A Teenage Tragedy

I seriously, tragically misjudged how much I would relate to every Taylor Swift song at the age of 25. The truth is, I’m realizing while singing to “Treacherous” 3 times in a row, that I have a propensity for throwing my heart in the deep end. I close my eyes and listen to every song and I’m right back where it all happened- every jump, every flailing stroke, gasping for air with my chin barely above water.

Every time I get out.

Even with the memory of my cramping muscles and chest full of water, I always seem to find myself back in the deep end.

Like the years I spent pining for my high school crush.

The possibility of him  was everything to me once-until it wasn’t. He was the one who listened, the one who read my poetry and played me songs about angels, and he saw I was sad before I colored my hair and painted my nails black. Back then, I was afraid of jumping in the deep end. Heck, I was afraid of getting my toes wet- until I wasn’t.

Another boy played me another guitar in a different time and different state, but last week while I listened to a new song entirely, I thought about him again.

“I like him in a baseball hat.” That was my first thought. The second was, “I’m in love.” It wasn’t the romantic kind, or the one where I wanted to fill a two story house with three babies and a family cat. It was a midnight kiss on the island boardwalk- the one I gave him and he didn’t see coming. There was no future- only the one night and the memories. It was her and him in high school; he read her poetry and she read his and somewhere between algebra and geometry they fell in an innocent kind of love. That’s what I was feeling now- a simple wish so intense I couldn’t see past my fingertips.

The stars winked and watched as I stepped toward him, boardwalk planks whispering protest beneath my bare feet. A splinter snagged against my little toe. I reached out, hooked my finger through his belt loop, and pulled him close. 

“Do you really want to go your whole life not knowing what it’s like?” 

He blinked, confused, and I kissed him before he could tell me that no, he didn’t want to go his whole life. 

I smelled the salt on his skin, felt his hesitation. He was supposed to be untouchable- an infinite possibility. And I had dragged our daydream into reality. 

That’s what I felt the other night-this sense of possibility- a future undefined and undefiled. I hadn’t touched it yet, hadn’t let the story begin. He was standing in front of me, baseball hat tilted upward, running his hand across his beard. I was in love with the possibility of him- a first kiss he didn’t take, nights we hadn’t danced away. With that realization, I smiled, turned away, and left the beginning standing there staring in a white T-shirt and flat billed ball cap.

So I don’t know, maybe this time I’ll stand here on the edge of the water.

Or maybe I’ll jump in.


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