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Hopelessly Devoted to Love: A Self-Effacing Essay
As an obsessive compulsive, you tend to become too invested in certain things. This includes a possibly scary passion for hobbies, like coin collecting, studies of dermatological diseases, and perhaps, worst of all, a passion for realism. But coupled with being a hopeless romantic, there are warning signs all over. It plays out like the notes of a psychiatrist, something like: “The subject is prone to want to spend almost all of his own money on someone.” “The subject has a tendency to break out in songs dating back to the 1950s and songs by Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra.” “The subject has lost him mind over someone who doesn’t even know he exists.”
These pseudo-symptoms are not uncommon. They take hold on the subject quickly, almost like a flesh eating disease. One particular case of unrequited love meets completely crazy patient is one of my own. Though, it did not seem funny at all when it happened–for it felt as if someone took one of those steak forks and plunged it into my chest cavity—I have since noticed certain aspects being pathetic and hilarious, like the antics of Steve Carell’s bumbling boss Michael Scott on The Office.
My father had just died and, left with a feeling of abnormal loneliness, I made it my goal to fall “in love” as quickly as possible, hoping for a shoulder to lean on and children in the future. This was me, the same person who scoffed at my friend’s “unrealistic” attitude towards her not-yet boyfriend. I was in a daze, and I set my eye on a certain Mormon name d Paulette. It was as if Joseph Smith himself had sent an angel down to bless me with her beauty, a ravishing young girl with old Hollywood kind of looks and a bewitching laugh.
In my craze, I spent my time looking up stuff on the Zion and the history of the Church of Latter-Day Saints when I should have been doing my homework. I would look at the clock and see those red lights screaming “Get your ass in bed, it is 3:30 AM and you have to wake up in about 90 minutes!” I was totally engrossed by the history of the Mormons, learning as much as I could. Yes, I did read four books on the history of Mormonism and Joseph Smith; two shedding light positively and two being decidedly anti-Mormon. And yes, I did watch a full length four hour documentary on the Mormons, which PBS so astutely titled The Mormons. If that’s not crazy enough for you, I, in my little kid and full hearted head, thought of converting for her. Oh, how ridiculous I was.
I didn’t tell many people at first; only, I told some of the few upperclassmen who could probably help me. Jessica B. and Julia S., a junior and senior, respectively, were helpful in the theoretical way. Offering comfort and advice, they were like Yoda in female form and who could speak, or type, discernable English. Eventually, my big mouth ran off and then the person in question was told or found out. It didn’t bother me, I lied to myself. But it did. A lot. Enamored of this young woman, I kept hoping and praying it would work out in my favor. Little did I know there was going to be a big, muscled, masculine Albanian as an obstacle.
Come mid-October, I was dying inside, begging for something to work out. My best friends noticed a slightly panicked look on my face, as if I had been spooked. The reaction of mine was hardly necessary, but being a full-fledged hopeless romantic, I needed to become as invested as possible. That’s probably one of my biggest mistakes in any case. Our school club has a little charity thing and it involved camping out and sleeping in a church, which was all well and good. But, over and over, my eyes would drift to Ms. Paulette, glowing like she was, God forbid, pregnant, and then seeing this guy named Gjergji around her. At that point, I did not know him well, but, as a slight spoiler warning, he and I became pretty good friends. Anyways, throughout the night, the two would be nestled together, as if all my nightmares had sprung up from my head and turned into reality. My chest was getting sorer and sorer. By that time, I thought I had given up all hope. The worst was yet to come.
I spoke with Gjergji the day after, my stomach cramping like I had eaten a dozen razors. He felt a little bad I was not able to tell Paulette my feelings, but I said I didn’t mind and I wouldn’t have competed anyways. It was my nature to yield to even a relatively new friend. The two began dating, and their relationship was sort of…shall we say, graphic. Not overtly sexual, but graphic enough. On the trip to New York for our Model United Nations meetings, for three hours straight, both of their lips were stapled together, or better yet, vacuums. Making unpleasant noises I could hear from four seats away, I would turn every so often and see the two, sucking each other’s face off like they were both insects performing some odd mating ritual where one must suck the face of the other. That was when I lost all hope.
I trounced around that day acting like nothing was bothering me. I had thought myself a good actor, and proved that I was capable of wearing a believable mask. It was helpful. I was so hurt, but I tried to ignore it. Like the huge elephant people speak of, I bumped into it several times, acting blind sighted. But the act should have stopped.
People tell me rebounds are not good, that they’re fun things, but at the end of the day, you’re still thinking about the one who broke your heart. Well, I don’t think she broke my heart, because, in all honesty, it was my fault for being so very foolish. I got too invested in something that didn’t even exist, kind of like the child who performed as much research as possible into a science project he wasn’t allowed to even do. (That was me.) And in New York, I literally bounced off someone named Sonila R. Cousin of Gjergji, she was the most radiant young woman I had ever seen.
We began having conversations for 7 hours a day, the time it takes to watch the original Star Wars trilogy. It was almost surprising how quickly I fell for her. I hit the ground running after my father died, thrown into the vast world of high school, fell into a hole, climbed out, and then fell in a deeper, more cavernous hole, a dark abyss of self-loathing. The conversations were revealing into her personality, layered like a good book or movie. There was a smart and funny exterior and then there was a deeper, powerful, amazing interior.
If I hadn’t lost my mind on the last person, I probably went more bonkers on Sonila than anyone I had ever met. I think what appealed to me was the layers. And her hair. Having a long history of having a hair fetish, the hair was a major draw. And her eyes. They were like soulful marbles. Yeah, marbles singing James Brown is exactly what I mean. Oooh, I feel good! And you knew that I would!
