Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Non-boyfriend

When I was 15, I spent three weeks at an academic summer program for high school students. The program was really about allowing academically gifted students to socialize together, the idea being that they were probably isolated at their own high schools. I wasn't, but I loved the summer program and attended for four years. Age 15 was my third year, and it was the year I met Jason.

Jason and I met on the first day of camp, when I was wandering around the halls of the dorm, randomly introducing myself to people whose doors were open. I don't know if things are different when you're 15 or what, but I don't really remember a transition period. I remember meeting him, and I remember spending the rest of camp with him, but I don't remember how we got that way.

I do know that everyone at the entire camp thought we were going out. And I remember wondering why the hell we weren't. We were literally together whenever possible. The campus had these huge benches--although the word "bench" really doesn't do them justice. They were more like huge, painted wooden structures, highly elevated with lots of comfortable seats. There was one outside each dorm and they were the main hangout points during all free time. And we spent hours on ours.

We would just sit, for a long time, talking and poking each other and chatting with other people. Jason played the guitar and often he'd have it with him, just messing around, and sometimes other people would show up with their guitars and they would jam together. I had no musical talent but I loved to sit and listen.

There were dances every Saturday, and Jason and I spent them together, but not dancing. We usually spent them on that bench. One week during a dance I got up the courage to ask him who he thought the three prettiest girls at the camp were. He named two girls, both friends of ours, and then he paused.

I still remember the sideways glance he gave me, and the tight anticipation I felt while I waited for him to say something. And then he said, "And you," and for one of the very rare moments in my early teens, I felt exactly how I wanted to feel because I had heard exactly what I wanted to hear from the exactly right person.

There were other signs too, other moments where pleasant silences turned into awkward moments of maybe we should be kissing. But those were moments where that tense waiting didn't release into that euphoria of feeling exactly how we wanted to feel, because we were both too awkward, too shy or uncomfortable or something, to push through the awkwardness and just do it.

Really, I would have done it because I wasn't shy, really at all, not by then. Except that despite not being shy, I was massively insecure, and even though from this charmingly grownup, distanced perspective I now have, it is so, so obvious that he liked me as much as I liked him... well, at the time I wasn't sure.

I thought I had given him so many opportunities that if he liked me, he would have taken me up on them. I thought about all the times that someone had asked us if we were going out and he had vehemently denied it. Even though I was equally vehement in my denials, when it was him doing the denying, I thought it was proof of the one-sidedness of my feelings.

But when we were outside and it was cold, he gave me his soft flannel shirt to wear. He played Brown Eyed Girl to me on his guitar while we were sitting in the hallway of the dorm. He hugged me, touched me all the time. He told me I was the prettiest girl in the whole camp.

At the time, at 15, when I desperately wanted experience and desperately needed affirmation that somebody could like me, those things weren't enough. But now, looking back, they are.

42 comments:

  1. Aw young love, too cute.

    I know the benches you speak of.

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  2. Him giving you his flannel to wear is proof enough that he really liked you!! What a sweet story :)

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  3. I had the same sort of relationship with my college roommate - we were together, but not together, so I SO know how you're feeling on this.

    Adorable picture :)

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  4. Great story. I think we learn many of the important things about "true love" from relationships such as yours and Jason's. You don't always need physical intimacy to feel loved and fulfilled. Thanks for the reminder!

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  5. adorable! i wish i knew what these benches were, i have the funniest picture in my mind of them. do you still talk to your old friend?

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  6. i like this post so much! conjures so many memories of that age, though i didnt even TALK to boys until college so its not direct nostalgia.

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  7. awww.. that's really sweet.

    and man, I do NOT miss those angsty teenage years. Blech.

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  8. aaaaaawwww... that is such a cute story.
    When I was 15 I had a brute of a boyfriend who a) pressured me into having (very short)sex with him, b)was constantly jealous and trying to control what I wore and c)ended up cheating on me with a 13 year old.
    Not such a cute story huh? More like a week in Bald and the Boring
    I prefer your story.

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  9. Omigod. So, so sweet.

    I love that photo - you both look so innocent and comfortable and delicious.

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  10. What a great post. I love this story. It is so sweet. The picutre is adorable and just from that is is pretty obvious that you two liked each other.

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  11. That is the sweetest story! Of course, this is how we learn how to get the love signals from boys (and how to seize the moment), right?

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  12. My first love was Jason, too. What a sweet picture and story.

