First Love

[Editor’s note: this was first published in Thoughts from Dean on April 25, 2008.]

High school, they say, is the most enjoyable part of the education process. Well, if acne, armpit odor, newfound pubic hair, and insecurity appeal to you. Of course, we’ve all encountered this precarious stage. For me to be able to blog about it as I’m actually going through the process is exhilarating (as weird as that may sound).

High school is also where most people meet their first love. Many will argue that they met theirs in elementary. I maintain that love is improbable to find in those younger days. You’re too immature to differentiate infatuation and love, and too stupid to make a move. High school–which coincides with the onset of adolescence–means the development of your adult emotions. Your libido stirs. Suddenly the bathroom is more than a place for pooping and showering. You become explorative in many ways.

You fall in love.

That is every person’s tragedy.

It seems funny that I’m writing this. I’ve never had much luck with love, and have vowed to keep away from it (although my efforts have so far been less than successful). Nevertheless, here I am, in the darkness of my room, typing on Windows Live Writer as my neighbor’s radio is playing, tuned into Love Radio.

How cliche.

I can safely say that I got my first taste of love in my freshman year. There was this girl, my classmate, a timid chubby woman who liked me. At first, I paid her no attention. She was just another one of my classmates who I wasn’t really close to. We started text messaging each other, and it was always small talk. Did I eat my dinner yet, she’d ask. Yeah, I’d reply, how about you? She’d reply yes, too, and then ask if I did my homework. The conversations never touched anywhere near the topic of love, and I was fine with that.

In school, I slowly became attracted to her  (even though I’d told myself before that she wasn’t my type). It was her timorousness that appealed to me. She would always duck her head a bit and giggle silently whenever she thought of something humorous. Every day, when we would meet, she’d always say Hi to me in a passive but cute way.

With my sense of love still not fully bloomed at that time, I succumbed to her timidity. Soon, she occupied my thoughts. I bought a notebook which I assigned to be my diary, but it ended up being a sort of confession book about what I felt about her. I couldn’t muster the courage to tell her straight up that I liked her, so I poured all of my emotions into that notebook. That little notebook I covered with bond paper and plastic wrap. On the front, in Arial Black, the words “CONFESSIONS OF A DELUSIONAL WEIRDO”.

She herself kept a journal which she affectionately called “Blue”. Little did I know that she was writing all the stuff I was. One day, I made her an offer. “Look, I’ll let you read my journal if you let me read yours.”

With her face tomato-red (as was mine), she agreed, and we swapped journals.

Here I was, walking with her towards school, reading her journal, reading everything she thought about me, while she was doing the same thing. Two of our friends (who knew what was going on between us) were walking with us, as well, and they were bursting with delight at what was transpiring.

It was on that day that I told a girl I loved her when I knew I really meant it.

So, we’d become acquainted with the fact that we had this mutual feeling for one another. Now, in other countries, this would’ve meant we were automatically boyfriend and girlfriend. But here where I live, that didn’t hold true.

I should’ve courted her, but I didn’t, although with all sincerity, I thought she would’ve said yes in a heartbeat if I did. We exchanged I Love You’s several times over text messaging (mostly while our Math teacher was explaining this particularly confusing equation), but there was nothing beyond that. No stolen smacks on the lips. No secretive hugs. Just a bunch of “I Luv U” texts, maybe a few knowing glances at each other, and nothing else.

She called me on the phone one night and asked, “Are we in an official relationship?”

I seriously wet myself a little at that. A little. This was a big step for me. I hadn’t had a girlfriend before. Ever. I was that guy in class who, despite his decent looks, couldn’t get a goat to say “Yes” to his proposal even if he was wearing a tuxedo made out of grass. And now, this girl I liked and who liked me as well was asking me if we were in a full-fledged relationship.

I made what was possibly both the smartest and the dumbest decision I’ve ever taken in my 13 years of existence. I answered her question with, “Do you think we’re in a relationship?”

“I don’t know,” was all she said.

“I’m not deciding. You decide. You’re the girl,” I argued, and then added, “So, is it a deal or no deal?”

She replied in a whisper, “DEAL.” She said it in such a low voice that I could only just hear her breathe the words.

“What?” I said, unsure if I heard her right.

“DEAL,” she repeated, in the same low voice.

“Are you sure?” I said. I made it sound more like, “Uh-oh. Wrong answer.”

She said she wasn’t wholly sure, and I encouraged her to think really long and hard about it. I don’t regret telling her that, because I knew that if I made it official right then and there, I would soon regret it and break both our hearts.

We had to break the awkward conversation (I forgot why). The next day at school, we pretended like the phone call never happened, although for the rest of the day, and of the week, and of the month, the question really stuck with me: were we in a relationship?

I was never sane enough to answer that. But now, I guess I’m going to answer it once and for all. You could say that we had a special relationship, but the term “boyfriend and girlfriend” wouldn’t be the right one to describe it. We sure felt like we could take our friendship to a whole ‘nother level. At least, I did.

For some reason, I lost that love I felt for her, and life moved on. Still, even these days, more than a year after I fell in love with her, I still pause and ask myself, “If I said yes to her question, what would have happened?”

It seems weird to think about it now. I’ve had at least three crushes after her, and I was even seriously thinking about courting two of them. (The only thing that hindered me from courting the third one was her immaturity. I’m not going to expound.) Still, I won’t ever forget about that first love.

That chubby, timid woman whose aura appealed to me, whose dimply face once made my day, whose cute giggle made me all warm and fuzzy inside. That first love I will always cherish. Not because I choose to, but because love has this uncanny way of never letting me forget things.

Earlier in this write-up, I said that when people fall in love for the first time, it is their tragedy. I guess I’ll have to correct myself. In the time I spent spontaneously forming this article, I realized finally that love and pain come in one package. Pain equals learning. The scars may look gross, but the knowledge we gain is never a downside.

I will rephrase what I said earlier about love and tragedy.

It is in high school that people fall in love. It is a manifestation of emotional maturity, proof that we are ready to handle things greater than crushes and admiration.

It is in high school that people fall in love.

It is not a tragedy, but a coming of age, which might seem painful in the immediate aftermath, but is ultimately a stunning experience.

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