In 7th grade, I spent every lunch period in this particular room on my school campus. The room itself was dull, but there was a boy waiting there every day who drew me in. He had glasses and white blond hair and a flirtatious grin that was designed to make my heart skip a beat.
One day, it was cold and I was under-dressed… as usual. I hated layering too many clothes on top of my layers of fat. Anyway, this boy offered me his jean jacket. It was warm, with a sheepskin layer inside that peeked out at the collar. And it was tight on me – because he was a skinny kid and I was not. But I wore the hell out of that jacket for the rest of our lunch period.
Now, this boy was a year older than me. So at the end of my 7th grade year, he graduated and moved up to high school.
By the time I got to high school a year later, I’d put on even more weight. And we no longer had shared lunch periods or flirtatious smiles. But he was on the JV basketball team. A friend of mine kept stats for the varsity basketball team, and convinced me to be a stat keeper for the freshman and JV teams. This meant I got to travel to all the away games on the bus with the boys. It was a fascinating opportunity to witness the inner-workings of the male species, and I had a blast hanging out and becoming friends with these guys. I also had a front row seat to watch my crush from 7th grade. He was a pretty good ball player – a starter on the JV team – and had only gotten cuter with time.
But he no longer beckoned me to his lunch spot, or let me borrow his jacket. I hung around him anyway, reveling in the brief smiles and snippets of conversation he granted me. I even signed up to be his Secret Pal – a tradition where girls would treat each athlete to little gifts, cookies, a decorated locker, etc. on game day. I would swoon when all of his friends said he got the best cookies, and conveniently ignored the fact that he never said anything about my efforts.
Looking back, I have no idea why I continued to torture myself. I got no positive reinforcement from him, no signs that he was interested in me. But I kept crushing on him, and beating myself up for not being cute enough or small enough. The younger, immature middle schooler in me just couldn’t let go of those lunchroom memories from 7th grade. So I desperately tried to re-ignite the spark I’d felt between us back then.
By the time he graduated from high school, I’d nurtured an unhealthy obsession with him for five years. There was mild stalker behavior included… typical teenage girl crap. Driving by his house with girlfriends, or re-routing by his classrooms as I walked to my classes. At one point during his senior year, I’d even talked him into taking me golfing – one of his favorite hobbies – and then got stood up. Looking back, I can see how gracious he actually was. He never demeaned or berated my innocent advances. He’d chat with me at least once every game day. After his graduation ceremony, he sweetly posed for a photo with me – and I cherished that damn picture for way too long. I’m so grateful the Universe ended it there. He’s nowhere to be found on the internet. I have no idea what he’s done with his life.
But I’m very clear on what I’ve done with mine. Married an amazing husband/father, after dating him for eight years to be sure our union would last. Fought tooth and nail to save our marriage, when each of our egos and brokenness threatened to end it. Pushed the limits of my own personal growth – facing monstrous fears and horrible demons, having faith that there was a more beautiful, joyous way to live on the other side. Shed countless tears when my open heart continuously got shut down and stomped on. Rose from the ashes of a barren career to become my own boss – living life and choosing work on my terms. And most importantly, I've aligned myself with people who have a bright light within.
Do you see our lights? Can you feel your own light fluttering inside? Begging to shine bright?