It was in late 2003 that I developed a monster-sized crush on a boy named Tim. (His name has been changed to preserve anonymity; however, if “Tim” doesn’t figure out he’s “Tim” by the end of this blog post, I’m not a very good writer.) I was 14 and a freshman in high school, and Tim was a sophomore and one year older. He wasn’t your classic high school heartthrob, he wasn’t a football player, nor did he have the best grades, but Tim was an actor. He was a very, very good actor.
I’d been eye-ing Tim for a few days before we ended up sitting next to each other at the annual fall recital for my high school’s dance department (I went to a performing arts high school, hence the absence of football playing men and prominence of drama – both real-life and acted.) I spotted him in the auditorium just before the show was about to start and found myself seated next to him as the curtains began to open. If I’d had any doubts that Tim was the “one” I would pick to be object of my undying affection, it was what happened next that sealed the deal. As I looked beside me at Tim, he looked down at his program and saw that one of his favorite songs, “Crazy on You” by Heart, was the soundtrack to the first performance:
“Ah, this song has the best guitar intro,” he whispered as he tilted his head backward and took in each strum. I watched him as he inhaled this song I hadn’t heard before and found myself wanting to know every song he’d ever heard. He was like no one I’d ever met, and I was somewhere between wanting to be with him and wanting to be just like him. I knew he was in awe of the music, but I was convinced he was the real rock star. I didn’t know who Heart was, but I knew mine was in some serious trouble.
I raced home that night and downloaded the song before my mom even had time to tell me she needed the computer first. I listened to the guitar intro over and over, thinking about Tim and how perfect he was, wanting know more about his favorite kinds of music. For months after that I would chat with Tim over AOL Instant Messenger, pretending to know all of his favorite bands and posting lyrics to his favorite songs in my away messages. I would go back and forth every other week (sometimes every other day) between being “in love” with Tim and viscerally hating him.
Tim led me on to the point of no return, but had a girlfriend all the while. I hadn’t seen enough episodes of Sex and the City yet to understand what a dead end street this actually was, so instead, I was starring in the Taylor Swift music video “You Belong With Me” and dreaming of the day Tim would come to his senses, turn around and ask me to be his girlfriend instead. Genius plan, I know, but I was merely taking the advice of all the pop queens before me.
In my moments of “visceral hatred” toward Tim, I would passionately take a stand and delete my entire iTunes library as most of the songs in it were his influence. I got rid of all the songs I never would have known about if it hadn’t been for Tim, but I never deleted my favorite: “Crazy on You.”
Of course, Tim and I did not end up together. Around the end of my freshman year, he finally broke up with the girl he’d been seeing and was “ready” to date yours truly, but I decided to move on the moment I found out he was available. He’s actually married now, and I’ve lived about 259 lives since my freshman year of high school, but “Crazy on You” has still managed to hold it’s place in my iTunes library. Tonight, it came on shuffle and took me my surprise – just like that, I was 14 again.
I couldn’t believe that moment was 10 years ago, but at the same time, I couldn’t believe it was only ten years ago. How was I only 14 ten years ago??? I was (am) at a loss for words.
At the risk of sounding a bit too much like Carrie Bradshaw, I got to thinking. I got to thinking about how fast growth happens but how slow it can feel when it’s actually happening. Perhaps for all the times I’ve feared I wasn’t striding forward at a quick enough pace, I was moving forward much more quickly than I realized. Perhaps in my moments of discontentment with where I am today and why I’m not somewhere further down the road, I can remember it was just a mere ten years ago that I was Googling Led Zeppelin lyrics and using them in my AOL away message to impress a boy (I mean, we didn’t even have Facebook back then – that’s saying something.)
I’ve come a long way since 2003, and I’ve actually come a long way since yesterday, too. When it comes to taking account of where I am, the most valuable tool at my disposal might just be taking account of where I’ve been. In any given moment, I’m sitting somewhere far down the tracks from where I was sitting before.
And if I’m really looking to know what’s ahead, it’s actually the looking back that shows me how very much I have to look forward to. I mean, if we were all using AOL but ten years ago, I imagine there must be infinite possibilities awaiting us all in the next ten.
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More by Laura Max Nelson:
Why I Choose the Solo Life, For Now
Romantic Failure Doesn’t Make You Any Less Perfect
How to Deal When You’re Outside of Your Comfort Zone