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37: Trying to remember what it was like to fall in love and be in love with someone (Part 1 of 2)
Nine years of age. A boy with dark ginger hair and freckles called you pretty and told you he had a crush on you. You were immediately “in love” with him, or at least smitten by him. You were only children then, and you were aware of those “relationships” adults had. You were only trying to replicate the “relationships” of the adults. Some months later, you found out he was “cheating” on you and had told another girl that he had “feelings” for her. You remember being absolutely crushed, devastated, crestfallen. The boy with dark ginger hair and freckles doesn’t count as your first love. You remembered being depressed every day for a while. It was only when he left the school at the end of the year that you could finally learn to be happy again.
Ten years of age. A boy of exotic heritage caught your eye. Apparently he had had a crush on your best friend at the time. You were instantly besotted with him. Perhaps it was his intense, green eyes, or the way he showed you a lot of affection and only had eyes for you the whole time. You broke it off because you were afraid your mother would find out and punish you. It was so close to the selective test (only one year prior). It lasted three weeks.
Eleven years of age. A boy of Chinese heritage and sky-high intelligence in the grade above you walked into your classroom and began to teach your class about the new learning management system online. His voice sparked something within you. His smile was infectious; his wits were impeccable. You spoke to him more and more often. Eventually both of you had confessed your “feelings” for each other. You both caught the same bus home in the afternoons (except your mother was there to accompany you home, so you couldn’t really do much). It lasted a few months before he broke it off (you can’t remember the reason. Perhaps you were too incompetent for him). Just kidding, you remember. He didn’t want the relationship between you two to be broadcasted to the public at school. Nevertheless, you had a big mouth and you were too expressive of what was going on in your life. It was on and off for a while until it officially stopped in August, close to his birthday. You haven’t spoken to him since 2013.
Eleven years and seven months of age. A boy of Chinese heritage and few words but great knowledge of chess and technology (and in the grade above you) began to speak to you online. You never really spoke all that much in real life. You can’t really remember much of your online conversations, nor can you look them up because MSN doesn’t exist anymore. One or the other confessed, which in turn prompted the other to confess as well. You remember seeing him at school occasionally, and then rushing home afterwards just to jump online and talk to him. You wish you could remember what you both talked about. It must have been a lot about school though. It was ongoing until mid-2012. Strangely enough, while you were in a “relationship” with this one, you began to develop feelings for another.
Twelve years and shy of six months of age. You asked a boy of New Zealand-Malaysian heritage and status of class clown and most hated in school to dance because you knew none of the other boys in your class would ask you to dance. Strangely enough, he sort of readily agreed. You didn’t really think much of it back then. Rejection or exclusion wasn’t much of a choice back then. After three dances, you were in love. You can say that you were in love, because the feelings you had for him were like no other. He was on your mind constantly. You laughed at all of his jokes, no matter how poor in quality they were. He was the first person you looked for when you arrived at school. You watched him play numerous handball games. You watched him in class. You were so in love with him (even though you were also in love with your MSN chat buddy from the grade above. No, you were literally in a “relationship” with him and still you were in love with another. Screwed up.). You kept a diary during this time. You’d always be comparing these two. They were very similar in their interests, skills and passions. You were utterly confused. You remember seeing a quote of Johnny Depp’s, “If you fall in love with two people, choose the second, because if you were really in love with the first, you wouldn’t have fallen in love with the second.” It gave insight into your “problem”. Nevertheless, you kept up your “relationship”, but also your crush on the boy in your class.
Twelve years and eight months of age. It was the last day of primary school. You’ll remember this day forever because it was December 16, 2011, and you were crying your eyes out in the last half hour of school. You were looking for him, your eyes wet with tears, your heart full of childish sorrow and longing. He found you instead, and you threw yourself into his arms. You found yourself desperately memorising the sound of his voice, the way his face looked, and you found yourself trying so hard to hold onto memories of being in class with him (you don’t remember his stupid jokes anymore). You kissed him on the cheek three times. He kissed you on the cheek once. His mother was there, but you didn’t care. All you cared about was being with him one last time because you knew there was a chance you’d never see him again even though both of you were going to respectable selective high schools which happened to be sibling schools. You wrote in your diary that you were his girlfriend from December 16, 2011 onwards, but as your current sixteen-years-and-seven-months-of-age self, you don’t remember this happening at all. You kissed the boy and still you were keeping up your “relationship” with the other. You may or may not have told him about your feelings for the boy in your class, but you don’t remember. He wasn’t angry. He was something else. He was fine with it. Perhaps, perhaps not. You will never know, and you’re okay with that.
