“Yes,” you said to that first boy in middle school when he shuffled his feet,
Asked awkwardly if you would want to be his girlfriend before you even realized that girlfriend was a word that didn’t exactly mean the same as girl and friend when they were separate
“Yes,” again when that first boy is far gone and you can’t even remember much about him except for the fact that his mom picked you up and dropped you off at the bowling alley –
And it was weird and awkward because you can’t bowl and neither of you did anything but sit and stammer for an entire blacklit night
This second boy sits next to you in math, helps you with the drawn out streams of equations that run together and pool into an ocean of cosine tangent sine Pythagorean mess that he’s triangulated into some sort of sense
But yes #2 doesn’t last long because people tell you that you are two pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit together - and you believe them. Suddenly adding himself to yourself doesn’t equal happiness anymore, it equals ‘not right’ and you nod along and go with it –
He becomes “no” too and the fact that it took a lot longer for this positive to become a negative only means that it stings a little more BUT –
It’s alright, you tell yourself, because by this point you know, you know, you KNOW that Mr. Right is out there and he is waiting for you, a prince to take you on a date that doesn’t involve rental shoes and math tutoring.
You know because everyone has told you from the day that you were born that you will find love and you will be happy and you know because they wouldn’t lie to you ---
You can tell that they believe it too, that they dream of the day when someone will take their hand and lead them into a sunset and someway-somehow the birds will spell happily ever after in ribbons.
So – even if you don’t feel this way about the third boy and you can’t possibly imagine him in a castle not even as the cook or the butler or the stable boy or anything – you say “yes” because you want to fit in and it is no longer a matter of knowing that he is right but that he is there and he is available and all of you friends have one, too.
Third time is the charm and the longest of all but when all is said and done everyone says that there are plenty of fish in the sea and you stop and wonder if everyone else has poached all the good ones because where the heck are they?
Four is a “yes” because you are tired of hearing of the things you miss, of the late-night texts, the good-morning messages, the hand-holding, the sweatshirt-wearing, the cologne smelling, the date movies, the car rides, the corsages, the company, the company, THE COMPANY. You are lonely and you are surrounded by people who are surrounded by people and when four is gone and you are by yourself you realize something
You are out searching for love and you crave it but what you thought you knew - what everyone thought you knew - what they told you knew was never right
Because you are in love with the idea of love and you think you know love, because it feels like you should, and you had a hunch that number two would be okay but no one else did - and so you said no, and now are you left with the feeling that no one else seems to experience but they have to be dealing with it too, you can’t be the only one, you can’t be. You can’t be the only lonely one.
Love is not a happily ever after first sight experience. The likelihood of a fairytale ending the first time ‘round is one in a billion and you want it anyways and you crave that perfect someone that you’ve only ever seen in animated cartoons and on the printed texts of book pages that aren’t real but you want them to be
You imagine the way they fit together like constellations in a night sky and each star is beautiful as itself but together it is best but you know that you are not part of that figure because you are not blinded by the enculturated and beaten-down idea of love, so shoved down our throats from before we can walk that by the time we think we know what love is we really know nothing at all
You don’t realize that the way he pushes you when you make a bad joke, and the way he gets scared during horror movies before you do, and the way that his hair always has that funny curl in the back is what love really is because you are smothered with what everyone tells you what love is but ----
They have to know. Someone out there has got to know more that you do because when you think about it for more than ten seconds in the shower where all your deep thinking gets done you realize you know nothing ---
And neither does anyone else and we all regurgitate these ideas like baby birds being fed things by mothers, but no one knows where they come from and would you really accept food from a stranger? No ---
But yet and still we take these ideas and we make them such a part of ourselves and even when we know they are wrong – even when you know that the math geek was a good idea and that you fit like that favorite pair of jeans you have worn everywhere at least once – we don’t trust ourselves and all we can ever do is think these things but then squash them down and nod our heads and say