I met Sara in 7th grade. Yes, I was young. Please refrain from comments such as “You were too young and too immature to feel or even understand anything serious.” Trust me. Those thoughts are paddling throughout my own head. Besides, even if I was an idiotic teenager, I don’t want that to undermine the pain I’ve felt. I was an idiot. I am an idiot. But I still suffered.
So, maybe I should preface by saying that I have depression and social anxiety. While my condition may have been in its infantile stage back in middle school, it was very much a part of my life. Every now and then I would dip into bouts of sadness, which I would express to others only to hear awful advice urging me to simply be happy and simply be confident as if it were as easy as flipping a switch.
Unsure how to handle my unexplained sorrow, I searched for love the way many depressed individuals search for drugs. I searched desperately for a girl to idealize and fantasize about from afar until I fell in love all on my own. Due to my social anxiety, I rarely managed to approach a girl and so that artificial love stayed unrequited for quite some time. It didn’t do much to ease my pain, but it kept me distracted and it kept me hooked on hopes that one day I’d actually manage to attain a girlfriend, who would, of course, lead to the happily ever after. There were a few notable girls here and there, some even became girlfriends, but they belong to separate stories.
Despite nearly a half a foot of height between us, Sara found me cute and admired my humor and my intelligence. At least, that’s what I was told. Sara was even shier than myself and admittedly, not that great at expressing herself. Sorry Sara. Eh, why am I apologizing? This post is like a big “fuck you” anyways.
Worried by the height difference and immobilized by anxiety, I wavered between thoughts of dating her and thoughts of ending communication to avoid awkward comments about the man in the relationship being a good head taller. Or maybe I was worried that I was actually idealizing her and didn’t like her that much. Or maybe, regardless of all her friends told me, I still thought that I might get rejected.
Whatever the case, during one school vacation, I managed to ask her out…online (Shut up. Shut up. I hear your comments already). Since she was away, I didn’t get a response for quite some time. Meanwhile, I was at an acting camp. With Sara so distant, I managed to fall for someone else from a different school, who wouldn’t talk or see me for another year and at that time, wouldn’t even remember who I was. So by the time Sara responded to my shy, hesitant invitation to the movies, I wanted to call it all off. And I did.
The result? I stayed alone and pissed off Sara for the time being. The next year we went through a similar thing. We liked each other, but as soon as our relationship seemed to form, I wanted nothing to do with her. After pissing her off twice, maybe even a third time (I blocked out the memory of most of this so there might be a third time), it took a while to become friends with her again.
But we did become friends again. Time passed and now more firmly bedded in my depression, I looked to Sara for comfort. I can’t say why, especially since she was fairly robotic and shunned her emotions and desires in favor of education. Nonetheless, we became very close. She was still taller than me, but the closer we became, the less I cared, the more I wanted her. And there was no hesitation this time. I was sure of it. Sara was the smartest girl in school, had a sharp, pointed wit and long, shapely legs, and due to her robotic nature, she was a challenge.
I wanted her as much as any hopeless romantic at the age of 16 can. I wanted to hold her and stare into her deep, alluring, crystal blue eyes as poetic phrases bounced through my head, soon to squeeze out of the point of my pen into fourteen awkwardly joined lines (I loved to make sonnets at the time. My sense of sound was good, but I shudder to look at what I used to write). I wanted Sara all to myself.
Thus, when prom came around, I hinted heavily that I wanted to go with her and searched for responses. Specifically, I told her that if I were to go, I would want to go with someone romantically. She said she would only want to go with someone as a friend. I gave her my hint. She gave me hers. Of course, someone had to point it out to me that that was a hint. I immediately changed my mind and said I’d love to go with her…as a friend, of course. Sara got a little upset because I said I would never do that. We had to talk privately, in person (a terrifying thing for me), and work it out. We did.
Then, slowly, slowly, slowly I worked on her, flirted with her. I’d show her poems obviously about her. I’d compliment her. I’d talk with her every day. And I’d do small, miscellaneous things like during a group hangout, tell the man at the movie ticket booth that we were a couple, much to her embarrassment. Eventually, I wore her down, and at the suggestion of another friend, I asked her to see the Avengers with me, only me. Oh yes, how romantic!
During the movie I held her hand. She liked it, but she squirmed and fidgeted to try and find a comfortable spot for both our hands. “I’ve never done this before. Don’t judge me,” she said. I merely smiled.
