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My life as a teenage girl.
Love hurts. Honestly and truthfully, it hurts like hell.
Yet, I can't remember a time before i started dating Will where i was as happy as i am now. Granted I was happier two weeks ago when i was still dating him.
Will and i went to school together. Science class, eighth period. I sat second row, and he sat in the third row. Nowhere near me, of course, but close enough to make my heart pound when he would stand up or say my name. I'll never forget the time our teacher asked him to pick the next reader. I felt my palms go sweaty, i closed my eyes tighter than I’d ever done before, and i felt my toes curl under. I knew somehow that he was going to say my name, and no surprise there, his next word was, "Erika hasn't read in a while." i remember glaring back at him while he smiled and began the article about Electrons.
Something about that day should've told me about him.
We never really got to know each other, in fact. We couldn't ever actually, truthfully, call each other friends. In the beginning, i hated him with the very depth of my bones. I'd decided it was the fact that he didn't return those feelings and i was jealous of the girl he DID have feelings for.
But i learned my lesson. Will deserved no such thing from me. He and Meagan (The girl he did have feelings for) had a "fling" that petered just after school ended. I spent the summer hanging out with my across the street neighbor, Andrew.
I discovered feelings i hadn't knew existed one night. He and i were babysitting his niece when suddenly i got the hiccups. He told me to sit upside down and breathe through my nose. Of course, sitting upside down was impossible without him holding my legs. The next thing i know my hiccups are gone, but there is a burning sensation in my throat. Not only had Andrew touched my legs in more than friend way, he'd continued to do it after my hiccups had gone away. Was this normal? I remember wondering.
He offered me a soda, and of course it sprayed on my shirt. Lucky me i had a tank top underneath, but it was white and my bra was orange.
Andrew was just as experienced as i was at that point. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
I guess i should've seen it coming. We've lived across the street from each other since we were literally in diapers. We met at the bus stop for preschool. I've known him all my life; things were never weird with him and me. I could tell him everything and he wouldn't judge me at all. He knew about my feelings for Will, and i knew he was starting to consider he might be Bisexual.
But that didn't make a difference to me. Especially that night.
His niece, Natalie, was passed out. Literally sucking on her thumb and snoring. Peaceful in slumber.
I remember the look on his face when he saw my bra. It was pure amazement. I'm not big in the boob department, medium perhaps. But nothing ogle worthy. And then he met my eyes and i remember trying to decipher what was going on in his head because the rest of his body definitely wasn't responding.
To spare you the dirty details, let’s just say, things got out of control that night. I remember that even while it was happening i couldn't look at him anywhere other than his eyes. His beautiful blue-gray eyes. I lost a piece of myself that night to a very important person. Andrew and i don't talk about what happened that night. "It's in the past," as he puts it. He and i know things shouldn't have gone that far. But somehow i don't regret that night. Not nearly as much as i regret every time i look at Dakota.
Dakota, another friend from school, and i weren't ever really close. Things didn't happen quite like they did with Andrew. But Dakota and another boy from our class, Chris, were hanging out with me one night.
I write lyrics for their band. Chris is the lead singer and Dakota records and helps me make choice with music. Did i mention? I play the keyboard.
Back to the story, Chris and Dakota. Dakota's gorgeous. His mother is from Japan and his father is from Texas. He's amazing to watch when i forget my books. I'll admit i had a minor crush on Dakota from day one. But Chris was a different story.
Chris dated my best friend, Amanda, and then another best friend, Vanilla, all in one year. He cheated on them both with the other one and ultimately created a barrier between Amanda and Vanilla, which of course breaks down a little later in the story.
Chris isn't as nice to look at as Dakota is. Chris is the sensitive type. He's also a lead singer, so he's got charm too. I'll admit as well, i didn't have any minor crush on Chris in the beginning, however, i felt slightly bad for what he went through when Amanda broke up with him the first time. She didn't know about Vanilla, and broke up with him simply because he wanted to meet her parents.
I keep getting side-tracked, I'm sorry. I'm typing this with a lot on my mind.
Truth is, a lot happened that night. We were in my basement. I was on the couch, playing the keyboard, one note at a time, singing the chorus when Chris emerged from the shadows. I'd invited him, but he didn't ring the bell or knock, so i was obviously surprised to have him watching me.