(At some point between twelve years and fourteen years of age, he promised he’d ask you to be his girlfriend in year 10.
You’re still waiting. [I just thought it would be interesting to slot it in here.])
Thirteen years and one month of age exactly. It was Sunday May 27 2012, and you were on your way to English tutoring. You said something which made him mad. Was it on Facebook or MSN, you don’t remember. You began to have a heated argument with him. He didn’t want to talk to you anymore. He broke it off with you (quite violently, I’ll add, because the words he used were violent in meaning and I will never get over how angry he sounded over the Internet). You felt nothing on the bus ride. You were dead inside. You never cried over the fact that he had broken up with you. You felt regret because you knew he was a great guy. Afterwards, however, you felt renewed and free because it meant you had a chance with the boy who was in your class at primary school. You wished the boy a happy birthday because coincidentally, that day, it was his birthday.
It was a turbulent year. You were still desperately in love with him, yet he did not seem to return your feelings in the same way. You cried over him in your sleep late at night. You wrote short and sad stories on your phone, which are now lost forever since your phone broke and died. You were so in love with him, still. You waited at the train station for half an hour two or three times a week in the hopes you’d see him and be able to talk to him. Several times you got on the boys’ bus and just stood next to him, basking in his incredible shadow, exchanging less than intelligent words with him. You could feel the boys all around you give you curious or judgmental looks, but you were so in love with him that they did not bother you at all. After a while, you realised that he went on an alternate route to school just to avoid you. You stopped waiting at the train station for him, although at times when your bus passed the station, you would always be on the edge of your seat, your eyes searching the crowd for the boy with the pale skin and the prominent cheeks. Of course he was never there and a while after that, you stopped looking out the window for him.
Fourteen years of age. You found out he had a role in the joint school musical between your schools. For a time you must have been the happiest girl in the world because it meant you could talk to him in real life. You were so happy. You were still in love. You found out when and where the rehearsals were held, and so began the regular meetings with the boy you had been in love with since the end of primary school. You exchanged hearty conversation. To a certain degree, there had been some flirting. He was very tall now and his voice had deepened significantly. He had braces, just like you. Somehow these regular meetings made you fall harder for him. Once you were late home because you were so busy spending time with him and just talking to him. You made your mother worried about you, so much that she even dared to make a comment about your grades at school (your worst grades were in year 8, just letting you know). Once he rode the bus with you home, because rehearsals were cancelled and he didn’t hear about it. You asked him to get off at the interchange because you were afraid he wouldn’t be able to get home in time. Your stop was five or six stops after that. But he said one thing that will stick with you forever.
“No, I’ll go all the way.”
You’re inappropriate and sick. Well, you were, and you still are, but that’s what you were thinking when he said that. Of course, he didn’t mean it like that and you knew that, but still, you thought about the “other” meaning. He probably doesn’t remember it now, but you’ll always remember it.
You wrote a list of things you wanted to do for him. There are 47 things on the list, as far as your memory allows you to recall. You only remember what number 25 was. You wanted to give him your first kiss. You told him about this list. He’d always ask you about what number 25 entailed because you’d dropped hints that number 25 was “big” and “hard to do”. Eventually you showed him the list. He never asked you about number 25 ever again, although it did come up in small talk sometimes, but always as a way of flirting, you guess.
He had a rehearsal close to his birthday. You got up incredibly early that day and made him your favourite dish, pasta. You cooked a lot of it; you had enough to feed yourself, your two close friends and him. He still has that fork you let him borrow. It was the most pleasant of your high school days, you suppose. You were able to make him a fantastic birthday present. You were going to kiss him, too. You were going to give him your first kiss, but you saw your friends spying on you, and that changed your mind instantly. Although, before he did go, you managed to get in a hug, and that was fine by you.
You attended the musical on a Saturday night in June. You were feeling hot and bothered when he made eye contact with you several times during the performance. You nearly swooned when you heard him have his own solo part, even if it was just for a few seconds. The performance made you feel many things: anger, sadness, sorrow, yearning, melancholia, love and so much more. The musical was the one thing that made you fall even more in love with him. However, after the musical was over, there were no more rehearsals, and naturally he had no more reason to come to your school. And so, that signified the end of the regular meetings between you two, and ended anything that could’ve progressed into something else. Once again, you were depressed.
You wrote a novel about your fantasies, which involved both you and him. It was disgusting. You deleted it. You never finished the novel anyway.
