I was having random thoughts this morning, and one of the things I thought about was my ‘first love’. I’m not talking about crushes, although this might have started out as a crush. I had my first crush in Kindergarten. I’m not sure if that’s ‘normal’ or not, but it’s true. His name was ‘Brion’ spelled with an ‘o’. I’ve never really understood some parents’ desire to make their children ‘unique’ by spelling their names wrong. I mean, everyone’s different because that’s how the human race works, so why make the poor kid weird [and his/her name impossible to spell] or make yourself look like you can’t spell.
You know what’s weird, though? I picked the spelling “Michaela” because the name itself is a feminine form of Michael, and that’s what I was going for. I didn’t want to do phonetic spelling, like Makayla or some such. And you know what? Nobody ever spells her name right. They get it when I say ‘It’s Michael with an ‘a’ on the end.’ [well, usually].
So anyway, my first crush was named Brion. Brion moved away in the third grade or so. My second crush was named Aaron. Aaron moved to our school in the fifth grade, and it was kind of the thing to have a crush on the ‘new guy’ so I did. There might have been other crushes between Brion and Aaron. I remember having a couple of crushes on girls, believe it or not, but I didn’t imaging smooching with them. Mostly, I just thought they were really pretty and wanted to be their friend [pitiful, eh?]. I think some part of me wanted to be close to pretty girls in the hope that their prettiness would rub off on me.
I was a scrawny little shit, and people took savage pleasure in telling me how ugly I was every chance they got, so I ended up with a pretty damaged self-image. I wasn’t nearly as ugly as I thought I was, but it doesn’t really matter anymore. I was also ridiculously shy, and I can’t help but wonder if they were related. In any case, I never told any of my crushes that I liked them. As an adult, I’ve seen what a kid looks like when they have a crush, so I know it was painfully obvious to anyone with eyes and half a brain, but I was blissfully ignorant of my unconscious advertisement of unrequited love.
So anyway, my crushes weren’t just a couple of months and then move on to someone else. These things lasted years. Sometimes I would have mini-crushes, but for the most part, there was one guy that I liked, and that was it. I think my crush on Aaron lasted five or six years. It’s funny, though, because when I got older, I actually got to know him, and suddenly, my crush was gone. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? I see now that my imagination supplied his personality, and my imagination was a whole lot better than reality back then [maybe because I hadn’t experienced much in relationships that was real, and so didn’t know that my imaginings were unrealistic. When I finally learned that fact, it was both a relief and a disappointment].
So the last one, the one where I actually knew the guy and was friends with him before having a crush on him, was actually the first guy I ever fell in love with.
His name was David. I called him David, Davy, Dave, and often there were other nicknames, like ‘Dumbfuck’, ‘Dipshit’, and ‘Dumbass’. They all fit, because he was an arrogant, annoying, infuriating person, and I took great pleasure in insulting him because he needed his head punctured on a fairly regular basis.
Dave and I had been friends/enemies for a long time. We had gone through school together, from Kindergarten through high school, and we went through stages of friendship and dislike for each other the whole time. David used to call me for answers on homework, and I’d give them to him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t smart enough to do it on his own, it was just that for Dave, it was always more fun [although it was also often more work in the long run] to figure out a way to get school work done without having to actually do it himself.
This was back in the days before cordless phones, and I remember him telling me that he was riding his bike in circles in the garage, while talking on the phone with me, because his dad had an extra long cord on the phone in the garage. Davy was always a cutie, but he was also a trouble maker. One of our principals said he was ‘a-moral’ which is probably a misnomer, but his point was that Dave had no conscience.
I have my doubts that was actually the case, but I know that he had no problem stealing, fighting, faking injuries to get insurance money, and throwing hammers at cars as they were careening at about 80 miles an hour down the highway. I think maybe he had ADHD and was a typical selfish kid with a natural inability to think about the consequences of how his actions might affect someone else. I think he had less parental supervision, and he was naturally a risk-taker, so he did stupid stuff.
