There came a time in my life when I felt the desperate need for romance. I wanted companionship and love very desperately, having never experienced such things before. It took some emotional maturity for me to arrive at this conclusion and I was a junior in high school at the time. Before that idea hit me, I had always imagined it would be nice to have a girlfriend, but I never acted upon that thought. I was too shy and too protective of my inner thoughts to put myself out there. However, for the first time in my life I felt like I needed someone to hug and hold close, or my life would be miserable. In retrospect, my expression of these desires came in the form of a crush that I never would have had otherwise. I simply flung all my pent-up feelings at her with reckless abandon.
I honestly had never had a serious crush before in my life. It’s easy for me to look at several girls and start listing things I find physically attractive, but I liked everything about Jessica at the time. Her personality, her shoulder length hair that was so well-kept, her intelligence, and her smile almost killed me inside. Ironically I remember sitting in my room and thinking about how badly I needed a girlfriend. I was surrounded by a whole swath of people who were constantly dating. Well here I was with no one showing interest in me and I thought that was the result of me showing obvious signs of not having entered the dating world. I literally started mentally scanning through the girls I knew. One rather arrogant idea I had in my head was that I was too mature for girls my age. All of high school I had taken the majority of my classes with students a year older than me. Naturally I had the most contact with them; those girls had even started striking up friendly conversations with me that year. So I believed if I were to “acquire” a girlfriend, she would belong to the senior class. My search soon ended at Jessica.
That moment sealed the deal, I was in some sort of constant infatuated state. The night that my search ended I couldn’t sleep. I would lie on my bed with a goofy grin on my face, my mind racing too fast to possibly fall asleep. My thoughts were always focused on how perfect she was and how I needed to ask her out because I knew she would be a perfect match for me. I’m a pretty introverted person, but this says something about the basic instinct since within a month I convinced myself that I would have to ask Jessica out. Instead of fear I felt joy. The agony of waiting and suffering from sleep deprivation were taking too much of a toll on me. I knew this would have to end and without hesitation I decided it would be so. In my mind the only answer I could possibly get is “yes I would love to go on a date with you”, so what did I have to lose?
Jessica and I had two classes together that year. A law class that met at the second to last period and another class for the school newspaper that met every other day. I remember walking with her to the editing room where all the writers for the paper would meet. I got to my computer and did my usual surfing on NBA.com since articles were due infrequently and I had already written mine for this issue. My heart was pounding, I got sweaty and I got really nervous as the end of class approached. However I was still determined to go through with this, there was no way I was going to go back to sleepless nights and wistful thinking from afar. My heart was literally hammering away inside my chest as the rest of the writers walked out of the room. The only people left in the room were Mr. Palini ,who advised the newspaper, and Jessica.
I got out of my chair and started walking towards her. “Hey Jessica, I have a question for you”
“Yeah, what is it?” she replied, without even turning away from her computer.
“What’s your favorite kind of food?” My voice took on this fake enthusiastic air that only comes when I’m around someone I find attractive. It’s so fake it makes me sick.
“Uhmm, I don’t know really” She giggled a bit and kept typing away.
“Well uh I was wondering…if you would like to join me for lunch this Saturday” There I did it. This was my moment.
“Ummm….uhh, let me think about that and I’ll let you know”
I was unbelievably happy. There was no way she was going to say no to me. She just needed some time to think things over. As I sat atop my bed that night, I couldn’t sleep out of sheer excitement. I messaged her on Facebook real quick, just to stew in my own triumph. We talked for a tiny bit, mostly exchanging greetings, before she abruptly said she had a lot of work and needed to go. That was all good in my eyes because any day now Jessica would let me know that she was more than eager to go on that date with me. I laid down on the bed and came up with a genius plan. I definitely needed to ask her the next day if she had an answer for me. If I wasn’t going to be assertive how would she ever actually give me an answer? She was already going to say yes, I just needed to seal the deal.
I was sitting in law class the next day. Jessica’s friend Lauren whispered something to her briefly and I heard Lauren giggle, but I thought nothing of it. Class dragged on forever as Mr. Li went on about how murdering people gets you sent to jail, but I had bigger plans. I wore a watch every day for a reason; I got to count away the seconds while I was bored without having to turn around and look at the inconveniently placed clock on the back wall. I remember checking my watch very frequently that day. I was determined to get an answer today and I had gym instead of the newspaper class. So this was the last time I would see Jessica for the day. Well my opportunity arrived when class ended after what seemed like an eternity. I got up with such uncharacteristic courage and approached her desk as she was leaving.
“Yeah?” She was walking towards the door with her group of friends.