He grinned, "How long have you been playing again?" He closed the screen door loudly.
"Twelve years," i remember specifically, watching him turn the light off.
Dakota's voice boomed from the other side of my ear, "Since you were three?"
I remember turning the light on with a lot of suspiciousness.
I'm sure you can figure the rest of that night out.
That was summer. In the winter, everything from summer was out in the open; everyone knew how i tried to run. How i failed at an escape and how i ended up getting raped in my parent's bed with the power cut and my poor dog trapped in a barbwire cage in the backyard. She got the short stick, i find myself thinking at times like these, when remembering that night is both a luxury and a pain.
This January i got an IM message from you guessed it, Will. He'd survived freshman year with the rumors circulating of him and Megan. But he couldn't survive three more. And so he transferred. But he had a few months of sophomore year and a few more classes with me. Math--My worst subject, and History--my best subject.
In the message he asked, "Hey? Haven't talked to you in a long time. How've you been?"
My rape situation was one of those, don't ask, don't tell circumstances. As Andrew would put it, "It's in the past."
Will set me up. My response was, "Yeah. We had math and history together. And Science last year."
He replied quickly with, "Either you've got a really good memory or you like me."
Surprised as how flawlessly this was going, i answered with, and “I will neither deny nor admit anything."
That's where it started. He knew i liked him, and in the next reply he told me those feelings were returned.
Another plot in the story of my life was the other girl Will had "Feelings" for.
Amanda and Will have nothing in common. No one has anything in common with Amanda except her boyfriend, Derek. Derek, of course has been trying to get inside Amanda's pants since before eighth grade--Good luck with that, buddy. More on the Derek person later.
Will asked me if i wanted to "hang out" with him. I said, sure, and a few friends too, because i still wasn't really quite comfortable being alone with a guy ever since the Dakota and Chris thing. Will changed that, unbelievably, you'll see. Will told me that he'd been trying to hang out with Amanda and Derek since the summer. And i told him that Amanda was my best friend, and that could be arranged if need be. He then, verbatim, told me, "Amanda's like a shiny new Mac that you want really bad, but you just can't afford." At first i thought he was telling me my best friend was a prostitute and then he interpreted my silence as "I need an explanation." He then told me that Amanda had been the few people able to forgive the rumors of him and Megan and still talk to him. I felt bad immediately. I was having my own problems at that point, I’ll get to that part in the story soon--I promise.
The next day in school, after a night of texting Will and video chatting, i asked Amanda point blank if she had feelings for Will. Her answer? None at all.
Score for Erika. I couldn't wait to text him that he'd been rejected and that i was available.
That day, of course, he asked me out. A movie on Sunday and a nice night at his house. We were going to watch Iron Man--I still hadn't seen it.
Will and everyone else mentioned in my story, including me, go to a technical school for specific things. Andrew, Chris, Dakota and I go for culinary arts. Derek and Will went for Electronics. OH and Amanda goes for Health sciences.
Will hosts an online music show every Thursday and Friday. On the first Friday of our relationship he did a shout out to me and a bunch of my friends who were listening. He gained points immediately, of course and I didn’t feel bad then. I didn’t feel bad for being happy.
I made a horrible mistake. I texted him, “I think I love you.” And he took me seriously. He texted me back, “I was worried it was too early! Erika, I feel the exact same way! You’re amazing and I think I love you too!”
My problem? I’d never been in love. I didn’t know what being in love was supposed to feel like. At that point I realized I hadn’t been eating, and I’d barely been sleeping. I spent all my time talking to him. ALL my time. I texted him from the moment I woke up till the moment I collapsed into sleep because I hadn’t gotten sleep the night before. Crazy enough, I knew I had strong feelings. But I couldn’t bring myself to say the words. “I love you, Will.” They never came out of my lips in the course of our entire relationship. Not even more. He and I had pet names, though. What I would say when I wanted to win an argument was, “I love you so much, Babe.” He’d always respond, “Awe, Honey bunches! You’re amazing! I love you more, however.”
