For as long as I could remember, my romantic judgment has been flagged as slightly—if not entirely—questionable.
My string-of-romantic-interests were always emotionally unavailable or mentally unhinged; sometimes I got lucky with a lethal combination of both. The mere mention of these romantic prospects was often welcomed by a series of raised eyebrows, face-palms, and heavy sighs. But no worrisome reaction could keep me away; I had a radar for these dudes, a bionic sense of smell for these bros. They “understood” me in this visceral and intricate way, even though they were “so misunderstood” themselves.
My first boyfriend was no exception. While he was wrong for me in every capacity, he personified the 90s, and I realize that I thought this characteristic alone was enough to bypass the numerous warning signs. There is no other logical reason I can offer, and after I have conducted a thorough self-psychoanalysis, this is the most promising conclusion that my investigation has yielded.
Don’t believe me? Before you start to scoff, allow me to scratch the surface: he worshiped the band Primus, wore JNCO pants religiously, played bop-it, owned an old-school Nintendo console, sported dreads, and above all, didn’t have a cell phone (a HUGE deal circa 2005).
This is how I have come to rationalize my first quasi-relationship. To me, he was the 90s; an outlet to my childhood and decade that I have always possessed an inexplicable affinity for. I was enamored by his Kurt Cobain-rebellion, the way he would throw rocks at my second-story window to lure me outside, and how we would listen to alternative rock on repeat. His laid-back demeanor was so refreshing amidst the whiny “emo” tunes that polluted the sound waves. And while we’re on the subject, you can’t tell me that Green Day’s “Wake Me up When September Ends” is a symbol of enlightened musical progression when compared to their 90s classic “Good Riddance,” but that’s another story. Dating him was like dating a tall, scrawny, Colombian time machine; a portal to My So-called Life and MTV—when it was actually music television and not “T-Shirt Time.” If nothing else, that failed relationship serves as substantial evidence of time-travel capabilities. Don’t worry; I have considered sending my scientific findings to NASA, where I’m sure my empirical research will be respected and taken seriously.
It didn’t take long for 15-year-old me to be smitten by him and his faded band-tees. In typical commitment-phobe fashion, it also didn’t take him long to break my heart. Nostalgia has a tendency to over-sentimentalize the good memories and to gloss over the bad ones (re-read previous paragraph). I distinctly remember feeling immeasurably crappy afterwards, but I can’t grasp how I violently sobbed everyday for two months over someone that adult-me not only thinks of minimally, but would never date again. Ever.
Yet, I must say that every time I encounter something so quintessentially 90s (like the Power Rangers theme song via random bystander’s ringtone) I can’t help but feel a tinge of fondness over the boy who would skateboard to my house. He’s also not far from my thoughts when I witness Jordan Catalano bruise Angela Chase’s self-esteem with every impulsive decision he makes, to which I repeatedly say to myself “I’ve been there, girl.” Our union was a blunder-filled fiasco—but in many ways, so was the beloved era that I continue to cherish deeply.
And as I look back, I’m not so ashamed after all.