Middle School Love: She Wants That Old Thing Back

It seems like with every relationship/datingship I’ve had with the exception of one or two, I’ve always had to take a step back and say, “It shouldn’t be this hard.” When you’re dealing with someone who you’re not meant to be with, you will always have to come to that realization, and then walk away. Not to say that lasting relationships with your soul-mate aren’t hard and don’t require work, but I’m a firm believer in kismet, and the idea that what will be will be. For me, the feeling of “It shouldn’t be this hard” usually comes when I start to over-analyze the small things to try and understand what he thinks or how he feels. I’ve learned that men sometimes aren’t the best communicators, and as women, we have to look for context clues to know what’s really going on from their perspective. I’m a ditz. I don’t pick up on clues very well, so I usually just end up walking away out of frustration and lack of communication from him. To me, it’s easier to just walk away than to try and convince myself that someone is interested or has certain feelings for me. Of course, this never plays out too well, and I usually end up having to go back, apologize, and find another alternative. Determining where to draw the line between protecting my own feelings and opening up to someone else is a pretty difficult task for me, and is probably the thing I struggle with the most. I remember a time when things were as black and white as I wish they could be today.

I got my very first boyfriend in the 7th grade at the I-know-everything-about-boys age of 12. Although our love lasted for about 2 weeks, it was pretty definitive. There were never any questions of how he felt about me, how much he liked me, if he still had feelings for his last girlfriend, nothing like that. I knew he liked me because he told me so. I knew he wanted to be with me because he asked me to be his girlfriend at lunch in front of all of our friends (we all had the same friends because with about 30% of the school made up of Blacks, everyone knew each other). I knew he wasn’t afraid to let the whole school know that we were together because he would hold my hand when we walked to class, and he’d carry my backpack. He always made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world even though we dated during my awkward stage of dadolescence. The stage where I was learning to pluck my eyebrows and looked like I was constantly excited and yet depressed all at the same time. The stage where I had two little thimbles poking out of my shirt where my breasts would one day reside. The stage where I was the tallest, skinniest Black girl with braces and stood out of the student body like a hooker in church. At lunch, all of the boys would play basketball, and all of the girls would stand around the court and watch the boys play. When the bell rang for us to go our seperate ways, he would kiss me good-bye and hand me a love letter that he wrote in the period before lunch. At the winter dance, we danced to Case, Aaliyah, and Blackstreet, and knew that we’d always be together. He bought my soda, told me I was pretty, and when I told him that he smelled good, he told me that he wore his Michael Jordan cologne because he knew I liked it. We were in love. For the life of me, I still can’t remember why we broke up. Not that it matters, because he ended up dating one of my friends a few weeks later. But of course I didn’t care, because I was so over him.

Somewhere between 1997 and 2010, things got complicated. Dating got complicated. The letters stopped coming, the compliments were fewer and further between, and nothing was ever as certain or absolute. Now I’d be a complete fool to compare any of my adult relationships to my 7th grade love, but it makes me question how people go through life from one extreme and land at the other end of the spectrum. At what point does it become difficult to tell someone you have feelings for them or want to be with them forever, or that you wore her favorite cologne to make her smile? When did dating and relationships and love become a never-ending guessing game, where emotional inhibitions lead to failed relationships and going out on a limb will almost always result in a fall? The better question is how do we get that old thing back? When is it ok to show someone you love them without wondering what the reaction will be? When won’t it matter if you throw rocks at her bedroom window just for the opportunity to tell her how you feel? Why won’t she just go all in, balls to the wall without throwing caution to the wind? When do we go from “It shouldn’t be this hard” to “Is it really this easy?”

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