From then on we went to the park together and to her house to play Rummikub. I always lost, but her presence was victory enough. We rarely hugged or held each other’s hand. But we worked together on a physics project and took frequent breaks to cuddle together. I remember that she used to sit there like an opossum, stiff and unmoving, unsure what to do.
One day I managed to kiss her in my basement, a very shabby and poorly decorated place. My parents still won’t renovate even though my mother seems to have the time to change all the colors in the house from off white to a slightly more off, off white. And would you believe it, when I kissed her, she said “Eep!” I kid you not. A “surprise,” she called it. A “good surprise.”
Eventually, things got more serious. By that, all you dirty-minded freaks are saying, “Aw yeah! You hit that boy!” No. No I did not. Please. I respected her and went as slow as needed for a girl who says “eep” when you kiss her. I merely mean that we grew closer and felt more intimate in each other’s company.
After finding a fairly isolated spot in the park, we had a picnic. I piggishly ate my sandwich so that we could get eating out of the way. Then, I cuddled up close to her and brought my lips to hers three times. On the third time, I attempted to give her a French kiss, but I was greeted with that all too familiar “eep!” Sara recoiled into my embrace and went silent. I suspected then that a large, scarlet blush spread across her cheeks.
Despite my failed attempt, I held her and stared out at the golden fields of tall grass, listening to the way they rustled in the wind, almost in time with my breath. I have never felt anything more pleasant in my life. All my stress and my depression was there, but I set it aside. In that moment, it didn’t belong to me. I was free. I never truly loved Sara, but all eeps aside, she showed me what love felt like.
Tempted by the elusive taste of her tongue, I remained persistent in my efforts, but I never got more physically intimate than that day.
Sara had a trip to the Dominican Republic, where she would build houses for charity. I think it was just a resume builder for colleges, but maybe I’m just bitter. She probably really enjoyed the charity. Whatever. We had one last date before she left. I planned to make my move once she dropped me off at home (she always insisted on driving me places), but my neighbor was talking to my father at the door, so I only managed to get an awkward kiss as her half-open lips tried to tell me not to kiss her.
That night we discussed what our ideal kiss would be like. I tried wooing her with my sweet words, but she turned my feelings a little bitter by saying she wanted to kiss me on the stairs, so that I was a step above and around the same height as her. I asked if my height bothered her. She told me it did. Well, at least she was honest.
And so she left, texting me once to calm her down in the airport as she worried about not making friends. I did what I could and she said that I always knew how to make her feel better. Then, soon enough, she was gone for a week without any wifi or service to contact me.
I wrote poems to cope with her absence and when she came back I shared them with her. She didn’t seem to like them too much, not that she openly insulted them. She just didn’t openly compliment them either. Maybe I came across too clingy. Probably. What’s more, she talked less. A simple “how’s it going?” took four hours to respond to. Sara was also too busy to see me for another five days. Supposedly, she was working on another project with a kid named Greg. He has little meaning to this story in particular, but damn I hate his guts.
When she did see me, we hung out at her place to play Rummikub again. Honestly, I knew something was up because I actually beat her this time. While we played, I touched her foot with mine and she made sure it never happened again. Was my foot too sweaty? Has she always hated footsie? Have I never noticed?
In the car, as she dropped me off, we kissed the most pitiful of kisses. Her lips never moved. She was tolerating the kiss as best she could, making sure to show no signs of enjoyment.
Torn between well-justified worries and shaky assertions that I was just being insecure, I tried to get her to talk more, but she was still busy. Eventually, at one in the morning, I demanded that we have a date at the park the next day. Well, I didn’t demand, but I hardly gave her a choice. Reluctantly, she agreed.
I should also mention that my grandmother passed away not long before that. She gave my family her car, which was a month past its inspection. We didn’t exactly feel comfortable driving it until we got the inspection. This date, which you probably already know was the last date, fell in between that awkward timing when we legally shouldn’t have been driving the car. My mom was home for the summer, but my brother had her car at the time, so we were in a pickle.
Normally, Sara would drive me, but she wasn’t exactly her usual self. My mom was angry about this date that came out of nowhere, though, so I made a deal with Sara. I would drive the car to the park, my mom would take it home to avoid keeping the car out in public, and then after the date, Sara would drive me home. Another red flag: when I asked Sara if this was okay, she said “Fine.” Guys, you know what I’m talking about. When a girl says fine, you’re in some deep shit.
