He was my first teenage irrational object of devotion, a carpooling classmate whose dad was friends with my dad and taught there, whose little brother I tutored, and I guess he wasn't cool either, but I knew I definitely wasn't and I'd read Pride and Prejudice for the first time and imagined me as the smart chica and him as the strong silent type who'd someday let me know I was way cooler than the other girls. That never happened. I transferred schools a few more times, dealt with other sundry drama involving being a possible lesbian and a potential school shooter. Thank God these days are fifteen years behind me.
I started playing guitar in part because he played guitar and because my dad had some nice ones laying around. I don't think he ever learned that, and when the inevitable rush of teenage crush died, I forgot about him but I kept playing guitar, I started wearing more black, I made friends for whom my religion wasn't weird because they were into weird religious ideas too mostly inspired by Max Cavalera primitivism and Aleister Crowley and we could all be weird together and argue and listen to punk rock. I realized when I got older that even most people who seem normal are weird in their own way, and adulthood's been infinitely more awesome with that revelation.
And then I see him at a party for a family friend, the last place I'd ever thought I'd run into him. He looks pretty much the same but with a little bit of silver in his hair. He asks me what I've been up to and I say something superficial like work, college radio, softball and it's so clinical, this small talk and I'm not used to interacting like this so I stop there because I know there's not much potential for a conversation that will mean anything.
I know he's gotten divorced. I don't know if he knows I've gotten arrested. Neither of us brings these things up. He says some things that make me realize that we have nothing in common because no guy friend of mine would ever mention 'working out' on things that have really been awesome in their life recently or talk about how amazed they are that some person a few decades our senior could be "cool" or "interesting."
We cross paths a few more times and it's the same kind of thing. I don't feel any of the insecurity and inadequacy I once did, I have no spark of what-could-have-been, just a sense of strange relief that somehow despite the stupidity, I can at least say I've come far from where I've been and that where I am now is probably better and that I'm incredibly thankful that all my teenage daydreams came to nothing.