We spent that summer being best friends. Chasing snakes. Smelling hydrangeas. Eating popsicles. He made me blush every time I saw him. We were destined to meet. I knew this as a child. It was love at first sight. People often say you never forget your first love. I’d have to agree. Little Tommy Shriner is embedded in my head.
My siblings took to torturing me as soon as they noticed. I couldn’t hide my blushing so I stopped denying it and went all out declaring my adoration. I’d shrug when they teased and eventually I told them all that we’d end up getting married someday. I claimed to have known him in heaven. My sister still tells me of the lame jokes I made up with no punch line but that I had crafted his name in it and then I’d laugh hysterically. I stumbled to speak sometimes around him and became awkwardly timid. Things that are not my natural behavior.
Apparently, not much is changed. Not too long ago I fell again hard. I froze in place and remember holding my breath after seeing him hoping to stop time until the flushing in my cheeks went away and I cooled down again. That night I slurred my words and stumbled on invisible cracks on the floor. I laughed too loud and couldn’t make any eye contact. I never stopped being awkward for a solid two hours. I left knowing I’d never see or hear from him again.
Having awkward crushes is not cute when you’re not four years old. Meeting and dating someone new is a torture no sibling can rival. But he did call after that first date. I can not figure out why. There I was; insane and scatterbrained, not recognizing myself in this “crush” state. It deluded my judgment. It made me get lost inside my head. I learned the term “ghosting” shortly after I waited for hours for him to return text messages. And I found myself not answering his calls even if I was doing nothing and the phone was in my hand. I switched from euphoric to feeling diseased within an instant. And then switched back again before I registered the change. It was nauseating. I had informed a few friends that he’d be trouble for me. And he was. I had to admit (at least to myself) that I had feelings. Not just good feelings, but feelings of any kind again. I had shut that kind of stuff down years ago. To stop myself from embarrassment I selected to be distant and then, of course, just run away from the whole situation. He still called. But I hesitated.
Falling for someone can be the greatest feeling. It raises all sorts of chemicals in our brain and gives a legitimate high. Love is a drug. But like all drugs, the withdrawls can make you mental.
Bring on the mental. It’s worth the high.