The Four Boys I Almost Loved (And The One I Did)

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I thought that I loved the first boy. Wasn’t everyone supposed to fall in love with the first person they dated? He walked me home, he kissed me like I was his air supply, and he noticed me when no one else did. I convinced myself that I loved him, something that terrified me just as much as it thrilled me. But when I finally said the words I felt immediately crushed by the weight of them. I assumed that was just what love felt like; love had always been such an abstract idea to me that I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. I was so desperate to just be in love that I tried to force that feeling on him and on me. Had I given us time to grow as a couple I may have loved him. But my younger self was intent on diving in headfirst so now we’ll never know.

***

I wanted a chance to love the second boy. I’m not sure he knows how badly I wanted that. Or maybe he did, I never could be sure with him. His presence warmed my whole body and the slightest glance in my direction made my heart flutter. Somehow he became everything I had ever wanted, but I was too shy to ask him to be mine. We danced along that invisible string between friendship and something more. We held hands, we watched the sun set on an isolated chunk of beach, and we each said a lot of things. I believed in every word he said, I needed to. I needed to believe that I wasn’t wasting my time. To believe that we could have everything I wanted. I know I could have loved him, I say that with absolute certainty. But I’m not entirely sure that he would have loved me back.

***

At a different time in my life I could have loved the third boy. Especially since it felt like all he wanted to do was love me. I wasn’t ready for it then. My heart wanted to be in love, but my head wanted to distance itself. I felt suffocated by the emotion, overwhelmed by the feelings I had brought out in this beautiful boy. He was so sure of everything, so sure of me… He was the first boy to buy me roses, he traveled through several states just to be with me, and we talked on the phone for hours on end. I could have played along but it didn’t seem fair. I couldn’t just keep holding onto him as I tried to figure out my feelings. He deserved a chance to find someone who could wholeheartedly love him. Because back then it couldn’t have been me.

***

I almost fell for the fourth boy. In fact he made it increasingly difficult not to fall for him. There was something about his eyes, and that lopsided smirk that turned my cheeks crimson when it was aimed in my direction. He was lightyears out of my league, yet for some reason he took up an interest in me. Before I even realized it he had gained my absolute trust. I told him my secrets as the sun came up, we saw each other for who we really are, and we genuinely liked being around each other. In some part of my subconscious I wanted to have more, I wanted to satisfy the feelings I tried to keep shoved below the surface. I’d like to say I know there could’ve been a happy ending in there somewhere. But if I’m being honest with myself I know that love was never an option for us.

***

And I love the fifth boy. He was an unexpected surprise in my life, and I think some of the best love stories happen that way. I didn’t expect to fall for him, he was practically the complete opposite of everything I had once looked for. But he won me over with his charm and his quick wit. A tiny crush spiraled out of control before I had a chance to catch my footing. He understands all my quirks, he makes me laugh, and he loves me exactly as I am. There were no games, there are no insecurities, and there is never any doubt. That’s what love is. Never stifling, always honest, never feared, always explored. TC mark

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