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The Summer before I began my first year of middle school was probably the most stressful time of my life. The entire time, I was filling my brain with patronizing blog posts of what to expect, stressing over the idea of having more than one teacher, and fretting over whether or not recess was still going to be a thing, which, by the way, it was, but there was no playground. They just let us play on a small ass field once a week for fifteen minutes. Fun, I know.
On the first day of school, I walked into my first period class and took a seat at the very back, not because I was some delinquent who wanted to dick around without the teacher noticing me, but because I was shy as hell and preferred to lay low. I sat there for a while, ignoring everyone else as they took their seats and squealed over friends they haven’t seen all Summer (By the way, if you’re currently in middle school or high school, let me tell you a mind blowing fact… you can see your friends DURING the Summer! You don’t have to wait until school starts again! Crazy, right?!).
I pretty much kept my head down the entire time, but there was one thing that finally made me look up. I felt someone take the seat right next to me, probably because every other seat was taken, and when I turned my attention to them, I won’t lie, my heart felt like it was trying to break my fucking ribcage and my skin felt increasingly uncomfortable to be in. The person who sat next to me was a boy, and he was, in my mind, the most attractive human being I have ever seen in my entire life. I use to feel embarrassed for having such a strong reaction, but I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. I was only 12.
I remember taking small peeks at this dude, not wanting to straight up stare at him because I didn’t want him to think I was creepy, and when the teacher started calling role, I finally got a name to go with the face.
I developed my first crush on a boy named Chris.
From that day on, I craved any kind of interaction with him. It was honestly a problem. I sat by him at lunch, knowing he would pay no attention to me and just talk to his friends. I asked him for paper, pencils, and pens when I had my own paper, pencils, and pens. I gave him anything from my lunchbox he wanted, nothing was off limits to him. There were days where I didn’t eat because I wanted to make sure he got everything he wanted. I rationalized this way of thinking as, “He may not want it now, but he might want it later.”
Words cannot describe how deeply I felt for this guy. I determined whether or not I had a good day by how much attention he gave me, and I use to go into periods of deep sadness whenever he got a girlfriend. This may not be a huge shock to you at this point, but I honestly thought I was in love in with him.
My feelings lasted all throughout sixth grade and well into the seventh before I came to a depressing conclusion: Chris would never feel for me what I felt for him. However, those feelings changed when Molly, an old friend of mine, told Chris that I liked him.
At first... I. Was. Pissed.
That was the first time I felt betrayed by someone I considered a friend, and I can’t explain how hurt I felt. Of course she had good intentions, but it was still a shitty thing to do, so when she reported back to me on what his response was, I honestly didn’t even want to hear it. In my mind, I knew what his response was. I knew he told her something to the effect of, “Why on God’s green Earth would I date her?!”
But shockingly, that wasn’t his response.
Molly looked smug as she told me Chris thought I was ‘hot’ and wanted to ask me out ‘tomorrow during lunch.’ My anger was swiftly replaced by excitement, happiness, hope, literally every single positive word you can think of. A huge smile completely ate up my face. I was practically vibrating. My heart was doing backflips inside my chest. I felt hot and cold at the same time. The joy I felt was unparalleled by anything else. I was finally going to be Chris’ girlfriend.
When my mom picked me up from school, I told her everything. I never told her how much I liked Chris, but she knew I felt something for him. The longest I’d go without mentioning him had to be three days, five days tops. I was the most annoying person in the world when it came to this guy, but I couldn’t help it. I was a child 'in love.'
The next day, the day I had already deemed the highlight of my entire existence, I took an extra long shower, got dressed in a really cute outfit I picked out the night before, and, for the very first time, put on some makeup (It wasn’t anything crazy, just some lipstick and eyeshadow).
When I came to school, Molly found me in the hallway and asked, “Are you ready?”
I nodded because I was too ecstatic to speak. I had butterflies in my stomach for the entire day leading up to lunch, and when someone would ask me why I was so jittery, I’d smile so proudly and say, “Chris is asking me out today.” They’d express their happiness for me because my feelings for him weren’t exactly… well hidden.
11:55 came and I couldn’t have been more excited. Molly and I practically ran to the lunchroom. When we got there, I took my usual seat next to Chris and waited… and waited… and waited.
I waited until lunch was five minutes from ending. When I looked at Mallory, who looked just as confused as I was, she cleared her throat and asked Chris, “Is there something you wanna say to Summer?”
He looked genuinely confused for a moment until realization hit him. He looked at me and hit me with a few words that felt like punches to my abdomen.
“I was just playing. I don’t like you.”
The first time he said “I don’t like you,” I felt like I was stabbed, but I did a good job of keeping a straight face.
But… he just kept saying it.
“I don’t like you. I don’t like you. I don’t like you.”
Around the fifth or sixth time, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. It was just too much. He already stabbed me, but for some reason, he felt like he had to twist the knife, and after he was finished talking to me, he turned to his friends and explained the whole situation to them as if it was the funniest thing in the world. He didn’t even have the decency to humiliate me out of earshot. I wanted to get up, run to the bathroom, and bawl my eyes out, but I knew that would only attract more attention to me. I just continued to sit there and ignore the world around me.
When my mom picked me up, I refused to talk to her about what happened, and when I got home, I wiped off my makeup, changed into my night clothes, and cried into my pillow for two hours straight.
I was experiencing my first heartbreak.
After spending an entire weekend engorging myself and acting as if the end was near, I was forced to face reality once again on Monday. Not much changed from that day on, Chris still talked to me, but only if he wanted something, and I still had a major crush on him... but guys started asking me out as a joke.
This went on until middle school ended.
The first time it happened, I felt a little bit better about the Chris situation and was seconds away from saying “Sure, I’d love to go out with you”, but before I could do that, the guy laughed in my face and walked away to laugh with his buddies who were watching just a few feet away.
Around the sixth or seventh time, I started getting use to it. In fact, I started laughing with them. I figured they’d stop if they thought it didn’t affect me.
It astounds me how this is still something I find myself thinking about from time to time, especially since Chris, Molly, and everyone else involved most likely don’t even remember it.
I remember, though, and the wound it left on my self esteem is still scabbing up.