What Your Playground Days Can Teach You About Love

In the third grade, a boy named Dan chased me around the playground every day for two weeks straight. He would run after me at full speed and have his friend Kaitlyn tell me that he wanted to kiss me and that he loved me. One day, he asked me to meet him at the top of “the hill.”

“The hill” is a term that refers to the infamous raised patch of land at the very back of the Paumanok Elementary School playground, just before the playground lawn turns into woods and fences and houses. The hill was a big deal in elementary school, and the thought of meeting a boy who I was not the slightest bit attracted to at the top terrified me. And so, I did the only logical thing that I could think to do, which was to run from him until recess was over and I could return to the safety of my classroom.

I couldn’t imagine what I would do or say if he caught me, and I couldn’t understand why he was chasing me, so I just kept running. One day near the end of that two-week period, Kaitlyn grabbed me and tried to drag me to the top of the hill. That was unpleasant and I did not appreciate it.

Thinking about it now, maybe my instinct to run had something to do with the fact that I’ve always had a difficult time seeing what it is that other people see in me. It’s not that I don’t think I’m pretty or smart or funny, because I do. I am happy with the way I look and I consider myself relatively intelligent and comical. I am happy with most aspects of who I am and with my accomplishments so far. But I’ve always wanted people to believe that I was perfect and flawless. When I successfully trick people into believing that my “perfect” facade is the reality, I start to feel insecure, because it’s not a reality.

And yet, at 8 years old, Dan saw something in me that I couldn’t quite see in myself, and he chased me. I pushed him away because I didn’t like him; I liked boys who paid no attention to me, because that’s just how it works.

But despite the fact that it was incredibly unpleasant, maybe I should have appreciated the fact that Kaitlyn grabbed me that day. Maybe sometimes we need someone to grab us, bring us to the top of that hill, and tell us there’s something about us that is different and special and important. Because how else are we supposed to know?

I kicked Kaitlyn repeatedly and eventually she set me free. I guess someone can’t make you see something that you don’t quite believe in.

I just couldn’t figure out why he was chasing me; why was it that he thought it was worth it to chase me around the playground every day? Why me and not some other girl? I couldn’t figure out what it was he saw in me.

I think I’ve run from every guy who has ever been seriously interested in me. I’ve always thought that the problem was with them, and they just weren’t attractive enough in my eyes. I thought that the guys who liked me were always the wrong ones. I believe this to be partially true. The guys who I am attracted to are never the ones who are interested in me. But maybe the other part of the truth is that I’m afraid that I don’t deserve their attention. I’m afraid that, once I get it, they’ll be disappointed. I’m afraid that, once they get to know me, they’ll decide that there’s nothing special and move onto the next girl. I’m afraid because the initial attraction so often seems to fade once they begin to really know me. I can’t understand what it is that they see in me when they barely even know me. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I run.

I’d like to think that at this point in my life I wouldn’t run anymore, but I don’t know that to be true. I’ve always thought that my pickiness was the reason for my pathetic relationship history, but maybe it’s not the only factor. Maybe I push people away, because I can’t figure out why they would want to come closer in the first place.

I broke Dan’s little eight-year-old heart and kicked Kaitlyn with my size three shoes. I guess anything that happens to me with regard to relationships now is karma’s way of getting back at me. TC mark

image – Terence Ong

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