I was 15
My sister Ellen, older by six years, had a college roommate with a brother. My age. He lived in a town about 30 minutes away.
His name was Paul.
I was 15 with all that entails.
My hair didn’t know if it wanted to be curly or wavy so it decided to just do both at random spots around my head. I was neither fat nor thin. I was tall but not overly so.
I had finally replaced my thick glasses with contacts. This did not make me see myself any clearer, however.
The insidious ball of insecurity that filled my very core blinded me.
I clung to the fringes of popularity, knowing my grip on even that was tenuous.
But here, here was an opportunity. Maybe, finally, I’d have what all my friends did: a boyfriend to call me, to go to the movies with, to like me.
And so the blind date was on. If you can call it a date; my sister and his sister were there, and also possibly my brother.
I was excited, a little jumpy, as I applied the lavender eyeshadow that made my eyes look more green.
Paul was nice. Quiet. He had dark hair and glasses. He was taller than me. He was a talented artist.
He didn’t fit what I thought he needed to. I wasn’t sure he was “cool” enough for me, he wasn’t a jock, and I didn’t think he’d help push me into the popular group if I brought him around.
Not, “He’s really sweet, I should get to know him better.” No. At this age, at this time, it wasn’t about my own self, it was about the self I wanted to be. I simply shut down. Because the thing about insecurity is it closes you up. Everything is framed around a certain ideal, and if a boy didn’t fit that imagined criteria, he had no chance. I needed someone to elevate me because I couldn’t figure out how to do it on my own.
We went to Friendly’s for sundaes that night. I had my favorite: pink peppermint ice cream drowning in butterscotch sauce. I spooned every last bit from the bottom, where your spoon barely fits and only the tip gets coated in gooeyness.
And then I felt it.
My intestines started to cramp, from nerves, from the huge dose of dairy and sugar, and I ran to the bathroom. Where I spent the next FORTY-FIVE minutes, while everyone waited patiently outside.
Yeah. Walking back out was, um, mortifying.
That was the last time I saw nice, quiet, artistic Paul.
Shocking, I know.
I can talk about the date and laugh. I mean, 45 minutes? Really? But now when I look back I also feel sad for that awkward teenager who was so scared about what someone else would think she didn’t put much time into what SHE thought.
I’m not saying Paul was my soulmate.
But I never gave myself the chance to find out.
This post is inspired by the prompt “Memorable date” from Mama Kat’s writers workshop.