Do you remember your "old days" when everything was new? When every day, even a rainy one, was a good day? Those days when there was always sun? I often catch myself trying to remember my "old days." If I'm depressed or sad or frustrated, I find it easier to look to the past than to deal with the future. My memories are my escape from my everyday problems, and my fondest are those of a boy I loved in kindergarten. His name was Rob, and when I was four, he was five (an older man). Well, I truly loved him. His dark hair and tan skin (which are now all I can remember) were beautiful to me. Every day I would hide in the bushes like a private eye, and watch him from across the playground. I knew everything about him: how he played kickball with his left foot, how much he hated dodge ball and hide and go seek, and how he created tiny masterpieces from sand.
Some days I would create my own masterpieces using my dreams of our life together. We had six children (Bobby, Cindy, Greg, Marsha, Peter, and Jan), one dog (Scooby-Doo), one cat (Garfield), and we lived (at first) in a small white house with a white picket fence. By the end of first grade we were living in a mansion. For months I tried to get his attention. I did balance beam routines better than Mary-Lou, I drew like Escher, I painted pictures that shamed Cezanne, and I did stand-up comedy better even than Rosie O'Donnell. In the end though, I didn't make the Olympic team, my sketches were never famous, I didn't get my own exhibit at the art museum, Stand-Up Spotlight didn't call, and Rob never noticed me.
Another girl would always catch his eye. She was the one with Gap clothes, better toys, tie sneakers (instead of Velcro), pink ribbons in her hair; she would always laugh and smile when Rob was nearby. But, for me, Gap clothes were too big, my brother's old toys were fine, Velcro shoes were all I had (I didn't know how to tie shoelaces), my favorite color wasn't pink, and Rob's jokes weren't that funny. So, I gave up.
I accepted the fact that we would never be together; Rob would never notice me, and I was destined to go to a different school. But then one day, as he climbed onto the swing set, I noticed an empty swing next to my Rob. I could not resist the temptation. I climbed on and started to swing, feeling lighter than air just knowing I was next to him. And then our swings were in sync, we began to swing together! I was amazed, thinking that maybe now I would finally be noticed. However, just as I gained this hope, we drifted apart; as his swing took its own path, I was left alone, swinging by myself.
A few months ago, I was left alone again, swinging by myself. My most recent "Rob" moved away; he found someone in his new town, another girl who has better toys perhaps. I've seen pictures of her, and she has those pink ribbons I could never force myself to wear. She dresses in the latest fashions (Versace, Mizrahi, and Klein) which could easily beat my T-shirt and blue jeans style down the run way. Her hair shines like the sun when mine barely shimmers, and her black 1996 BMW 325 could run circles around my 1991 Honda Accord any day of the week. They all say she is beautiful, but I say so am I. After all, aren't I the one who can do gymnastics? Am I not the one who can draw like Escher, and paint better than Cezanne? Didn't I learn anything from that day on the swing? Yes, I learned that I can continue to swing alone. I can walk onto the playground, climb onto the swing set, and, even if my Rob doesn't notice me, I will always be balancing like a gymnast, I will always be creating beautiful art, I will always be making people laugh, and I will always be swinging. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.