I have always sacrificed my own happiness for the happiness of others, even if I don’t really care for them. I almost went broke with her, giving her food and candy and candy and drinks and food and candy and food and candy and food…
November came and I thought that, after 5 weeks of torturing my soul, I would tell her I liked her. We had been talking for several hours about her trying to get her man, but, like murderer says, something told me to do it anyways. I was unaware how crushing it would be. Drop a piano on my head, batter me with a rolling pin, throw a boot at me, but don’t make me go through this again. Summoning up what little courage I had and being rooted for mildly from my friend Ammon, I told her that I had feelings for her. Unsurprisingly, she said that she did not reciprocate the feelings, but felt really bad. It was that damn friend zone.
In probably two or three sentences, I had a little heart attack. I knew it was coming, the rejection, but I didn’t know how much it would suck. It was the fun equivalent of having to watch that damn Six Flags ad with the old guy about a gazillion times. Torture, torture, torture. Or as much fun as getting to be in the Saw movies. Need I say more? I cried, and then I fell asleep listening to absurdly sad songs by Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra.
Hoping that it would be as good as those incessant movie freaks in romantic comedies, I kept at it, not giving up completely. I hoped that she would tell me that she had made a mistake and really did have feelings for me, but that was like thinking the Cheshire Cat would knock on my door and ask me out to tea: completely ridiculous, even for my standards.
I, on the advice of a friend, poured my heart out into a letter. But calling it a letter would be rather loose, as it was over 3000 words long. My friends made up a joke: “You know you’re Kyle T. if you can’t tell the difference between a letter and an essay.” In the letter were details as to why I liked her so much and how much she meant to me. While the overall concept of the letter got out to people, the actual thing was never given to her until I talked to a brooding senior.
A young man known for being quiet and sulky, Robert M. and I had created a dialogue, and our relationship was like Al Capone talking to some waitress and telling her his feelings. I had gotten mild notoriety as “the mature freshman” and slowly began being the person people vented to. It was really nice being in that position, but it was still odd. Moore was a quiet soccer player, intimidating and scary. But, he revealed he, too, was a hopeless romantic. It was an alliance that was both handy and surprising. He gave me the advice that, rather than spend the rest of my life wondering “what would have happened if I had given her the letter”, I should just give her the letter. I should be glad I was making my feelings known. He read it and the accolade I got was shocking in a way. I mean, I knew it was embarrassing, but he really liked it. REALLY LIKED IT. I spend a week contemplating which was the lesser of two evils, and thought that giving it to her would be less worse.
I was worried as hell, waiting for a response. My nails became fine little curves of enamel, finely cut by my front teeth into sculpture like cleanness. Finally, Paulette, who had since become one of my best friends, told me that Sonila had read the letter. The response requires an analogy I like to use.
It was as if she had gone to a restaurant and received something she had not ordered. She was surprised at its taste, which was sweet, but, due to the fact that she wanted to be with someone else, she would not order it again. It was good once, but never again.
I suppose it wasn’t the worst response I could have gotten. It was better than her taking the letter, burning it, and then slapping me in the face like a bitch in prison, but it wasn’t exactly as warm as I had wanted it to be.
Entranced by her personality, I spent the next 8 months getting over her. The entire experience of getting over someone can be compared to watching your first R rated movie. Mine was Scream 2, and at the ripe age of 7, I snuck the video cassette and watched the first 15 minutes. Terrified at the violence being committed, I shut it off and had nightmares for a week. But, I went back. Even though I wasn’t supposed, and didn’t even want to experience it again. The danger and adrenaline played a part, but the forbidden aspect was most important. She didn’t want me, and I wanted to get over her. But, I kept wanting to go back. I was a puppy dog who had been pushed away. Or, like Sandy in Grease, I was Hopelessly Devoted to her. However, in order to win her over, I was not to regress in evolution and become a slut, or bastard, or jerk.
I moved on, sort of. I moved on from her like a waiter is polite too all of his or her customers. Which means, not really at all. With the next “batch’ of love interests (my interest, never theirs), she was in the back of my mind, something I couldn’t erase, like a kid can’t erase a DUI arrest off his record. And with each girl that I tried to court, I was constantly placed in the dreaded Friend Zone. It all came back sometime before finals, when I received a letter. Not nearly as long as my letters, mostly because she isn’t as totally crazy as I am, Sunny had written me a letter. I read it once, and each line, word, and even letter made me smile bigger and bigger. It was about how she appreciated me as a friend and her genuine remorse for hurting me. I was so shocked at having received such a letter. It made my school year. It gave me a little ounce of hope. I read it over and over again, like a favorite book. It was splendid. And all the feelings came flooding back, drowning my heart in sorrow and unrequited love. I kept quoting Charles Schulz, saying “There’s nothing like unrequited love to ruin the taste of a peanut butter sandwich” and “Love is being happy knowing she’s happy…but that isn’t so easy”. Again, my soul was getting b****-slapped like a soap opera character.
While I certainly love to be someone people can trust and be intimate with platonically, it’s really annoying not being able to be seen as anything else. Like the actor who is always typecast as the best friend, you sort of either wanna quit the business or start trying out for different roles. So long have I been in this role, that I was deemed Senator of the Friend Zone. “As your ruler, I think we should all be proud of who we are…”
But, I got sick of it. I wanted to quit. I was 16 and had yet to be in a relationship, or even a fling, and I was tired of being rejected. I wanted a real relationship with real feelings, but I was deemed unfit for the leading man role by every young woman I was ever interested in. Tired and weary of the repetition, I decided to take a break. My blood pressure was going up and my heart was sore from so many chances that had been worthless. But, I realized I had friends who cared about me. And, quitting was a good thing. As much as my heart ached for that someone, I knew it was okay. I was more hopelessly devoted to love itself, rather than just her.