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  13. That post was so tender and sweet. I think we've all been there. Sometimes, though, it's best to leave it exactly as it was - innocent and simple. A few years ago, I met up with the guy I had a similar situation with when I was 15. I found out that he had felt the same way, we laughed about it, and then ended up hooking up. It was an amazing, amazing experience. But it kind of dashed the innocence and simplicity of it all. That sweet, childlike bubble that I'd had us encapsulated in, suddenly burst.

    Good thing you have Torsten and don't run the risk of bursting you bubble :)

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  14. Oh, this just really got me:

    "I still remember the sideways glance he gave me, and the tight anticipation I felt while I waited for him to say something. And then he said, "And you," and for one of the very rare moments in my early teens, I felt exactly how I wanted to feel because I had heard exactly what I wanted to hear from the exactly right person."

    So sweet. And what a cute, uh, non-couple?

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  15. If you don't talk to him you should totally find him on facebook :-)

    I have a similar story and i've searched high and low for the guy on fbook, but his name is so common that I can't find him :-(

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  16. you totally took me back to my "camp" love. le sigh. memories.

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  17. So, so sweet. You really should track him down! Just even to be like, thanks for the flannel. And everything.

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  18. Hey, I had a couple of non-boyfriends, too! I always wonder what the story was on their side.

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  19. oh my GOSH i remember that feeling so well. my moment like that was my first kiss (at 17!!!) which i wanted sooo badly to happen, and i ended up in a perfect place for it, with the guy i was madly in love with.. then when he went for it, the moment was exactly what i'd hoped it would be.

    well, except that he nearly poked my tonsils out with his tongue on my first go, but WHATEVER. i still thought it was magical.

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  20. This is absolutely adorable. Thank you for sharing!

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  21. I had my first kiss at camp. I remember so clearly being so insecure and wanting desperately not to be. Oh, teenagers.

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  22. That is so sweet. Really, dripping in sweetness. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. This entry reminds me so much of being a teenager. Especially the part about the flannel.

    Aaaah, flannel.

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  24. to this day, i still like the smart ones the best!

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  25. I had the BIGGEST crush on an older boy at camp when I was 12. He gave me his flannel and carried me to the nurse's office when I cut my foot really badly at the river. I love that you have a picture of the two of you! I wish I had one of us.

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  26. That picture of you looks so similar to my best friend from college. It makes me miss her :(

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  27. I had a friendship/relationship like this when I was 15. Only he asked me and I screwed it up...and we were never friends again...so maybe it's better you didn't?!

    and how cute are you guys.

    ps: I'm new and yours is a great blog -thanks!

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  28. Aw, what a sweet story. and

    "At the time, at 15, when I desperately wanted experience and desperately needed affirmation that somebody could like me, those things weren't enough. But now, looking back, they are."
    beautiful.

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  29. This post gave me the warm fuzzies.

    I had months and months of this kind of flirtation during my senior year of high school. We'd jokingly address our emails to "the love of my life" and would pass notes in class that dealt facetiously with our future together. I can still remember exactly how I felt when I got an email from him that said, simply, "I know we joke around a lot, but sometimes I think I'm actually serious."

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  30. Oh that is too sweet. I too wonder if you have ever tried tracking him down?

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  31. Ooh, camp romances. I remember going to "Christian" camp and meeting a boy who I went back to see every year until I was 15. And had my first kiss with. And cried when I found out he wasn't a virgin but I was...oh to be a teenager again!

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  32. cute story :)

    and it's great how as we mature in our relationships we realize the things that are truly important.

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  33. Why is hindsight always like lasik?? I know exactly what you mean... I had a few different male friends in high school and college who could have been something more, who in retrospect I'm pretty sure liked me as much as I liked them, but I was too damn shy or insecure or inexperienced to know what to do about it. Sigh. Young (lack of) love...

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  34. I now you're happily on your way to be married now, but don't you wish you would have grabbed him and kissed him for dear life? I've been in those kinds of places, and my first thought is always...if only...

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  35. awww. my heart constricted a little. what a cute story!

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  36. It's weird. I'm not a teenager but Inow, right now I would love it if someone I liked said something so simple yet so perfect. I don't want to hear how pretty I am. I just want to hear the "I like you". That's it. Is that too much to ask?

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  37. That is a great story...young love is so precious.

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  38. GOD I LOVES ME SOME DU WAX LOOLU WRITING! You are the MASTER!

    Jamie

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  39. What a sweet story! Young love is so lovely and complicated.

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  40. Oh, so cute! That photo is priceless!

    Did you ever keep in touch with your non-boyfriend?

    (btw- hi! I am deplorably behind in my blog reading... but I'm getting there!!)

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