The Way We Weren't

Love, Self

The other night, I had a wonderfully romantic dream about my high
school crush.  Though I haven’t thought of the boy in years, he’s
always been the one infatuation I’ve regretted not having a chance to
explore.  Back then, he was popular, studly, too cute for my ugly
duckling high school self.  For two long, rather ridiculous years, he
was the light of my life, the fire of my loins, the name scribbled on
the inside of my locker.

In the dream, we were at a reunion, where Crush lamented not having
had his act together enough to see how special I was back in school and
thus, become mine forever.  I woke up in one of those dizzyingly
rapturous post-dream spells where, despite everything good awaiting you
in real life, you only want to go back to sleep.  Already, I’d been
having dreams of ex-boyfriends and now here I was dreaming about my
very first gut-wrenching love.  Obviously, my subconscious had
something to tell me.

The next morning, I eagerly fired up Facebook to do a search, and
wouldn’t you know, up came Crush’s name.  As the page loaded, I was as
nervous as I’d been when the two of us were partnered up in an English
class reading of Hamlet.  What if our destinies were about to become enmeshed?

At first I didn’t recognize the somewhat handsome, though mostly
chubby, grey-haired papa bear in the profile pic.  Where was the
serpentine smirk that used to make me go gaga, the lustful twinkle in
the eye that made all the girls go gooey?  Maybe this old guy was my
Crush’s uncle.

But alas, ‘twas he, the Jake Ryan of my Sixteen Candles-esque
high school fantasies.  How odd to see a person jump in your
imagination from seventeen to near middle age.  What a disconcerting
way to be reminded of the passage of time.

Equally odd was the life my crush had built for himself.  He was an
accountant.  He and his family were living in some weird town in
Texas.  He was a raging Conservative.

Strange ‘cause this was a guy who dated foreign exchange students
and girls from the other side of the racial divide, he was one of the
first kids in our school to dig hip hop, he was popular because he was
gorgeous but also because he was ahead of all kinds of cultural curves.

Crush looked happy and I hope he is, yet I still kinda wondered what
happened.  Mostly, I regretted ever feeling so lousy for not having
made it fully onto his radar.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in touch with many of my exes and
though I admire their lives, I’m glad I’m not in them.  I would never
want to live in a weird town in Texas and attend Tea Party rallies,
just as I’m glad things never worked out with my ex in the clink now
for shady ties to the mob.  Boy, was that a close one.

Knowing I’ve dodged a bullet would make the whole mourning process
easier.  Not because my exes lives are terrible, quite the contrary;
but because knowing we were on different paths makes the breakup a good
and right outcome.  I know full well my exes probably check out
Facebook and thank their lucky stars they didn’t end up with that goofy
writer who spent her twenties gallivanting around Europe rather than
paying a mortgage.

So I hereby make the following request to, let’s say, Google: would
you guys mind making some kind of application in which one could
project ten or twenty years into the future to see what kind of person
a current, prospective or ex partner becomes?  That way, the poor girl
who goes unnoticed by the jock in study hall, the husband who gets
dumped by his wife, the crazy-in-love gal whose man suddenly asks for
an open relationship, can stop agonizing.

People say ‘everything happens for a reason’ when a relationship
goes sour, but we all know that’s a load.  Imagine how much better
you’d feel if in the midst of a breakup, a quick Google search could
assure you, ‘no worries.  In ten years, he’ll be living in a trailer
park in Kansas.’

**Reprinted from Laura K. Warrell's blog Tart&Soul at