Our first date we got straight to the physical stuff. Not planned, however. I set my eyes on Will’s lips and they just sort of looked like home. I couldn’t go five minutes on that first date without kissing him. Literally ever four minutes that would go by I would touch his cheek, and he’d drop everything he was doing and kiss me like one of us had came back from Iraq.
Nothing wrong with that, of course, except when things get out of hand.
Here’s where things start going wrong. To put it into the most easy of ways so that this article is actually published…Will and I WERE virgins when we met each other during freshman year. But we both had done…that before getting together in January. He and I weren’t for abstinence. His philosophy was that if it felt good and it brought two people closer to connecting that it wasn’t bad. My philosophy, my first time counted, but the second…and third…and fourth times didn’t. I had to find balance somewhere. And the only way to get rid of “bad” sex was to replace it with “good” sex. Bad and good as in moral wise.
The newest part of my life was going on the pill for Will. Not the best of my ideas. Because the day after I told him I’d made my decision he told me, verbatim, “We’re going too fast and think we should break-up for a while.”
The shock in my expression was enough for a few people to stop and touch my shoulder. I’d been sitting in computer lab in the library writing a new song for my band, the band excluding Chris and Dakota, of course.
I didn’t cry. That surprised me. I wanted to hit him. Harder than I wanted to hit Dakota or hit Chris. I wanted to bring Will to his knees and hit him while he was down. Help him up to the top level and then drop him down to the first level in a split second like he’d done to me. I wanted to watch his face while he got castrated without any meds. I wanted to see him feel the way I was feeling. Torn and bloody.
And then six minutes later he texted me a long paragraph, verbatim, “I’ve made a horrible mistake. I lost a girl who meant so much to me. Erika, you’re the most amazing girl in my life, I can’t imagine waking up and not having a good morning text from you. I can’t imagine you being mad at me. I can’t take it if weren’t not together. I love you, Erika. More than you can imagine. I want you in my life, in every way I can possible get you. Please take me back; I swear to god that I’m not going to make a mistake like this ever again. Please, Erika. Please forgive me, please let me show you that I can do it right…please?”
I remember that I was slightly aware that Will was being desperate. I couldn’t possible mean this much to him. I’d only been dating him for a week and a few days. Things were getting seriously physically, of course, but he and were so far from being mentally compatible.
I didn’t want to be an idiot, but I could only go on what my heart was telling me to do. I knew I didn’t feel like that about Will anymore. I knew then and there my feelings had evaporated, but I wanted to be his friend. I wanted to know more about him, and I knew that if I were to reject him when he was this far down on the latter I’d regret it later. I needed to work him back up the latter to fulfill my dream.
We tried again. And yeah. The next day I broke up with him. A personal decision. He told me flat out that he felt weird dating me. I told myself it was for the better. That he and I weren’t right for each other. And that he was right, it did feel…weird. Awkward somehow. Early on I felt special whenever I got a message from Will. Later on, our second try, it felt weird to be with him after everything I’d gone through in the first place.
Being With Will was a test of self confidence. Did I trust myself in a potentially dangerous situation? Could I protect myself if it came down to it? Why of course not. Realizing the truth made it easy to let go of Will.
But of course, deleting him from my life wasn’t easy. A text of a simple, “Hey,” made things more complicated than I could’ve ever imagined. What did he mean, hey? Is it really that simple? Should I worry that I didn’t let him down easy? Didn’t I make it clear that I was over him? Was I really that inconsiderate?
He and I got back together only a week after being broken-up. Facing Amanda and Derek in school was worse than facing Dakota and Chris of every day of my high school life. Amanda knew what was going it happen before it happened. She predicted it, “He’s just gonna use you and bruise you.” And Derek, well…
I promised I’d explain him, didn’t i?
Derek isn’t pretty like the rest of them. He’s funny. Hilarious. He can make me laugh in the best of moods. I knew that must’ve been one thing that Amanda saw in him back in eighth grade. But Derek and I met in seventh. I wasn’t attracted to him then, I’m not attracted to him now. But Derek and I did a horrible thing.
Derek and I are on the same bus. One day after school, I got off the bus and i heard Derek exit the bus after me. He called for me to stop so he could walk with me, but I didn’t hear him. He caught up with me, either way.
“Hey, jerk. I know you’re busy, but can we talk?”
I nodded, turning into the development driveway. I walked toward my house in a slow pace, Derek beside me.
