So I found this stack of letters I never sent from twenty years ago that appear to chronicle a month-long, rather one-sided relationship I had with a boy who may or may not have ever known that I thought I was in love with him.
This would be a good segue to explain why I cannot watch the show Hoarders, because while all of you sit back and judge and cluck and wretch, I am breathless with anxiety, clutching my throat, thinking, “How can they just throw out that entire box of old onesies without asking which five are the most important?! They don’t even know why she saved them! There’s a reason!”
But instead, since I’m going to just go ahead and hoard my hoarding confession, I figure I’ll post these letters. I can’t do them all in one post. They’re kind of lengthy, and… well, I think that would be too damaging for my self-esteem. That’s one thing I can’t seem to stockpile: dignity.
Here we go. Enjoy. All letters are typed exactly as written, typos and all.
1 Oct 1990
His smile. His hair. His weird, warped, twisted, beautiful personality. That’s how he will always live on in my mind. Forever.
As much as I know he’s right, I can’t bring myself to face reality. It’s over.
It might be important to note that I just realized who I’m writing about here and I think he and I dated for exactly eighteen hours. I cannot remember if we had a conversation about whether or not we were boyfriend/girlfriend, but I do remember him calling me to break up with me, and I’m guessing I hung up the phone and then immediately lunged for my notebook, in order to catch all of this fresh emotion.
It’s over. I keep telling myself this as I play our song over and over again —
U2’s “With or Without You.” NOT THAT IT MATTERS. Also: apparently he could, in fact, live without me. Immediately.
–as I wallow in my disgusting self-pity. I replay everything in my mind and I know that I did nothing wrong, he did nothing wrong. We just learned too much and too little about each other too fast.
That sounds like I had sex with this boy. I did not. I don’t think anything happened but like, a kiss? Maybe? Honestly, you guys, mostly I remember holding hands and listening to U2. And then a phone call the next day where he dumped me. Because we apparently had learned both too much AND too little about each other too fast. Like we’re Mickey and Mallory Knox or something.
But he said he cared. He said he’d never mess behind my back. Well, he did keep his promise.
Oh, a joke! Go, little heartbroken me.
And I kept mine. When he held my hand, I knew it was the start of something good — really good. Something real. Something that will last. Something…whole and massive and whirling and twisting and —
–passionate and beautiful and wonderful and exhilerating [sic] and hilarious and weird and giddy and tingly and estatic [sic] and there. I mean really there. He kissed without force, held me without domination.
Um… I… it sounds like he really didn’t want to kiss me, nor hold me. Maybe because it was the start of something “weird.”
He liked me. He liked me. He liked me. And for one miraculous weekend he was mine and I was his and we pledged eternal faithfulness and we laughed.
Awesome. Did we laugh because of the pledge? Did he pledge to be faithful and then bust out laughing and I was all, “Oh, now we are laughing together because LOVE IS SO ESTATIC”?
In case you’re wondering, the writer of this essay is fifteen years old.
We held each other. We shared numerous feelings and emotions: romance, fright, disgust, humor and wonder.
Behold. The actual moment when I became a Wonder Killer. See, you guys? You mock me, but it obviously comes from a very painful place. I hope you can find it within yourselves to apologize. And I will see if I have the strength to forgive.
Also, more than half of the numerous things we “shared” sound like they weren’t fun at all. I seem to have given this boy one really shitty weekend of virginal song-looping and maybe, I don’t know… scab-picking?
We knew each other — I thought. It felt so great having someone care about me, someone who picked me up when I fell–
–someone who wanted to be by my side instead of expecting me to do it without question. Someone who treated me as an individual and as a thing of beauty. Someone with common interests. Someone with common goals. Someone whom I respected and respected me. God, has anyone else ever felt like this or am I the only one with these feelings?
Wow. Okay, that sounds like you’ve found someone very special there, Little Pam. You’ve learned a lot about this boy, so for God’s sake, don’t go and do something stupid now, like learning too little!
He said he was serious. Serious about us. He said it, I heard him.
What possesses a boy to change his mind in the course of 24 hours?
Let me answer that one for you real quick like, Little Pam. YOU do.
He called me. Said he needed to talk. Said he thinks he’s tied down. Said he wants to be free. BE FREE?! Said he didn’t want to hurt me. Then he said the worst. The F-word. FRIEND! He said he liked me, but he didn’t want a girlfriend at the time. He said it’s going too fast for him — was it for me? And that he doesn’t really know me — do I agree?
It really seems like he let me down kind of easy, and even gave me a couple of ways that I could try and talk him into seeing me again for another day of finger-linking and Bono-singing. Not like my first boyfriend in the fifth grade, whom I’d only had one conversation with the entire time we were “going together,” who broke up with me by having Matt Fakes tell me at recess that my boyfriend didn’t think I was cute anymore and he wanted to go with somebody else.
Not that I hoard all of these memories. I could toss them at any time. But how could I know which ones will be important to you later? That’s right. I hoard for you. You’re welcome.
That’s the last I’ve spoken to him in 5 hours.
That’s my favorite sentence of this entire letter.
My heart aches at the loss. Then I thought of his words, “I hardly know you.” I thought about this. What was his middle name? What was his favorite movie? What kinds of books does he read?
Jesus, I am a NERD.
When did he start to like me? Why is he a grade younger than I am when he’s the same age?
What’s his favorite ice cream flavor?
“Gosh, I hope it’s Book, just like mine!!”
What classes does he take in school? What does he want to be when he grows up? When is his birthday? Is he a virgin?
Did I really know this person that I pledged eternally faithful to? If he didn’t know me, why did he care? Why did he want me as a girlfriend one day and a good friend the next?
WHAT DID I DO?
WHAT CAN I DO?
Boys are weird.
And thus began my legacy of pinpointing exactly what groups of people could be considered “weird,” but never really determining why.