Fifteen years of age. It was the best year of your life so far. You had few downs and many ups. You did not see much of him this year. In fact, you only saw him two or three times the whole year through arranged meetings. You were slowly falling out of love with him. You began to “wake up”. You had a mediocre crush on someone in your tutoring class, but it didn’t last. You’re best friends with the guy now – you can’t really see him as more than a best friend. Besides, he has eyes for another. You wouldn’t interfere. Anyway, yes, you didn’t see him as more than a friend at the time. Nothing really happened when you were fifteen. You were more focused on your studies then.
Fifteen years and ten months of age. He asked you to formal, and you honestly felt that you could rekindle things with him. You talked intermittently through Facebook.
Sixteen years and two months of age. A boy with long hair and glasses began to show up to some of your basketball trainings and would train by himself off-court. When your first coaches left you, he took up responsibilities as the new coach. You spoke to him online once from midnight to four o’clock in the morning. You obtained his number. You spoke to him quite regularly until you found out that he was also speaking to other girls in the team, namely her, the one you so despise. It made you feel uncomfortable and no longer special. It made you fall all the harder for him. It virtually shattered you when you realised he was unable to reciprocate your feelings. You never cried over him though. You were quite in love with him. You picked up the same interests he had and invested some time into making them your own interests. Eventually over time both you and he changed, from exchanging intellectual banter to rarely any words at all. Your notebook mentioned him many times, even though it did not mention his name. You were, for a brief period of time, considering giving up your first kiss to him. You did not, of course. As the months wore on, you fell out of love with him. You still have very minor feelings for him, but they are always instantly crushed and destroyed by other things on your mind. Both of you have not exchanged words for at least two weeks. Life changes, life goes on, and everything happens for a reason. You know that you were not meant to be together after all and it’s only just now that you’re starting to recognise and accept that.
Sixteen years and four months of age. You were a Trivia Crack addict. You played the game as often as you could, when you had data. Four months into being sixteen, the boy you had the longest “relationship” with popped up with a challenge. You forget whether you or he won. He eventually popped up on Facebook and began to talk to you again. He asked how you were, what you were going to study in year 11, and weirdly enough, he asked if you still liked him. You said you didn’t know because it had been a long time since you had seen him. He was stubborn; he did not accept that as an answer. Eventually you had to face the truth. You still did harbour some feelings towards him. He counts as your first real love and like they always say, you’ll always have feelings for your first love. You told him so, and he gave you a smiley face. You asked the same question as well, and he said relatively the same thing. You kept up conversation with him for a few months (until recently).
It wasn’t an arranged meeting. You saw him, and you were unable to approach him. You barely recognised him. Was he taller? You used to be taller than him. He gave you an empty look. It was not filled with love at all. Later, he told you that you had changed, and it wasn’t a good change. He said it was like you were expecting something from him every time you talked. He barely recognised you. You barely recognised him. Any hopes you had for rekindling the ashes of your past relationship were snuffed out like a flame. You saw him for the asshole he was, and you stopped talking to him. He asked you a question recently, but you answered curtly and left him alone again. You don’t want to interfere with his HSC, after all.
And now? Sixteen years and seven months of age. Devoid of emotion, empty inside, not remembering the rush of nerves and tingles whenever someone I was in love with was around. I don’t remember any of it at all. Sixteen years and seven months of age, I am convinced that I am incapable of love. Of course, I shouldn’t be letting a few bad relationships change my outlook on love, but honestly, that’s how teenage angst goes.
So I’m trying to remember what it was like to fall in love with someone and be in love with that same person, and I can only see tainted memories of my past selves’ naivety, innocence and happiness. Like in a lone movie theatre, I can see my memories playing out on the big screen. My past self looks so happy, so in love, feeling all those rushes of emotions that a person in love would feel. She looks happy when she’s around the boys she’s fallen in love with, but she looks so depressed and broken in her bed by herself. It’s as if I can no longer relate. I can only look in on a past world I used to be part of and can no longer be part of again due to my experiences.
It must have been a beautiful thing, to fall in love with the people that I’ve just talked about. Even so, I still believe that from the first encounter, I was always trying to replicate what my parents had when they were young.
Needless to say, I’ve utterly failed myself in doing so and I’ve built walls so high even I cannot climb over them. I see boys, I talk to boys, but I don’t fall in love anymore. The concept is so foreign to me that when I see couples holding hands, kissing or hugging, I don’t even know how to react. I just look away. I don’t understand it. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to understand.
Maybe it’s because I’m living in a world where as teenagers we have fun first before settling down and getting serious, but I’m skipping the fun part and going straight to being serious. That’s the only explanation I’ve come up with.
And even though I don’t think I can fall in love with anyone right now or for a while, my darkest fear is still falling in love with someone who doesn’t love me, and marrying someone for convenience rather than for love.
Edit: 11.46 am
The song fits the mood.