Not For the Faint of Heart

I loved a boy in high school. My family moved to a new town in the middle of my freshman year, and I saw him for the first time at the bus stop. I could see his house from my bedroom window. The worst night of my life was the night he took another girl to the homecoming. I cried as I listened to mournful love songs (they were “our” songs) and stared at his house for most of the night. When I finally did get to sleep, I woke often and thought of him with that girl. Then I’d get out of bed, look out my window at his house, and wonder if he was home yet.

I knew his phone number, address, license plate number (I still do) and his birthday (I’ve forgotten it). I knew he liked cross-country and track and math. He seemed quiet and a little shy, although I heard he could be arrogant. I think he had blue-green eyes. That’s all I knew about him.

I didn’t know what kind of music, books or movies he liked. I didn’t know what he was passionate about or what he could have cared less about. We only spoke a handful of times and I’m sure he didn’t know my name (if he did, he certainly didn’t know about the “e” at the end). He inhabited (or at least orbited) the center of my universe for my entire high school life, even though he graduated two years before I did. He broke my heart and the only thing he ever did to me was to not notice me.

I wonder about those days. In moments when time and maturity can put the past on ice,  I tell myself it was infatuation. But when I revisit it honestly, all of it, without the bandage of distance, I know it was much more than that shallow word infatuation. But I still don’t know if it can be called love.


First posted in 9/11


11 comments on “Not For the Faint of Heart

  1. Beautifully written. I feel the pain and longing of the teen you were. He was so close and yet so far. Was it love? I don’t know? Can you be in love and not have it returned? Can you love someone about which you know so little? I remember adults calling what I felt for certain “unreachable” boys “puppy love.” I was the puppy devoted to another creature who could never know me–the real me. He could only know my devotion. And I could never know him, only observe him and try to get his attention with my big eyes. I hated the term, but maybe it was accurate.


  2. I know it wasn’t true love. Puppy love does seem more accurate, but I hate the term too. It’s kind of degrading when you think about it.


  3. Yes that is beautifully written and a raw voyage into the world of unrequited love. I remember a girl of my youth, with whom I was similarly infatuated. I had a photograph of her smiling warmly at the camera, and it was just the kind of smile which could mend a young mans heart. It was never meant for me though, and I doubt she knew my name 😦


  4. I think we’ve all been there. I like the term “unrequited love” better than puppy-love 😉


  5. You should take solace in what I’ve been telling you for years: All the guys in your high school were dummies.


  6. High School infatuation is a powerful thing. Certain faces are burned into my memory – like ageless spirits.


  7. That’s another aspect of high school love I hadn’t considered. You don’t see the object of your affection growing old and screwing up. It always remains young and fresh.


  8. Yep, been there. Haven’t we all? And if by chance we do get to know the object of our infatuation, he usually doesn’t fill the shoes of the man we envisioned.

    Nice post!


  9. It really is a beautiful post. Why didn’t I think to do that. You come across as exceptionally gifted as a mother. The post is almost a story in itself, about her mother who passed on a love of words and their power to move people to her children. Top notch stuff 🙂


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