Emotional Baggage This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     In two weeks I will see him. Twelve days, actually. I would calculate the minutes and seconds, too, if it didn’t make me seem desperate. But I can’t help it, he’s the only thing on my mind. While my teachers lecture about imperialism or the properties of sine and cosine graphs, I scribble in my notebook, counting down the days. The numbers become bolder and larger as I struggle to contain my anticipation.

I fantasize about the moment I will see him. Our brown eyes will lock and he will walk that infamous walk. Sly and smooth, a tilt of the head and a half smile - I know the stride so well that I will mimic him. He will let out a laugh, throw his arms around me and whisper, “Hey, babe” into my hair. A tanned hand will place his favorite white-and-blue basketball hat on my head and suddenly everything will be perfect.

All weekend we will walk arm in arm, our feet moving left, right, left in unison. Through basketball games and fancy restaurants, we will smile and stay up all night, huddled in an old purple blanket I gave him, joking about the hot summer days of unair-conditioned bus rides and cool nights of waves crashing on the beach. He will let me fall asleep on him and I will let him run his hands through my hair. I will laugh with his father and tell him how they look alike. His friends will say, “She is great” and tell him, “I have never seen you so happy.” And it will be true because both of us will be the happiest we have been since we were last together.

My friends hear the way I talk about him and ask, “Melanie, do you love him?” My high praise and excited tones would hint at love, but I am, in fact, quite unsure. I don’t even know how much I like him.

Back in seventh grade, every girl wanted a Kate Spade purse. As we threw the shiny black material over our shoulders, we felt smart, sophisticated, sociable. Our 12-year-old selves seemed to have miraculously aged to 17 as we sauntered down the hallways of junior high or through the mall. Our families complimented our style; older boys gave us a second glance; teachers even shared shopping stories with us. The bags gave us a sense of empowerment. We felt that we could throw popular parties and ace pop quizzes with the aid of our Kate Spades. I know we could have survived without this designer badge but we were afraid to join the ranks of the invisible.

Reality’s pen has leaked, staining the lining of the admired purse. He has become my Kate Spade. Now the idea of a man of her own is every girl’s craving. I don’t know why we romanticize this or where the message comes from; maybe it is the abundance of PDA in the hallways or the celebrities parading around or all the love songs, movies, poems and plays. Everywhere we look we are told that having a man makes us desirable, beautiful and successful. Carrying around our boyfriends makes strangers and friends look at us differently, respectfully, enviously. Men make women feel special.

I’ve come to realize that finding the right guy is a lot harder than finding the right purse. In the end it doesn’t matter which bag we carry or what logo it sports because what matters is how much the bag means to us. I need my purse to be more than my constant companion. I want to spend a magical evening at a dance with a crush. I want to experience a romantic Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend. I want to watch jewelry commercials and dream that I will receive my first diamond from the man I love. But I have no specific man in mind when I imagine this.

This boy that I’m counting days for fits so well into the dream scenario because I want him to. I want him because he happens to be the only guy in my life right now. I am petrified to see him because I don’t think our time together will live up to my expectations. I don’t think that he will live up to my expectations. And then that means having to carry out spring-cleaning in my heart.

More and more I realize the reason we take so long to get over a relationship is because it means accepting the fact that we are on our own, with no one to love. The reason we hold onto last season’s Kate Spade is because getting rid of it would mean shopping for a new one.

However, someone did tell me that Coach is having a sale ....

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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