Oh, also I had a cellphone, but it was an ugly track phone and as stingy as I am, I didn’t want to waste the minutes by actually using it. I planned to actually bring it to the date in case something bad happened (e.g. what did happen), but I said, “You know what? You’re being insecure. Leave it, Andrew. You won’t need it.” Andrew, you idiot.
During the date, Sara and I walked in the sunniest parts of the park. Odd. It was 92 degrees. Shade would’ve been more agreeable. Conversation was as tense as our first date, maybe worse. At one point, in an act of desperation, I pointed out a toy sailboat on the pond and suggested that Sara should have brought hers. Although she was the one who told me about her sailboat, she looked at me severely and said, “How do you know about that?”
Then, she brought me to a place where the path split. There was a path to the parking lot and path that led deeper into the park where all the kiosks were. She stopped me and said that things just weren’t working out. She told me it was her, not me, and then acknowledged how cliched that sounded. She also asked if we could stay friends. Eager to leave, I said yes, shook her hand, and faked a smile. Finally, she asked if I wanted a ride home now. I turned away and said I’d find my own way home.
Truly, her reason for our break up still leaves me baffled. I asked her best friend to further explain, but came no closer to closure. It all seemed so sudden to me. Before she left on her trip, there wasn’t the slightest hint of trouble. I say this looking back three years into the past. So my recollection is unbiased… but admittedly a little foggy. Eh, I’m an idiot. I’m sure it makes sense to you.
Of course, I had no phone, so I left in search of a phone. I found a maintenance guy. He directed me to a phone and then gave me some privacy. I called my mother to come pick me up. I called the home phone and her cellphone, each about five times. Nothing. The maintenance guy came back. “You good?” he asked.
“No, not really,” I said. Being polite as he dared, he asked why not. I told him I was dumped. He then laughed at me as if it was the funniest thing he had heard in a long while.
“Get used to it, kid. It’ll happen a lot more times.” As I stomped off, swear words bubbling up my throat, I heard him tell one of his buddies what happened to me.
I decided to walk home. It was 92 degrees out, I was wearing flip flops, and it was a 3 mile walk home on all the main roads. By the time I arrived home, my feet were raw and my head pounded from dehydration.
Later, that day and several days afterwards, I cried until my tears ran out and my body started to shiver. I succumbed to my depression and soon thought of death. My poetry became dark, angry, and stained with tears. A month or so afterwards I decided to write a novel based in part on the breakup. In part! I must stress this! The author is not always his main character and the plot is not always his life. But…that’s how Listlessly was born.
Flash forward to the start of my senior year in high school. Sara and I shared a physics class. One of my buddies was there as well. Knowing that I was still obsessed with her, he vowed to help us reconnect, something made possible by the fact our teacher made him and Sara lab partners. Yes, I was still obsessed. Despite all the pain I felt, she gave me a moment that, to this day, is still the most precious thing I have. Nearly all my affection for her has faded, but I would consider getting back together with her just to see if I could have another moment like that again.
Regardless, as I said, my buddy said he’d help me. He tried. My depression and my social anxiety feed off each other and my depression fed off the break up. I was awkward. Very awkward. Too awkward to even look her in the eyes. To be fair, she has strangely powerful eyes. But, needless to say, Sara and I could not reconnect.
Something else strained our relationship, if you can call a total lack of communication a relationship. My buddy, the one who said he’d help, had a crush on her. He attempted to tell me during a sleepover and I could instantly read on his face what it was he wanted to say. I told him I was not okay with him dating her, but come to find out, they already went on a date. Because he was an awesome friend and because my previous girlfriend was sloppy seconds and made me lose a friend, I acted like all was fine while I slowly died on the inside.
Sara and my friend broke up before going away to college, making their relationship several months longer than mine. I can’t imagine how far that relationship went in terms of intimacy, but I do know that they held hands in school, which was never allowed when I dated her. Okay fine. I’m obviously still a little bitter about it.
Oh, and even though the relationship didn’t hurt my friendship too badly, my friend ended up moving away. The last time we talked was probably around January. According to another friend, he is visiting in August, but I can’t help to feel that we’ve grown apart. Very sad. I’ve known him since first grade. His family was like my own.
But there’s the story. Congrats to anyone who actually read it. That was probably more for me than for you. Sorry 😀 Here’s a cute ducky.