Taken in Arbutus, MD
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Spend the first 13 years of your life single. Wander around the world only caring about yourself and your needs. In 7th grade notice that the boy Eric who only last year had cooties, is now looking much cuter. When Eric invites you to the movies in a group of 10 other people say yes then run home to write in your journal about it. When you tell your Dad a boy invited you to the movies he forbids you from dating until you enter high school.
Go to the movie anyway, but lie to your parents to get there. Eat tuna for lunch and forget to bring mints to the movie. You didn’t know Eric was going to kiss you. By Monday morning the whole school knows you have fish breath. You cry through history class.
Resume being single and only looking out for yourself. Spend most of 8th grade in the library avoiding boys remembering they only bring trouble. Notice that Nick always sits near you in the library. When he asks to be your study partner for math say yes, because what harm could that do? Notice every time you study together, he sits a bit closer to you. You tell him that your dad said no dating for one more year. Nick doesn’t want to be your boyfriend, he is just really fond of tuna.
Finish 8th grade while trying to avoid speaking to boys at all. The summer before high school a new guy moves in across the street. James has golden hair that shimmers in the sun. You two spend afternoons swimming in the local pool and evenings catching fireflies. When he asks you to be his girlfriend, you say yes without hesitation. Spend most of your time together after school hanging out and watching baseball games on TV. When you’re not with him, write him love letters. Drop them off in his locker every morning. Show up at his house uninvited. Become jealous of the girl who is his lab partner. James breaks up with you because you’re too clingy.
Cry for three weeks over the ending of your three-month relationship and eat a pint of ice cream every night before bed. Wake up one day and realize you’ve put on 10 pounds and have seen every episode of Sex and the City three times. Vow to change and move on. Become interested in the theater. Start hanging out with the theater kids a lot, become a set designer for the next play. Start hanging out with Matt and painting all your sets together. Throw paint all over each other until he playfully kisses you. Hold hands everywhere you go, act hopelessly in love. Spend all the rehearsals making out behind the stage. On opening night spend the entire show making out with Dave, a different boy from the tech crew. Matt walks in on you two and storms off because you broke his heart.
Continue to date Dave but notice he spends a lot of time busy with other things he can’t explain to you. When he misses school one day you show up at his house with soup. You catch him with another girl. Walk away crying and promise to yourself that you will never cheat again.
Stop hanging out with the theater kids and spend the summer before 11th grade going to local art galleries and museums. You see the same boy everyday at the galleries until he introduces himself as Dylan. He is an aspiring photographer like you. He needs a muse and you volunteer. You spend the mornings photographing everything from nature to food to cities. The afternoons are spent at the galleries upset that your photographs don’t compare Ansel Adams, and evenings are spent together in the darkroom developing photographs. Because nothing smells as good as the chemicals and Dylan looks so sexy in the red lighting. In September, Dylan asks you to pose nude for a new series of photographs, as his girlfriend not wanting him to see other girls naked, you oblige.
In late December you finally get the courage to tell Dylan you love him and he responds by telling you he’s gay. You’re immediately embarrassed and wonder how you didn’t see the signs. It takes you two months to get over this relationship.
You cope by wearing black every day and start listening to alternative music. On the weekends you attend concerts in the area put on by local bands. After one of the shows you try to meet the drummer from the band ‘Dipping Sauce.’ You love how into the music he is. Brian is thrilled someone enjoyed the show and offered to buy you a drink. You’re only 17 years old but want to seem mature, you ask him to buy you whatever he’s having. Three rum and coke’s later, the room is spinning and you can barely stand. But Bryan thinks you’re hilarious and wants to see you again. Over the next few weeks you attend all his gigs always with a bit of a buzz. Brian notices you’re always drunk and you say it’s just for fun, you promise to drink less. You don’t keep your promise and Brian suggests you get help, you suggest he minds his own business.
You spend the next six months drinking and partying until you have a reality check one morning when you wake up in a strange apartment with no money in your bank account. The months leading up to freshman year of college you spend getting sober and working odd jobs to make back some of the money you lost. You’re excited to begin college and start over.
Your first week at school you become good friends with a girl named Nicole on your floor. One night after dinner she comes over to your room to watch a movie. During the movie you and Nicole kiss and that turns into a roller-coaster of emotions for the next three months. But you heard everyone experiments in college. You embrace this relationship for what it is, an experience. At a gay pride rally you realize that as much as you love Nicole as a friend you’re not gay and break up with her.
The next few months you focus on your studies because you don’t want to fail out of college. In your family studies class you sit next to a boy named Kyle. He asks you to be his partner for the next group project, you say yes. While working closely with him you notice what a sweet guy he is. Your relationship gets stronger and he asks you to be his girlfriend. During the course of the relationship you notice he is getting distant and you fake a pregnancy to keep him around. Four months later when he notices you haven’t gained any weight he quizzes you about the child. You admit to lying and he breaks up with you. Following the breakup he blogs about what a crazy person you are and posts it everywhere. The people you barely knew are now laughing behind your back. You drop out of school in shame.
You spend the rest of your life alone living with 9 cats, each named after a failed relationship.