We all need to make our own mistakes.
This summer, I got involved with a boy I knew would be trouble from the very start. (Cue Taylor Swift.)
The word “boy” is very appropriate because he was much younger than me. Not unreasonably so, but enough that it made a difference.
I was ready to run away at first. I freaked out when I realized how big the age gap was. But it was partly his youth that made the whole thing fun. He was unapologetic about liking me. About telling me. About asking me out on a date. About silly innuendos and hours of texting and finding the right emoticon to make me melt.
Most of all, he made me laugh.
The first time I met him, I hardly noticed him. He wasn’t my type at all, and I didn’t give him so much as a second thought.
Then he said something funny, and all of a sudden he became the brightest light in my dark, long summer.
I was addicted to everything about our non-relationship. The constant texting, the attention, knowing the sight of me in a certain shirt drove him crazy, and how the future sizzled with possibilities. No one else had ever made me feel that way before.
The things he liked about me were all things I’d come to believe were my own undoing when it came to boys. My curves. My accent. My silly innuendos. My love of texting.
The more I gave him, the more he seemed to want me.
It all came to a screeching halt when I asked him out to dinner, still giddy from our first official date night, and he declined my invitation because he was “seeing someone else.”
I wanted to cry. Here was this miraculous, fun boy who liked me for who I was and really wanted me, and of course there was someone else.
I wish that the worst part had been that he wasn’t honest with me. He texted me as if his ex-girlfriend hadn’t waltzed back into his life, and he only came clean when I asked him out on a second date.
In all honesty, the worst part should have been that I kept on texting him long after I knew he had a girlfriend. His attention doubled after he realized how unhappy I was with the situation. I told him I didn’t do second best (oh how badly I wanted to believe the words I told him out of desperation to protect myself), and I think he wanted me all the more for it.
No, the worst part is that I didn’t want it to end. I was so addicted to our clandestine relationship (or lack thereof), that the thought of it stopping altogether was unbearable. I was consumed by the possibilities I’d seen in the way he looked at me and the thousands of texts we’d exchanged, and I couldn’t let go.
I hoped for the impossible even when I knew it was never, ever going to happen.
I’ve never been good at letting go.
He stopped texting eventually. I like to think he gave up chasing me because he was so in love with his now-girlfriend-again, he couldn’t spare a minute to think of me. But if I’m honest with myself, I think he got bored. I wanted him, but not if he wasn’t single, and he wasn’t willing to do all the chasing. I think he expected me to win him over, as if his turning down my dinner offer should have made me fall in love with him somehow. The truth is, I never understood what he wanted from me, and I never had the courage to ask the most important question of all.
If he was serious enough about this girl to turn down something as simple as dinner with me, why did he spend his days and nights seeking my attention?
We’ve gone past the point where I could ask this question now. I don’t want him to see me as the girl who couldn’t get over a few weeks worth of texting and one single date night — even if I am. So I’ve had to find other ways to move on. I try and remember the good parts: the giddiness, the rush of crushing on someone who liked me back, the way the future opened up right in front of me, and the idea that someone could want me as much as I wanted them.
I know I’m over it now because I look at him and wonder why I wanted this so much. He’s too young and skinny and he’s the wrong guy for me in so many ways.
I’m not mad anymore. I know there will be more boys, more joy, desire and laughter. Soon enough, he’ll become white noise in the background of my awkward romantic history.
Oh, and also? He has no idea how good he had it.