Arithmetic

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Mignon McLaughlin, whose wisdom I love, once said that “in the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.” But I like to believe that one plus one-half can equal just enough.
I tried dabbling in the dating game when I was fourteen. It didn’t end too beautifully. I spent my sophomore year alone. From somewhere, I scared up the courage to ask a boy to Sadie’s when I was a junior, but he politely declined, explaining that he didn’t frequent dances.
My defeat, combined with my best friend’s acquisition of a boyfriend the same week, spurred me to action – or rather, to the contrary.
I decided one night that I didn’t care anymore. I was sick of wearing myself out over the high school love game. I had too much to do, too many places to go and people to be when I got there, to bother about it anymore. I decided I would not give another flying marshmallow about love until it came and hit me in the face. If someone wanted me, I said, he could come get me, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
My next idea was inspired by something my best friend had done in the eighth grade, although she’d kill you if she knew I told you this. I made up a boyfriend for myself. He was completely imaginary, and of course I created him to be perfect for me.
Over the days after my big decision, I felt strangely better. I was freer around people. I laughed and talked and socialized with fewer inhibitions than I had had in years. And because I didn’t speak to a boy and watch him speak back thinking, “Ooh! Does he like me?”, I wasn’t worried about it.
I didn’t care. It was a beautiful feeling.





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