Brought Back: Love (as described by four girls)
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I hate you. I hate the way you make me feel about myself. When I flip through the pages the entries with all the lies pop out at me. It’s amazing how long it can take to write five sentences full of half-truths. It’s much harder to dress things up than it is to tell it like it is--raw, painful, and ugly.
I’m going to come out and say it: Jer and I, we had nothing. Correction: we were nothing. Not an entity, like I described in past pages. Forget my hopeless, “I love him.” (Written on April 7th, the day that ultimately changed everything). Forget the drawing I spent hours working on of us. I drew that dimple of his over and over again until it was perfect. Like a crescent moon. Well, forget that stupid dimple because I tore that picture up into pieces. And then I sprinkled it around my room and made it snow.
Forget that time I wrote he held my hand—it was because I tripped and fell, and his fingers only touched mine for the briefest second. I, in my bloated idiocy, made it sound like he clamped on for dear life because he just couldn’t stand not touching me.
Touching me. He never did. Not with love, or even carefully. He treated me like I was some piece of furniture, to be abused endlessly. I guess it was my fault for succumbing to him. Boys are more powerful than we give them credit for, and they’re not nearly as stupid.
They’re not like us. They don’t get doe-eyed and write love letters and poems like in books and movies. They push, and ask for more. They want more, and sometimes girls who are doe-eyed and write love letters and poems give it to them, just to keep them. And you know what those girls become? Something to fall back on. Not something to build upon.
Love is useless. All those times I waited for his call, all those friendly grazes that eventually became more—all those ridiculous close-mouthed kisses that descended into dangerous territory, forget it. I’m going to, so why won’t you? Why don’t the naïve words disintegrate like my heart did? It’s like the pages are clinging to what once was, never to move forward. There’s no closure.
I want to move on. I do. But I’m reminded every day of him. The smallest things bring back the memories—a swatch of grey; the color of his faded chuck taylors. A piece of chocolate the exact brown of his eyes—why does knowing that make the candy so much sweeter? And, oh gracious, smiles. Everyone who smiles brings him back, because he never did anything but smile. Especially when he was sad. He smiled even more then, and that’s how I could tell. And he smiled when he pulled me into his traps, and I pretended his smiles meant you’re beautiful and I love you and I’ll stay with you. But they didn’t. They moonlighted as all of these things, but really, not even his words meant anything, if he would have dared to say them. Actions are the highest form of truth. I knew this, and yet I let myself forget.
Ugh. I’m crying now. I always told myself I’d never, ever cry over a boy. What’s the point? Why waste my tears? But, no matter how much I tell myself I don’t, I miss him. Oh so much. I miss his fingernails and how he chewed the tips off. I miss how he ran his hand through his hair—only when he was agitated, and always in the most half hearted way. He smiled, of course, when he did that, but I still knew.
I knew everything about him. How did he not know me? How could I be so stupid as to give him every part of myself? He never called me after that night. It’s been two months now, and I haven’t heard a word out of him.
Huh. Look at that. I lied some more. He did call. Once. But I’m not going to tell you what happened, because you don’t deserve to know. Journal, you’re never going to forget him.
He makes my word spin in circles. Dizzy, complicated circles. Curlicues sprout from the Y in his name, both in my head and on paper. I write his name a lot. I love the way it sounds with mine. We’re not just Ryan and Sidney anymore. We’re Rydney, or something ridiculous like that. When people say our names, that’s what comes out.
I love having all eyes on us as we walk down the hall. I hold my head a little bit higher when I’m with him. Rayna says my eyes sparkle. But that’s what best friends are supposed to say, so I’m not sure.
I would normally go to Thatcher for a second opinion, but he’s stopped talking to me. Even when I called him yesterday and he said something and I said, “Thatsforsure” which is his nickname, and his catchphrase, he didn’t even smile. I could tell because I’ve known Thatcher since second grade (which you don’t know, since you’re a new diary) and when he smiles his voice cracks.
Talking to a smiling Thatcher sounds like this:
Me: So, my dog bit the mailman yesterday.
Thatsforsure: Where did he-crack-bite him?”
I miss him a whole bunch, but the ache is ebbed by Ryan. I mean, it’s not like Thatcher is outwardly unfriendly—he just doesn’t come over for afternoon movie Wednesdays or Mini-Golf Saturdays. We play Mini-Golf in my backyard, and have for years, with a broom, my cat’s favorite bell toy, and a plastic red cup.
Whenever he sees that cup Thatcher bursts out singing that awful ‘Red Solo Cup’ song. It’s totally hillbilly, but hilarious. His elbows stick out and he prances around. It looks ridiculous,y but seriously, Thatcher is great at prancing.
