Monday, March 25, 2013

How First Love Can Screw You Up Forever

You always remember your first love. It will forever change your world when you have that ‘aha’ moment and realize, “So this is what everyone is talking about.” Or, to quote someone named “Condescending Wonka” on Twitter, it’s similar to the way you feel when you see a waiter appearing with your food.

I met my first love Hale at age thirteen. It was love at first sight, in fact. I wanted to know everything about him. When we spoke, I felt like I had known him forever. He felt like home.

He was short and adorable with blond hair and blue eyes. I remember watching him and wondering what he was thinking about and whether he would notice me. I tried thinking of ways to talk to him or run into him in the hallway. Thankfully, we had art class together. Our friendship started when he pulled my chair back and stole my scrunchie out of my hair. Yes, I wore scrunchies in middle school.

He had a girlfriend, of course, and her name was Britney. She was beautiful and in the popular clique. Britney had long, straight, light-brown hair, a contrast to my dark, frizzy mane. (One guy very nicely told me that my bangs looked like peach fuzz). I would study what she wore, what she ate, and how she talked. She had a pair of Timberland boots, so I went out and bought a pair of Timberland boots. How sick is that?

Britney and Hale broke up right before turkey day, right before the big, middle-school dance. I’m not sure when I grew balls, but I asked Hale to go to the dance with me. What made me mad was when he told me he wasn’t sure he was going, but if he did, he would go with me. I became even more mad when he did go...with another girl.

Somehow, at the tender age of thirteen, I managed to make it through the night without shedding a single tear. I believe I told Hale to go fuck himself, which was the first time I had ever dropped the F-bomb, but at least I didn’t cry. Well, I didn’t cry until I got home. Then I cried a LOT. Hero by Mariah Carey played the entire weekend. To this day I hate that song along with Thanksgiving, which is sad because it really is a joyous holiday. At the time, however, it was like, "Yeah, I am really thankful for falling in love with an asshole."

Part of me dreaded seeing him in art class the following Monday morning. The other part of me couldn’t wait to see him. I had a dream that I went to art class and his chair was empty. Sure enough, on Monday morning Hale was absent, which is why I believe I am psychic.


Hale ended up apologizing and we somehow managed to resume a friendship for the rest of the year. I suffered through his numerous girlfriends, always wondering why, why, why can’t it be me?

That summer, Hale left for sleep-away camp and I wrote him a letter. I sometimes wish I was a guy because seriously, I have the biggest balls. I asked Hale if he ever liked me as more than a friend, even if it were deep down in his toes. Hale wrote back and told me that he "liked" me now, but not to get too excited because he "liked" someone else too. Yes, he actually wrote that. Still, I was elated. It was
finally my turn. I didn’t know who the other girl was, but I was confident he would choose me.

He didn’t.

When they broke up about a month later, I asked him to be my boyfriend. Balls, balls, balls! I asked him on a date in the middle school style, which was to have my friend ask him out for me in a note. A few days later, he gave his answer. No.

Are you feeling sorry for me yet? Is this not the saddest, most pathetic thing ever?

In spite of his repeated rejections, I still held a purpose in his life. Hale was afraid to stay home by himself at night and when left alone, he would call yours truly. We would talk for hours about nothing in particular. Once, we discussed the movie I was watching. (Hello Again with Shelly Long. You know the one where she chokes on a chicken ball, dies, and comes back to life? Oh, you haven’t seen it? Shocker).

At one point, I read him the phonebook and we made fun of people’s last names. How could he not fall in love with someone who stays on the phone for hours reading a phone book because he’s a pussy?

I still had hope that things would work out for Hale and I when he told me he would be at my Bat Mitzvah party. It didn’t matter that he was missing the service in favor of going skiing, because in my opinion, the party was all that mattered.

I was able to recite my haftorah portion without feeling nervous. Thankfully, I didn’t see him until after I finished my haftorah. I was so surprised that I smacked him in the face with the Torah. Oopsies.

At the party, Hale presented me with a memory glass that he made. It was in a Ralphie’s Diner cup. Ralphie’s Diner was "our restaurant" because I saw him there once. Inside, he had melted candles and placed objects representing all of our inside jokes. He wrote a poem for me and read it in front of all my family and friends. To this day, that was one of the sweetest things a guy has ever done for me and I still have it tucked away in a box containing my special things. He danced with me the entire night. Although nothing came of it, he made my Bat Mitzvah special, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Hale and I never dated. In fact, we never even kissed. In high school we drifted apart and once we left for college, I barely ever saw him. It makes me sad to think that the first boy who meant something to me isn’t still in my life, because above everything else, we were friends and I thought we’d be friends for a long time.

Hale became a chef, which is what he always wanted to do. It’s nice to see him living out his dream. His job has moved him around the country. For a brief period he lived in New York City and ran into my sister. She always thought of him as my crush with big teeth, and he always thought of her as my little sister. But ten years later, they went on a date. Not gonna lie, even after so much time had passed, the idea of the two of them together was super weird for me. I knew I had no right to care. I was living in Los Angeles and having crazy flings of my own, but I cared. Although there weren’t any serious sparks flying, my sister had a nice time and hoped that he would call her again. He never did and I’d like to think it was because the situation was weird for him too.

Last year, I saw Hale at my ten-year, high school reunion. He’s still adorable and I completely regressed back to the thirteen-year-old girl who thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I‘m a completely different person now. I’ve lived in L.A., even dated celebrities, and had some crazy and surreal experiences. Hale’s a different person too. I really don’t know him anymore, but I still catch glimpses of the guy who turned my world upside down. He still gives me butterflies. Some things never change.

What I learned from Hale:

1. Thanksgiving and Mariah Carey songs can suck.
2. Don’t get too excited if the object of your affection likes someone else.
3. If you are ever browsing through Netflix, unsure of what to rent, under no circumstance should you choose “Hello Again.”
4. When the conversation stops flowing it’s probably best to hang up. Don’t read your crush the phone book.
5. Be careful when swinging a Torah.

What I REALLY learned from Hale:

First love is hard. When I think back to middle school, I am painfully reminded of how much of my young life this boy consumed. When Sheryl Crow sang The First Cut is the Deepest  she wasn’t kidding. My grandma always referred to him as “The Hale Storm.”

I think the whole Hale thing scarred me, to be honest. I’ve never allowed myself to love someone as much as I loved him because I never wanted to be hurt again. As I grew up, I kept guys at a distance. A therapist believed he is the reason that I’m more attracted to guys I don’t know very well as opposed to guys who I’m good friends with. I learned that at the young age of thirteen you can be capable of knowing what love is, because take it from me, you are definitely capable of knowing heartbreak.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story! I would like to add that I saw the movie Hello Again in the movie theaters and while it was not nearly as good as Troop Beverly HIlls, it's still a classic. They should remake it with amy adams.