I’ve been lonely since the first day of 8th grade in 2004. That was the day I was alerted to the biological fact that there was more to this life than reading the next Star Wars novel, no matter how great it was. That was the day I realized material things weren’t going to truly satisfy me for the rest of my life.
The first day of 8th grade was when I first saw her. A girl named Cassie Williams. Before the moment I first laid eyes on her, during Mr. Whitehead’s Career Orientation class at Mary Frances George Junior High, I could not have cared less about a specific member of the opposite sex.
But then I did.
For the next three years I pined over one girl. I was gifted with actual chances to start something with her. This included my best friends voting for me as the Queen on the junior high homecoming court and a friend adjacent sending her a note asking her to the same dance in my name without my knowledge.
She said yes to me in front of all my friends at lunch one day. It was a moment both unbelievably exhilarating and catastrophically embarrassing. I’m pretty sure I was informed of her presence standing behind me at our lunch table after I claimed one of my fantasies was having to attend school with only her after a freak cold outbreak.
When you’re 15, or any age, always make sure your crush is not in the vicinity when revealing such silly, yet confidential information.
At some point the dance happened. We danced once, maybe twice. I remember her making eyes at some other guy.
Sometime before this, twice actually, she asked me outright “who I liked” in an obvious ploy to pry that it was her out of me. I avoided telling the truth because other people were present.
That’s my excuse anyway.
Once high school started I fell in and out of infatuation other girls, getting close to the brink of establishing a “relationship” at least twice. One girl, Cayce Cossey, after a couple of weeks of texting back and forth and an evening spent at Sonic, the mall and driving around Fayetteville, Ark., actually posted on Facebook, “I can’t stop thinking about him.”
The chicken that I was only spoke to her in person once after that.
Then there was the two summers following high school graduation that I spent hanging out with Elizabeth. We met while working the concessions stands at Arvest Ballpark.
It was with her I finally established an actual friendship with a woman. The second summer following my freshman year of college, on my first day of work at the ballpark, I remember seeing her exiting a door onto the stadium concourse.
She saw me, I saw her.
To this day no one has ever ran and hugged me as enthusiastically as she did that afternoon.
She was hospitalized following an incident involving breaking up with her boyfriend and painkillers. I’ve only successfully talked to her once via Facebook since then.
I miss her.
I don’t know if I loved her, but those summers were my favorite.
In my freshman year of college, on Valentine’s Day of all days, I had my first kiss with a girl. Her name was Allison; it was a mask themed cast party (I was a theatre major at the time). It only happened because I brought my Darth Vader mask.
If I have “game,” it manifested itself that night for a one-time performance. I messaged her on Facebook twice in the following days (once about Star Wars) and never heard from her again.
I had many crushes in my undergraduate years; some meant more than others. Specifically with Maria. I’ve never felt more comfortable with myself than when I was around her. I could be 100 percent myself without any reservations. For a while I thought I’d never meet another person who had the effect on me.
Somedays I still think that.
But she’s engaged to another man and expecting a child.
Meanwhile I’ve only been on two “official” dates, coming in the summer of 2012. We had dinner at Mexican restaurant and saw the midnight showing of “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
She texted me that it was too “awkward.”
Now here are. It’s 2014. I’m three days removed from turning 23 and we are fours days shy of Valentine’s Day.
You can say what you want about it being a commercialized day of romance created by the greeting card business or whoever and hyped by countless romantic comedies. Or it’s the day people break up with their significant other right before, just to avoid the trouble of having to buy a gift.
But it’s a day I believe in wholeheartedly. I want the trouble.
It’s the one day I always experience from the outside, but envy those that get to embrace all of its trappings.
I’m only in this position because of my own choices. Choices that have nurtured an empty feeling in my chest. A feeling irritated with every picture on Facebook of an engagement or wedding. A feeling that causes me to cry at least twice during a season of “How I Met Your Mother” because it just gets me dang it.
It’s a feeling that annoyingly reminds me I am my own worst enemy. I’m in my head too much. I put women on an unnecessary pedestal.
I’ve heard it all. I’m almost to the point where I’ve accepted that this action figure didn’t come with the ability to navigate the dating pool.
When the time does come and I find myself in something resembling a relationship, I’ll probably have no idea how I got there. But I’m not there yet.