Once upon a time, many moons ago, a girl sat cross-legged on her bedroom floor, cradling a cordless phone in her lap and trying very hard to work up the nerve to dial. Finally, with a deep breath, she steeled her resolve and punched in the number.
Girl: Hello, [Boy]?
Girl: Hey, it's [Girl]. (Pause.) You know who I am, right?
Boy: Yeah, of course I do.
Girl: Um, Okay, So... I was just wondering... Wouldyougooutwithme?
Girl: (Pause.) Really?
Boy: Yes, really.
Girl: Cool. (Pause.) So, ummm... watcha up to?
The hard part over, they talked for hours. They talked about music, TV, books, school. They had no classes together but made plans to meet at the library during study halls when school was back in session. She learned that the boy had actually asked her out (via a friend, naturally) months before, but she'd said no, because she'd had him confused with someone else.
It was Christmas Eve, 1993, and later that night the girl wrote giddily in her diary that she'd already given herself the best Christmas present she could ask for--a boyfriend.
They had declared themselves, they were a couple. Only then did they go about the task of getting to know each other. As it turns out, they were well-suited, and young love blossomed. It was four months before they even kissed. Five months before their first fight, break-up, and reunion. By Middle School standards, their 7 month relationship was practically a marriage; and when it ended (with no shortage of drama, as young relationships invariably do), she licked her wounds for a little while, then brushed herself off and moved on. The thing had run its course.
It's a simple story, I know, but when I look back on it that's what strikes me the most: simplicity.
The other day I was talking to The English Ex about our respective dating difficulties and he asked "Was it always this hard?" To which I could only reply, "No. It wasn't."
I miss the simplicity of being able to say, "Hey, I like you. If you like me too we should be a couple. Wanna try?" and saving all the worry over whether or not it's a good idea for a later date. Unfortunately, as a woman now officially in her 30s, saying that to any guy before even going on a single date would surely send him screaming in the opposite direction faster than you can say "Wedding Registry."
But that doesn't mean I don't want to do it.
Of course, I'm thinking about The Guy here, but I'm thinking about that Boy too. We barely knew each other. Hell, I didn't even realized he'd already asked me out, because I had his last name confused with someone else's! All I knew is that I thought he was cute and I got all jittery when I ran into him in the nurse's office one day (I had poison ivy, he was icing a sprained ankle)... and we were together for practically an eternity, from an adolescent standpoint. So how did we know? How did we know that we would actually get along, be good for each other, have anything in common? Was it some sort of crazy, relationship sixth sense? Or just blind luck?
I wish I knew, because I get the same feeling around The Guy... only magnified, and muddled by years of experience, of both the positive and negative variety.
I barely know him, though I do actually know his last name. I just know that I like him, I feel good when he's around, and when he's in the same space I want to be close to him.
So why can't I make that leap? Why can't I gather the nerve to simply say "Hey, let's go out sometime. Like now, for instance?" Why was my 13 year old self so much braver than my 30 year old self?
Perhaps it's because my 13 year old self had yet to feel the sting of real rejection. Rejection is like a poison ivy allergy--something else with which I am acutely familiar. Over time, the body's allergic reaction to poison ivy intensifies rather than diminishes, so that each subsequent exposure causes a more violent reaction until you're like me, and a simple brush with those three leaves from Hell means a trip to the doctor and lots of steroids. I think I react to rejection the same way. As time goes on and I experience it more and more, even the little rejections feel like earthquakes in my psyche.
Like I said, I barely know The Guy... but I have a feeling that if he shot me down, I would take it hard. Very hard. And doing a show together means I'll be seeing him fairly regularly for the next month or so, making it very difficult for me to lick my wounds and move on, as my 13 year old self would have done.
Granted I feel that I already made my intentions perfectly clear when I kissed him, but he is a guy, he could have just chalked that up to my being drunk. A kiss doesn't carry the same weight at 30 as it did at 13, which is a pity really, as it's still an infinitely enjoyable way to pass the time. Or maybe he's having the same, ridiculous inner monologue that I am, and we should both just get the hell over it and see what happens.
I have no way of knowing what he's thinking, what will happen, or what I will eventually do. For the moment I'm still stuck on my bedroom floor, staring at the wall and searching for the courage to dial.