Claire, 28, Teacher
I still remember my 7th grade crush’s phone number by heart (in fact, I suspect it might still be accurate—the notion that he’s still living in his parents’ house in suburban Georgia really isn’t too far-fetched). I made it my habit to scribble in my spiral-bound journal exactly what he was wearing (red Converse, Jim Morrison t-shirt, baggy jeans <3 <3 <3) after I inevitably “ran into him” at the town square each Friday night. I followed him around at football games, drew stick figure pictures of us kissing during Earth Science, and felt my first real pang of heartache when he made out with my cousin one (devastating) night.
Whenever Edward tossed me so much as a sideways glance or a nod of recognition, I felt as if he’d bestowed upon me the most lavish gift—his attention!—and I responded as any legitimately lovestruck pre-teen would: I dug deeper into the trenches of my obsession. I sat on my parents’ fence after school and watched the cars go by, sure that eventually one of them would contain Edward—the dreamiest heartthrob any precocious-Courtney-Love-wannabe-12-year-old could imagine. I bought his favorite CDs and listened to them on repeat. I convinced the neighbor kid, who was on Edward’s brother’s soccer team, to provide me with any details he knew about their family, cause when you are a freakishly obsessed 7th grader, the minutia are clearly most important—What kind of cereal do they eat? What’s their dog’s name? (General Lee, by the way, was their dog’s name. Which should have been my first red flag).
Like that of any tragic romance, my love for Edward was unrequited. During that liminal year of junior high, I developed some seriously destructive habits that would take well over a decade to break: amateur stalking (thank heavens Facebook didn’t exist in 1993), waiting weeks, months, even years for the object of my affection to decide he loved me back, making excuses for the poor (read: dismissive) behavior of my beloved. How was it that I didn’t know about female empowerment? What on earth happened to my dignity?
Perhaps most importantly: Why did it take so many years to eradicate these behaviors I perfected so well during my Year of Loving Edward?
Edward I want my pre-adolescent dignity back.