It really started out in 6th grade. I had just moved to Hong Kong, and I ended up at my first co-ed school. To say I was nervous about going to school with boys would be an understatement. I was TERRIFIED and incredibly insecure with my 11-year-old body. I didn’t know how to act around boys, but on my very first day of school I discovered what a “crush” was.
For the sake of this story, we’ll call this boy Alex. Alex, like me, was also one of the new kids at school. He was tall, handsome, and incredibly athletic. It’s safe to say I was in love with him all throughout middle school and up until high school.
Sophomore year of highschool, to my great delight and discomfort, we ended up being in 3 classes together. We grew very close, sharing notes and occasionally going to lunch together. But for the most part he’d go hang out with the cool girls while I stayed around my other friends.
It happened on a Friday, right after our Humanities class ended. I was walking out of the classroom and up the stairs with my friend Gabby when Alex’s best friend cheekily ran up behind me and whispered “I think Alex has a secret for you, but I’m not gonna give it away.”
“What secret?” I was equally shocked as I was curious. Alex’s friend and I rarely talked when Alex wasn’t around. I knew he was one to spread rumors, so I didn’t get my hopes up.
“Oh I can’t say, I think it’s best he tells you. It’s his to say not mine.”
At this point Alex came out of the classroom and saw us walking together.
“What are you guys talking about?” Alex asked, grinning as if he and Alex had rehearsed how this conversation would go.
“What secret is this that you have for me?” I asked Alex playfully. My heart was beating so fast and I could feel my face turning red. I desperately tried to play it cool but knew I wasn’t doing so well.
“Well I can’t say. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.”
“Just tell me!” I knew it sounded whiney but, at this point, I needed to know.
He blurted: “OK fine, I was going to ask you out!!!” His best friend giggled and anxiously glanced back to see my reaction as they both quickly walked off to grab lunch.
I froze on the stairs in disbelief. What had just happened? Did Alex finally say that he liked me? Did he really ask me out? Was that real? I didn’t know what to make of it.
Gabby grabbed my hand and said, “Come with me.”
She led me away from the cafeteria and straight to the very back corner of library stacks. She drew out her red notebook from her bag and noisily ripped out a piece of lined paper. She handed me a pen and laid belly on the floor.
“Ok. What the fuck just happened? I don’t even know. What I do know is that pros and cons lists help me figure out things. So let’s make one. I don’t want you making any rash decisions right now.”
I titled the lined paper “Alex” and wrote a list of pros and cons of this guy I had been in love with for the previous 4.5 years. Pros: Really smart. Plays on the varsity sports team. Super cute. Great relationship with his mom. Cons: Could be a dick. Annoying friends. Only talks about his mom.
We didn’t get very far with the list in the end but we rolled on the floor laughing at what we had come up with (quietly of course, because we were in the library). When the next week rolled around I quickly discovered that he showed up to school with an “Official Girlfriend.” Although I was expecting some kind of confrontation from him Monday morning, I saw him walk into first period holding hands with one of the pretty girls from his group.
I was hurt and confused. I was played, HARD. My emotions were totally wrecked for weeks to come.
That being said, looking back, this was one of my fondest girl-bonding memories to date: laying with Gabby on our bellies in between the library stacks, hiding from other students and teachers while analytically drawing up bullet points to weighing the pros and cons of a boy.