood red, with its completely silent sunroof and bright oval eyes. I saw that he was slowly coming towards me. I backed up in horror, ran up a flight of stairs, grabbed a doorknob and flung myself into a dark room, then immediately blocked the door with my body, clinging to the nearby window frames. I had entered some dorm laundry room. The machines were shaking.
“Adrianne?” my new boyfriend called from the parking lot. “Uh, where’d you go?”
I’ll grant you that I wasn’t myself at the time; twenty minutes earlier I’d hit my head so hard the whole world had filled with bright light. Alcohol obviously hadn’t ameliorated this. I stayed very, very quiet, holding that door shut until my fingers turned white.
A while ago, on a more personal blog, I wrote something about recurring ex-love dreams and how they had been haunting me, how I would apologize over and over in the dream to no effect. For a week or so it went: I cycled through nearly everyone I’d ever kissed, and learned how disappointed they were in me, how nothing I could say would ever fix some hurt I’d caused.
But last night, I dreamt about the first boy I really liked. We were older, and dressed up for some ritzy soiree; it was snowing inside, snowflakes floating down from the ceiling ten stories away like doves. He took my hand and led me through a model city, sparkling with lights; I looked up at one point and he was gone, and I spread my arms to the ceiling.
The night before, I dreamt about my ex-boyfriend. We were tentatively sitting down for a picnic. “You’re grimacing,” he said. “I don’t blame you. I’m really sorry.” “I am too,” I said, and suddenly I remembered everything wonderful in him. We just sat there, in the shade of a tree, until my alarm went off.
I feel like I don’t have a right to these feelings of tranquility. I am hijacking scenes from a movie and claiming them to be a part of my history, incorporating a Hollywood ending by will. I haven’t actually apologized. I haven’t actually forgiven. These conclusions are imaginary, and perfect; I hit snooze and demand the dream to begin where it left off, and for once it works: you and I are back under that tree, it is quiet and still here, I won’t be angry with you any more, everything is floating.