It’s funny that I meant to talk about Ryan and instead ended up discussing my used-to-be second best friend. Oh, well. He’ll get over it. He always does. He stopped talking to me when I dated Darwin, and then Lewis. But those were silly middle-school relationships and they lasted, like, fifteen seconds.
This time it’s different. I’m a sophomore. Ryan’s a junior. He’s perfect and beautiful and handsome and I want him to be everything to me. I want it so much.
It’s funny that a guy can make me so happy. Before it was the filling inside a Twinkie (pair it with coffee and ohmigosh it’s amazing) and thunder without rain and worm races.
It was totally ridiculous (a mild but unique form of animal cruelty) but I was obsessed with them for years. Thatcher and I used to race worms all the time.
All you need is a garden hose and two pink, plump participants. We even used to measure our worms, to make sure they were the same size.
I’ll never forget the time I stretched the worm too far and the poor thing snapped in half. I cried so hard my nose started to bleed. It does that sometimes. My parents weren’t home, and Rayna was with her mom in New York City. (We live in Albany). Thatcher brought me inside and assured me that no, I was not a horrible person and then he held a Kleenex up to my nose for fifteen minutes until it quit bleeding. And you know what? I loved him for it. I still do.
I miss him more than I thought I did.
That reminds me: I have a date with Ryan tonight. I’m going to wear my short purple halter-neck dress and I’m going to put my hair up. He says it’s beautiful that way. After dinner we’re going to his house.
I’m nervous, but excited. Everything could change tonight.
For the better. I hope.
I can’t take it anymore.
Somehow we’re stuck, yelling, yelling, yelling, and I don’t know what to do. We’re teenagers. We should be happy. This relationship should be everything that movies and books describe. Yet every time we get together we end up fighting. He calls me names, and I yell them right back. He’s the bane of my existence.
But he tells me he loves me. Every single time. It always, “You’re hideous, Ana! No one else could ever love you but me. I love you.” Really. That’s word-for-word. The most pathetic part is that I cling to those words. I cling to the fact that he might just love me. I know I can be a worrywart, and crude, and overbearing—but with him, that all melts away until I’m exposed and deathly fragile. So much that he’s at liberty to break me. He does.
Now, every time I walk into my bedroom, I stare in the mirror and think about how fat I am. (he says so through texts and emails, sometimes even in person. ‘Ana, I love you, but you need to lose weight. it’s unhealthy!’) I think about how my hair is too red to even be pretty. (‘ginger!’ he says jokingly. ‘gingers don’t have souls!’) Apparently that’s from South Park.
But, mostly, I think about my personality. (‘you’re too much, Ana. too much for any guy to handle but me. you’re just…too much.’) That last part hurts most because I know it’s true. It’s not something I can change. I can lose weight, and I can dye my hair, but I am who I am. I’m always going to be controlling. I’m always going to be a pessimist, and a down-in-the-dumps sort of girl. He doesn’t want me to be like that, though.
I don’t know why I’m with him. But I also don’t think any other guy would give me the time of day—not after all that he’s said. Who would want me? Just him.
We met that day in chem. lab, when we were assigned as partners. He took one look at me and said, “Wow…I believe you’re the single most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” Just like that! We went out on a date the next night and our relationship began. It’s been one and a half years now. He’s been mean the whole time. Once he reeled me in, he changed. He changed completely. It was so shocking that I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to make him happy. I kept going back to those words. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Isn’t that how every girl wants to feel? He made me feel that way one time, so very long ago. He hasn’t since.
And it’s not like he’s hit me, either. It would be easier to get out of this if he had. Physical abuse is something everyone witnesses, and if he ever hurt me like that, everyone would hate him. Including me.
But verbal scars much deeper, and it’s harder to escape from. Because now he’s made me feel like I’m not strong enough to stand on my own. Anywhere I turn, I will hear the words he has said, only amplified, without the I-love-yous to soften the blow.
I don’t know where to go, or what to do. We go off to college this summer, and then what? He leaves me? I don’t want him to. I know I should but I don’t. I feel so afraid. He’s the only boyfriend I’ve ever had, and the only boy I’ve ever been close with. (he once told me the reason for this was he is able to ‘look past your faults; other guys can’t. heck, the only other dude who’d date you would have to be blind or deaf. maybe both. but i see your potential, Ana.’)
I don’t keep a diary, so I’ve been writing all of this on a stray piece of notebook paper during math class. And I think I might give it to him, so he sees. I want him to know what damage he’s done.
Then again, he probably wouldn’t understand. He says he loves me, but I have a feeling he doesn’t. He’d laugh and say, ‘Now you’re a poet, aren’t you? Well, you suck at it. Ha, kidding.’