Derek followed me inside, and set his books on the table. Nothing cynical. He wanted to talk to me about Amanda’s upcoming birthday. “Let’s throw her a party.” He suggested.
I nodded, “Where?”
“How about my house? We can hang out around the pool.” Derek knew that Amanda and I had been in the YMCA swimming club since before we were two. We’d been swimming longer than we’d been talking.
I remember him suggested next that we needed a theme color. His suggestion was pink. “But my bathing suit is green,” I revealed.
He shook his head, “What about the one you wore on her birthday last year?” We’d been at her house, swimming all day.
I stomped up stairs, determined to find that pink suit. He stood in my doorway while I dug through drawers. In the top draw, left side under a sun dress was that pink suit.
“I think it’s too small.” I sighed.
He said, “Try it on.” He crossed his arms and then left.
I remember thinking that things were getting weird. But I knew Derek. He was in love with Amanda. He wouldn’t do anything with me. Or anyone else. He would never cheat on her—or would he? I wondered that while I stripped my clothes and put on the swim suit.
Surprise, surprise. It fit. Comfortably and tight in the same. I felt weird as I called him back, he’d been standing right beside the door, “Hey look, I was right.” he grinned.
“Yeah,” I nodded, “That’s great.” I smiled. I crossed my arms, waiting for him to get lost so I could get dressed again. But no. He actually stepped forward.
“Erika?” he sat down on the corner of my bed. “You know that when I started dating Amanda it was to make you jealous, right?”
I shook my head in disbelief. “Derek, get out.” I pointed.
He stood, and made his way to me. He put his hands on my hips without even thinking twice. I remember I was so surprised that I couldn’t think of what to do. I didn’t want to hit him, which would affect Amanda. I didn’t want to make him mad, I valued our friendship. I didn’t want to do anything I would regret either, I valued my friendship with Amanda far more.
I didn’t react while my head worked and Derek leaned in. His arms tightened around me and he began kissing me on my lips.
I remember the feeling. I enjoyed Kissing Will so much, but kissing Derek was different. Different in the security factor. I was dating Will at that point. I would never date Derek.
Things just sort of happened. If we had been any younger, any stupider things wouldn’t have gone as far as they did, but since we were almost sophomores, and we were really smart, things went as far as they could possibly go.
Maybe I should feel bad. Maybe I should worry about Amanda reading this. But I don’t. And I won’t. It’s the truth. If he won’t tell her and I can’t tell her…I have to have the truth in the open.
Will never found out that I cheated on him during our relationship. But after I was able to get away with sleeping with Derek, I felt like I owed Will a free shot.
I found him with a girl one night. When he saw me standing in the doorway just after turning the light on, I remember his face clearly.
He wasn’t shocked. He was utterly saddened as I bounded out of his house, got onto my moped and took the long way home.
Needless to say I had eight voicemail messages and about thirty text messages. All were from him telling me he’d made a mistake and that it would never happen again.
I knew I shouldn’t feel bad because I’d done the same thing with Derek. And Will hated Derek.
So I logged onto out video chat and I sat there. I sat silent for nearly thirteen minutes while he begged and pleaded for me to be the bigger person and forget about what happened. But no.
Sleeping with Derek was a test for me. If love wasn’t enough to keep me from sleeping with him, and love wasn’t enough for Will to sleep with her…we weren’t really in love and we were being stupid.
Perhaps we could’ve fallen in love in we had stayed together. But I wanted to fall in love with someone I could trust. If I took Will back for the third time, I’d never forgive myself. I wasn’t some girl he could go back to every few weeks. I didn’t want to be that girl. And in the end, I proved to myself that I was smarter than the average sophomore. I knew that if I wanted a real relationship in the future, if I wanted to find love, I needed to be able to love myself.
Truth is, I’ll always have feelings for Will. Always. Every guy I’ll be with, in the future, will always be compared to Will. He wasn’t perfect. But he made me feel great. Like something amazing. Something better.
So, to end this story I need to say to all the girls reading this…Don’t worry. It all gets easier with time. If you break up with someone or vice versa, immerse yourself in your writing, or your photography or anything that makes you feel great. That’s the only way for us to be ourselves, in the end.