Once again, thanks to Meld Magazine and my editor for publishing this story!
ON the eve of Valentine’s Day, Meld columnist Marcella Purnama revisits her teenage infatuations and realises her memories, good and bad, are all still crystal clear.
I was 13, still thin with no flabby arms and a tanned complexion from playing in the sun too much. My friends and I, with a few teachers, were enjoying a vacation at the beach to celebrate the completion of another successful school sports competition.
We played in the swimming pool and then the four of us went to the beach to taste the salty water. It was the first time the guy I liked held my hand, and even though I don’t remember how it physically felt, I remember being happy and stressed at the same time because two of my good friends liked him too… a lot.
Can I remember my first crush?
Yes, it was all the way back in fourth grade primary school. I don’t remember how I came to like him, but I remember that I used to stalk him, literally. I would look at him every chance I got, and then try to look away before he noticed a pair of eyes was watching him. I couldn’t help it, there were no Friendster, Facebook or even Twitter to make my stalking invisible.
The next time I liked a guy, I was in sixth grade. He was two years older than me, tall, skinny, pretty attractive and infatuated with basketball. We met at a youth group and he asked my sister for my phone number. Six months later he moved to Australia to continue his studies and I remember giving him a red t-shirt as a farewell gift.
Now that I think about it, my infatuation sounds a little bit stupid. He called me from overseas once, but the call was the last time I heard his voice. We met several years later at a wedding and, oh boy, it was awkward. But we all do stupid things when we’re young and in love, don’t we?
During junior high school, I made my first heart-shaped Valentine’s Day chocolate and gave it to the guy who first held my hand. He told me it was delicious, but I still don’t know if he was just being nice or really meant it. Oh well, I guess I’ll never know, but I do remember being disappointed that no one ever gave me a single red rose, something I’d dreamed about getting for years.
Moving on to senior high, these were the years when I made the most mistakes. I hurt three of my friends, and I know by the way they looked at me that I left a scar on each of their hearts. But I was blinded by another guy who captured my heart and threw it away for no reason.
He was younger than me, athletic, kind, funny, and I’d say, quite good looking. He had a bit of a temper, but back then, I didn’t think that mattered. He treated me the way I liked to be treated, but after six months, he was gone. I still don’t know why. He said there were no reasons for our separation, just lost feelings, but it shattered me. Hard. At the time, I thought I would never trust another guy, but I can tell you now, that wasn’t true. Time would heal any wound.
And just a couple of months ago I heard from him again. He apologised for what had happened. His call took me by surprise, but I was more surprised when I discovered that I had longed for those words. Until then, I hadn’t realised that the past still haunted me.
What happened during that brief love story is something I’m not proud of. Sure there are things I remember fondly, the Sweet 17 parties, prom night, graduation night, my first bouquet of flowers, love poems and those silly crying-till-you-fall-asleep nights. But I hurt three of my friends, giving them hope and stealing it back, and although we’ve apologised to each other and gone on with our lives, I still regret my actions sometimes, knowing that I should have been a better person.
I should have been, but I wasn’t, and I accept what now has become a part of me. I made some stupid mistakes, but without them, I mightn’t have learned to treasure love as I do know – for love, is a pure blessing.
We might look back now and recognise these feelings as youthful infatuations. But when you’re young and in love, puppy love does feel like the real thing.
Puppy loves do exist. But during those brief moments sometimes in the past, they might have been real. mp.