I’m happy. Really, really happy. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. I tend to be a fairly content person anyway, but now I’m especially so. And then I’m kind of not. Andy brings this new wave of passion to my life that stirs my heart. I can’t sit still anymore. My legs are always bouncing, and my hands tap songs out on my thighs. Love songs, of course.
Yesterday we went out for ice cream. Andy already knew what flavor I wanted and what type of cone. So, since he ordered for me, I ordered for him. I got it right. We sat across from each other and played footsie under the table, swapping bites of mint-chocolate-chip and blue moon (his and mine). Then, when the ice cream was gone, he took my hand and led me outside where he kissed me right in the middle of the street in front of everyone.
Our love is so perfect—it’s just what the both of us need. He seemed to swoop in and save me at my lowest. You were there through it all, diary. Mom and dad called it quits and it shattered me. I felt so empty. I already knew Andy from school, of course, but I hadn’t ever talked to him. He was smart and cool and untouchable, at least by me.
One morning, not long after they broke the news to me, I tripped over my own feet in the hallway and dropped all my books. The sight of them spilling on the floor seemed to set me off. I started crying, which eventually led to sobbing. A couple people asked if I was okay, hovering by me. When I waved them off they left. Andy, out of all the people in the hallway that day, was the only one who grabbed my hand and helped me up and said, “No, you’re not okay. Come with me.”
He took me to the nurse’s office and sat with me while I waited, handing me tissues every now and then. I poured out the story of my parents, not bothering to skip over the grimy parts. When I was done, I smoothed my skirt self-consciously. Here I was, a lowly freshman, and he was glorious and he knew everything about me. He didn’t say anything after I finished, just took my hand and squeezed it. He didn’t let go until Miss Adams came to fetch me and called my mom. Even then, he seemed hesitant to go.
I was back in school the next day, much better after a night of sleep and a Full House marathon. The first person I saw upon coming in the doors was Andy. He rushed up to me and asked if I was okay. I told him I was much better. He took my books from me “Just in case”, with a wink. I grinned at him.
The nice thing about us is the fact that we were friends before we were more. We got to know each other and fell in love. He was there with me, for me, through everything. The first time we kissed we were sitting at my table, having breakfast (which had become our Saturday routine) and he just leaned over and pressed his lips against mine. He tasted like orange juice and bacon and cinnamon toast.
I was so surprised I didn’t kiss him back, at least not for a minute. After that, though, my arms wound around his neck—I remember being pleased to find they seemed to fit there—and his hands drew my face closer. The first thing he said upon us pulling away was, “I love you. I always have.” We both cried.
I don’t think I’m going to ever forget anything. It’s been three years now and we’re going to graduate in a few months, but we’re still one. He visits me every night and we eat dinner together, while mom goes out with her new boyfriend. (Which he’s also helped me through a tremendous amount). Then we play some stupid board game like Scrabble. Our game conversations usually go something like this,
“Andy! You cheated!”
“It’s not cheating--it’s taking advantage of the fact that I am able to grab a new letter from the box without you noticing.”
“Fine. Then I’m going to do it, too!”
“You can’t. That’s cheating.”
“Cheating. Liz, you know better than that!”
“Just don’t; don’t cheat on me!”
(This is where I usually roll my eyes). “I never will. Either kind. But you, apparently, will since you just cheated.”
“Liz, don’t say that. You know I will never stop loving you.”
(I’m usually silent because the conversation has taken such a turn.)
“Liz? Hello, earth-to-Liz? You there?”
(insert kiss from Andy, where all my happiness bubbles back up.)
“I love you, okay? Now...can I spell giraffe here?”
“You too. No, I don’t think so.”
It’s incredibly sappy and beautiful and perfect. I usually take that opportunity to run my hands through his golden brown hair, or to study his penetrating hazel eyes. Then we go back to the game and he doesn’t cheat anymore.
Overall, I guess I’m just so glad to have him. I feel blessed. I see the other girls in my school: Etta with Jeremy, who had her on his arm one day and some blonde the next. Then there’s Sidney and Thatcher, who obviously loves her but she doesn’t know it (everyone else does) and instead she’s going out with Ryan. I feel especially bad for Ana, who’s one of the kindest, sweetest girls in our school but is with that stupid jock Logan. I found a paper crumpled up on the floor one afternoon during math where she’d written all about him. (I ripped it up and threw away).
And then there’s us: Lysbeth and Andy, who are together for the better part of forever. I’m not going to take it for granted.
I’m lucky to be in love. I’m lucky to have found him. He’s the one, I’m sure of it.
I’m sure of him.