I was the exact opposite, in a way. My mom was distinctly overprotective, and my dad was instinctively fearful of most things, so I caught all of that fear and doubt, and it pretty much kept me from doing much risk-taking until I graduated from high school and was mostly on my own. I kind of had an overactive ‘consequence’ meter, and it would often tell me the most outlandish and unlikely and horrible possible consequence of my action, which kept me from doing much.
Ironic that it might have saved my life at some point, but stifled it as well. I’m not sure that a long half-life is better than a short, full one.
So anyway, one day, Dave and I were good friends, the next, something shifted for me, and I wanted more than friends. David never did. He lied to me once or twice and told me he did, but I think it was just a manipulation tactic.
I don’t know how to do anything halfway [all or none, baby] so when I was in love with David, it kinda consumed me. I see now that I was never actually in love with Dave for who he was at the time [he was a big jerk, truth be told] but in his potential. I knew there was something good in him [and I still believe that’s true] and I knew that if he could focus that ridiculous energy and brain power toward something constructive, there’d be no stopping him.
So I encouraged him, and I tried to make him see that I believed in him and that I thought he could do anything. I was one of those annoying girls who thinks, “If I can just love him enough, he’ll change.” Yeah, well anyway, I was 17. And David taught me what a lie that was, and I think I deserve some freaking kudos for learning it before I was old enough to drink, don’t you? He never changed, at least not while I knew him.
But you know, I did learn a lot from David. I learned how to encourage people and really believe in them. If it hadn’t been for that fact, Steve might not be the wonderful man [as in, almost perfect] he is today [because he needed someone to believe in him and build him up, and he accepted that from me and used it to change himself…I think Stevie is a bit unusual in that, because most people refuse to change, even when they know they’re completely screwed up and wrong].
I also learned that I can’t change anyone. I can offer them tools to change themselves [sometimes] but ultimately, they’re the ones who have to do the changing. I learned that I deserved better [lots better] than what he was capable of giving me [manipulative friendship was about all he could handle. As long as he was getting more than he was giving, it was a good day for David]. I kinda learned a bit about unconditional love, though, too. Not love as in God’s love for us, but human love [which isn’t really unconditional, but can feel that way sometimes].
I was able to give to him because I cared, not because I expected anything in return, and I remembered how that felt and still try it from time to time to this day.
Of course, there was quite a bit of hurt and pain involved, too. I wanted him to love me back, as a ‘girlfriend’, and he never did. I think maybe I was one of those girls who make a good wife, but not a good girlfriend. David was 17 and 18 during this time, he wasn’t ready to have a wife yet [I was too young, too, but if he’d asked, I’d have said yes]. What was I thinking?!?
Still, I do make a good wife, and I didn’t make a good girlfriend, and it all worked out for the best.
I should tell you that when I was thinking about writing this, I had lots of stuff I was going to say, and then fatigue hit like a ton of bricks, and the second half of this was written in a semi-comatose state. So I apologize if I don’t make any sense.
I still dream about David from time to time, though, which is a little weird. We’re often in high school again. I used to forget about Steve and the kids, but the past few times I’ve dreamed about him, I’ve remembered that I’m married in the dream [and actually stayed faithful]. It’s weird to be in high school and married with three kids, lemme tell you!
Anyway, when I wake up after I dream about him, I always pray for him, where ever he is. Last I heard, he’d moved to KC somewhere. I hope he is happy and always ask God to keep him safe.
I think I was pregnant with Matthew the last time I actually saw him. Steve was driving, and Shaya was in her car seat, and I was about six months pregnant. Steve knows Davy was my first love, so it’s always a bit surreal when they meet. Now when I see Dave, the sadness and feeling of loss I used to have is gone, and I feel only a laughing fondness for my old school friend.
I also feel incredibly grateful for the man I married. David will always have a special place in my heart because he was a part of my life for so long, but I have no regrets about how things turned out. Steve is almost freaking perfect, and maybe I see him that way because I’m partly in love with his potential, but I’m okay with that. I also love who he is right now, and that’s why I have no regrets, because Steve is already better than I deserve, and if he gets better…wowee, an added bonus!
I think I have to sleep now. Good grief.