“Do you have an answer for me” To this day I can’t believe I asked this question when I did. Her entire friend group was with her, they were all within five feet of me.
“I’m actually really busy with college applications right now and I just don’t have time to date. I’m sorry” She gave me a look of true sadness and regret that moment. I stared into her eyes and knew she hadn’t wanted to say no to my face, but my eagerness gave her no choice. She actually had no intention of saying yes.
“Ok, that’s cool” My ears turned red and I walked off towards the gym. The disappointment must have been obvious by the tone of my voice. I was too hurt and surprised not to show it.
I tried to rationalize this reaction away with every excuse in the book. Maybe she was too busy with college to have time for me. Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough. Days, weeks, a month passed with no visible sign of change. She stopped talking to me and went about her day with a stony look in her eyes. For some reason she seemed very hurt and I didn’t know why. Then out of desperation I turned to the wishful thought that one day she would simply change her mind. It was too much for me to simply give up my dream that one day she would be my girlfriend. However, even given my reckless infatuated state I was not without a heart. I saw Jessica was suffering. She wasn’t smiling anymore, regardless of not taking to me she didn’t talk much at all, and I could sniff out the sadness from across the hallway. It really hit me when I was simply walking down by the library and she hopped back a tiny bit when she noticed me passing her by in the empty corridor.
I messaged her again saying I didn’t mean to hurt her and I still wanted to be friends. She replied that she wanted to be friends. Nothing changed. The same stony look still remained. Finally around winter break I sent her a rather lengthy and desperate Facebook message. I told her that I genuinely cared about her and I was only expressing those feelings because I just couldn’t help myself. On top of all of that I didn’t want to see her in such a sad state as a result of my actions. That somehow struck a note with her as she had doubted my actions were genuine and she seemed relived. When I returned to school after break, she even said hi to me after break. There was still hope for us after all, she said hi to me.
There was an upcoming night of poetry and music at our school. I had auditioned a compilation of two piano pieces by Burgmuller and made the cut. She was going to be reciting poetry. I remember sitting back down in the performer’s section after finishing up as the opening act. Soon after, Jessica recited her poem. She brought forth a tale of two lovers who couldn’t be together at this time, it was just not their time. My ears perked up and I must have had the goofiest grin at that moment of realization. “She’s talking about me!”, I exclaimed to myself. I congratulated her after the event and quickly hurried home to my computer. I wrote her a lengthy letter which contained the phrase “I’m so proud of you. I knew this poem was about us and that’s alright. I knew it wasn’t the right time, but I’m glad you were able to get it off your chest.”
“It wasn’t about you”, came the blunt reply.
“Oh, I’m such an idiot”, I literally smacked myself in the face. Then two sentences later proceeded to ask her if the poem really wasn’t about me because I was in such utter disbelief. After all that was through and I settled down, she gave me some good advice.
“Take it easy and just relax. It’s high school.” She had finally gotten over the hump and maybe I could too.
To this day I almost can’t believe I summoned the courage to actually ask a girl out. I guess my instinct got the better of me that time and there was no holding back. Now having come out of a four year relationship I can give a lot of perspective on this situation and the feeling of being alone. I thought Jessica was something to be had, a girlfriend was something to be claimed. My thoughts were so selfish in that I concerned myself with only what I wanted and how I felt. I asked Jessica out because I couldn’t take the desperate sleepless nights anymore. She probably felt sad out of low self-confidence and the belief that I had asked her out on some whimsical notion, that’s something I have debated with myself so many times even after all these years have passed, but that remains irrelevant to the main conclusion. You don’t just get a girlfriend. It’s not like buying clothes, there are responsibilities and complications that people put up with because they value being with you. I had no idea at the time that that was part of the definition of a relationship. So I would just like to offer up the advice that many times we find suitable partners by coincidence and forcing ourselves into relationship situations usually results from a desire to be in a relationship more than a desire for a particular person. This was definitely the case here because by the end of that following summer I quickly realized that I didn’t really like Jessica, I had just used her as the canvas upon which I released my pent-up desires.
As trivial as this moment may seem to some of you, it changed my life and sparked some depressed moments in years to come. I still get mild tremors when thinking about some of my foolish moments. I associate this with my inability at times to accept no for an answer and to accept my mistakes in general. Going back I wouldn’t have it any other way because this experience definitely set me up for being relationship material. You have to suffer a bit sometimes to receive the necessary change from what that is holding you back. I’m willing to pay that price and hopefully some day I will look back on this moment and not shudder out of embarrassment.
If you’re suffering from a crush, I’m here with you man. I don’t think it’s silly and I’m willing to listen. No one deserves the fate of suffering alone.