Saturday, January 02, 2010


Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them.
And when you're fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin round.
But in your life you'll do things greater than dating
The boy on the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen

Taylor Swift sang some teenage angst at me on the way home from reading today. I've heard this song before in passing but I usually change the channel. Today, I actually listened. I blame my friends for this...they've been razzing me recently (or, rather, intermittently for the last YEAR) about my first high school boyfriend. The recurring question, posed so often it's almost become a chant, is simply "why??" I gave it some thought.

My first actual "boyfriend" relationship lasted exactly one month in 6th grade. The 8th grade boy who ran the milkshake machine came up to me while I was working in the library (he was also on safety patrol and had hallway privileges) and asked me if I'd "go with him." I said yes. During our brief relationship we sat together in church...we went to a dance together...we saw each other while he was on safety patrol....he gave me killer milkshakes at lunch. He never kissed me. I broke up with him exactly one month after he'd asked me to go with him because I was a ridiculous girl with an overly dramatic tendency and thought it was "poignant" or something...

Fast forward to my sophomore year in high school (3 years later) and my interactions with the male of the species could be neatly sorted into two groups: those who were friends and those on whom I had a fairly obsessive crush.

Number of dates: 0.
Number of subsequent requests to "go with someone": 0.
Minutes spent in agony: 1,576,800.

By the start of sophomore year I was seriously beginning to think I was going to embody the "sweet 16 and never been kissed" mantra...and was convinced that I was, for reasons I couldn't quite pinpoint (except in too-frequent moments of hideous adolescent self-loathing), completely undesirable.

And then He took an interest. He was a year older than me and several inches taller (which was no small feat, given that I was just shy of 6' tall even then). He was talented and popular and handsome and confident (god, was he confident). He was in the band and that was the year I attended every home football game without fail. (Truthfully, it wasn't so much a school spirit thing as it was the fact that the senior boy who gave me a ride every week was absolutely awesome. I could have had a powerful crush on him too if I'd ever entertained the idea that he would in a million years deem me worthy. But that was too far-fetched a notion for me to I just enjoyed the chats in the car with him...and swooned a little in secret. But really all that's beside the point.)

I don't know when He started talking to me...or why (though he would tell me later that my height was the initial draw). I spent a lot of time in the band room before school with my friends (also band geeks) I know we saw each other there. At some point, I started sitting with the band at football games too. Then I was sitting with Him at football games. The details of what led up to the game-changing night are fuzzy now...but I remember when it shifted. We'd been chatting in between spirit songs that night. He gave me a quick kiss before he went down onto the field to march out...and said he'd see me afterward. I was shaking with some combination of cold, excitement, terror, and nervousness. After the game, in the alcove outside the bandroom, he pulled me in and kissed me. Had I had any time to think about it, I might have been too paralyzed by panic and neurotic-worrying for it to happen...but there was no time for rational thought. One minute he had my hand and the next he was kissing me.

After that, as if it were a foregone conclusion, we were dating. It was casual at first...then after he was in a wreck on the way to school, it got more serious. He gave me his senior ring. He introduced me to his mom (who actually liked me -- and she didn't really like anyone). He told me he loved me. He took me to prom. We gave each other ridiculous pet names and talked about our future. We took long drives and went to movies and shared ice cream. We dated through the middle of the following summer. And then, just before Band Camp his senior year, he dumped me. I forget the excuse he gave at the time, but really he dumped me because I wouldn't have sex with him...and there were more than enough girls who were going to be at Band Camp who would. He may well have been cheating on my prior to that...I don't really know.

I should have been outraged at how much of a jerk he was. I should have resolved to never speak to him again. I should have stood up for myself. I should have let go, good riddance'd, and moved on. I shouldn't have wasted one ounce of time or emotion on someone who was so selfishly callous.
I should have realized that the group of guys I called friends were far superior to him in every way. But I was fifteen and he was my first taste of love and I couldn't let go.

I didn't let go...not really...for an embarrassingly long time.

So the question I've been posed is why...why did I choose him? And see? That's the point: I didn't "choose" him. He chose me. At fifteen, I didn't know how to make a choice. At fifteen, I didn't know I even had the power to choose. At fifteen, I had no idea that it could work differently than it had worked the one time for me. For all my book-smarts and open heart...for whatever confidence I may have displayed on stage or with my friends...I had no idea who I was.

And, more importantly, I had no idea what I might be worth... fifteen.
When all you wanted was to be wanted

Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now

Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you

You're gonna believe them.

And when you're fifteen, don't forget to look before you fall

I've found time can heal most anything

And you just might find who you're supposed to be

I didn't know who I was supposed to be

At fifteen.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Ah, who really knows who they are at 15? 18? 21? 27? 41?

I remember feeling so many of the emotions you describe. I, too, had my first boyfriend (sort of) around that time. He dumped me while I was at Governor's Scholar (or right after) and lost his virginity to the next girl he "dated". Good riddance! I just wish girls like us had had more confidence in ourselves, our decisions, our strengths. Thank goodness we have embraced our humor and don't anguish nearly like we did at 15.

Now, to pass all of this wisdom on to The Monkey and my son (don't be a jerk to the ladies! you are more than the notches on your belt!) and my daughter (don't be a doormat! believe in yourself! you are phenomenal!).

I think the real lesson here is: stop listening to Taylor Swift!