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Monthly Archives: February 2009

It’s a strange thing to be in love. You know perfectly well what a disgusting, flawed person you are. You know you aren’t very pretty, that you’re a bitch when given half the chance, that you can never be a perfect person. In fact, you’d given up on trying to be a perfect person. You’d resigned yourself to being mean and chubby and mediocre a long time back. You’d realized that you aren’t very nice, that you should just remember to apologize for it, remember to make sure everyone is warned about you in advance. You were just trying to make sure people knew what they were getting into if they decided to be part of your life.

But then… then someone comes along. You forget to warn this one away because looking into his eyes makes your brain stop working for a minute. Meanwhile, your mouth is off to a great start, charming him, asking his name, what part he sings, what he likes to do, what his favorite movies are… it’s like your entire being wants to absorb his essence before your brain wakes up and makes you responsible again- before you realize that all this flirtation is against the rules you’ve set up for yourself, all this charm is tearing apart the walls you built to keep everybody out, that you really shouldn’t be conning him into liking you when you know how awful you are.

By the time your brain kicks in, it’s too late. You talk to him, and he asks if he can do something with you, see you again. Because he wants to see you again. And your brain says, “Weren’t we going to stay off men this year? You’re going to college in the fall! It’s not fair to him if he falls in love with you and you aren’t here for him! And it’s cruel to break up with someone just because you’re going to college! THERE IS NO WAY THIS CAN END WELL! You aren’t worth a long-distance relationship anyway! Remember? The entire point of the rules was to keep you from harming people!”

But you just can’t listen. You can’t stay away. You don’t like him like you’ve liked any of the others. You didn’t even think you were flirting with him at the time. You didn’t think you were being obvious. You have never been so un-self-conscious in your life.

And so you spend time with him. Talking about all sorts of things. All sorts of everything. Finding that right when you’re about to talk about something you love, he’s already singing its praises. As if he can read your mind. At this point, you’re very glad he can’t, because you would be embarrassed if he knew how much you like him. And plus, there are things in your brain you don’t want him to see. You’re afraid that he’ll hate you, he’ll think you’re weird, and worst, that he’ll leave if he knows the things that lurk in your brain.

You let him touch you. You let him kiss you. God knows you want him to. You just want to touch him everywhere and make him as happy as you can, because you know that this dream can’t last forever- one day, he’ll have to find out how bad you are, how much more he deserves in a girlfriend. Because you know your time is limited, you try as hard as you can to make sure he doesn’t figure it out for as long as possible. You try so hard to look like a better person than you are. You try to be nice, to be pretty, to make your voice soft and sweet and not harsh and cruel. You try to look the part of world’s most perfect girlfriend, all so that he won’t leave so soon.

And then you find…

You find that you may not be the world’s most perfect girlfriend, but all this pretending is starting to pay off. Functionally, you’re becoming a better person. You’re nicer to people. You don’t argue as much. You start smiling randomly in the hallways. You put up with people you used to be unable to stand. You pay back debts, you remember to make a lunch for yourself, you get up early, you do your homework… it’s like the facade is rubbing off on the actual building. Like his idea of what you are is seeping into you. As if his admiration is peeling off layers of bad, trying to dig up something that used to be there.

You run over the sand, calling your father. “Daddy! Daddy!” You’re six years old again, adorable, sweet, so happy that you have the greatest father in the world. So glad that someone can love you as totally as he does, without reservation, never forgetting to tell you that you’re beautiful, that you are his sunshine, that he’ll always love you and that you are the greatest thing that ever happened to him. And you strive to be the perfect little girl he imagines you are. Sometimes you fail, and nothing breaks your heart like disappointing him. It doesn’t break your spirit, though. You know that you can make it up to him, because he believes in you. Nothing is impossible with that kind of love at your back.

Until tonight, you were sure that your depression had nothing to with his death. That the entire problem was caused by your shaken faith in humanity. And that may be what triggered it.

But tonight, you realized that the little blonde girl had been crying this whole time. Crying because there was no one to love her, no one to tell her she was beautiful, no one to believe that because she was so lovely, she could just mold the world in her hands like clay.

For a while after he died, it had been okay. The little blonde girl was trying to make him proud, trying to hold together the family because she knew that he wouldn’t have let her mother go to pieces. And your mother was so grateful that it was almost like that love, almost good enough. His memory and her dependence on you were enough to make it okay, enough to keep you together.

And then that summer happened. Your mother no longer leaned on you so much. A boy thought that a half-hour drive to see you was too much to bother. And worst, your opinions didn’t matter enough to convince your best friend to stop hurting you, to stop hurting your friends. You were helpless, you were useless, you were irrelevant, you were worthless. That’s the message you got. And this time, there was no one to tell you otherwise. The little blonde girl dyed her hair brown and hid in the corner. Maybe no one will see me, she thought. Maybe they’ll leave me alone. Maybe if I isolate myself, no one will notice how bad I am. Maybe they won’t hate me. Maybe I can learn to just love myself, and that will be enough for me.

And then a man, a veritable BFG, came to the corner. And he lifted the little girl’s head off her knees, looked into her eyes, and said “You’re beautiful.”

The little girl smiled. It was time to leave the corner. Time to go back to the beach.