Each time I come home I feel thankful that I was never so desirable to the male population in high school to have the unpleasant pleasure of trying to squeeze into my childhood bed with a boy. Even though I spent practically every night of my adolescence wishing that there was someone else under the covers with me, I now see that what I then believed to be misfortune actually made for many a good night’s sleep. I can’t imagine sharing my tiny twin with anyone, let alone someone I’d want to look good for in the morning. Those twin XL beds in college were bad enough: after all, how many mornings did I wake up pressed against the cinder block wall while a hulk of a baseball player hogged all but my small sliver of mattress?
I love being home. I love that my mom does my laundry for me, and that the refrigerator is always fully stocked, and that there’s no danger of running out of toilet paper because my roommates and I forgot to buy more the last time we went to the market. But there’s also something odd about being back in a neighborhood filled with the sites of my former pining. The guy who gave me my first kiss lives (or used to) only a few blocks away. I’ll never pass his street without remembering that this is the very place where I swapped spit with someone after so many years of waiting and wondering when it would happen. There’s the Starbucks where I went on my first date, the playground where I used to chase my kindergarten crush, and the hot neighbor dad who I totally thought wanted me when I was seventeen.
There are also the dozens of notebooks where I’ve faithfully recorded my romantic interests and pursuits since age eight, selections of which I will now reproduce for your entertainment. In second grade, I was enthralled with “Jared” (all names have been changed).
I used to not be friends with Jared I was just thinking he was cute. But now we have started a friendship. P.S. Jared is still cute. I wonder if he is the one who I will marry.
It is almost summer. Me and Jared plan to call each other.
It is summer now. I plan to call Jared tonight.
At this point in my journal I entered the third grade and abandoned Jared—who knows what happened on that phone call—in favor of another boy, Aidan.
Aidan is so cute and I mean “really” cute. I fall head over heels for him. I’m not sure this one is a crush. Aidan is really my kind of guy. He gets in trouble a lot but he is so so nice.
Hair: Dirty blonde.
Face: Cute, non-freckel, smiles a lot. [While my inability to spell “freckled” concerns me, my concurrent knowledge that “a lot” is two words kind of makes up for it. –Ed.]
Skin: Fair white.
Good Parts: Likes sports, is nice, tells jokes.
Bad Parts: Gets in trouble.
I wish he would try harder at things.
A few pages later I had taped in the valentines Aidan gave me, store-bought ones with animals wearing sunglasses on them. One says “You are a cool cat,” and the other “You are a hot dog.”
It’s funny how little things change. I haven’t gotten a paper valentine from a guy since elementary school, but I still meticulously record text message exchanges in my journal, I still find myself making the first move a lot of the time (like calling Jared), and I still end up dating dudes who are wrong for me (“I wish he would try harder”? I didn’t know at nine years old that this would be just the first of many, many times I would say these words).
It’s kind of depressing that I haven’t made much progress over a decade later.
Then again, it also makes me really glad. Is it weird that I’ve always been so obsessed with finding the right guy? Maybe. But I’ve been lucky enough to grow up surrounded by happy couples who have modeled love at its deepest, strongest, most honest. My greatest hope is to find a love like the one my parents have, like the one my grandparents have (they met when my grandmother was 16 and my grandfather was 20, and have been together for over 60 years). I have seen firsthand that love like this exists, that it is not only something that happens in books or movies. In short, I’ve been brought up to be boy crazy.
I know, I know, I’m getting a little sentimental, so I’ll leave it at that. It must be something in the water here. But, er (one more!)—there’s no place like home.