The First Time I… Realized If I Didn’t Grow Up, The Boys Never Would Either
When I was six-years-old, I used to wake up and run into my mothers’ bed every morning. She always let me lay on her side, even if I could only just squeeze my small frame onto the mattress while my dad still slept on the other. I would come with the same repetitive message every day, “Mommy, I never want to grow up. I don’t want to leave you.” With me under her arm, she would always reply “I know, but one day you won’t be saying that.”
When I was six, I thought that growing up meant I would go to high school, then go to college, then get a job and then get married and then have kids of my own and move far away from my parents. A good portion of this simplified life list went according to plan. The other half seems only possible in another more romantically generous lifetime. All of it, however, is not guarenteed. When you’re suddenly not six years old you realize that this not a list of obligations, but better yet, a list of suggestions.
The first time a boy had a crush on me, the worst decision I ever made was giving him my house phone number. He called every day after school, and I would pick up, even though I absolutely did not reflect his admirations in the slightest. At first, I thought maybe I could because a boy had never told me that he wanted to “kiss me” before, so that had to mean something. But when the phone calls continued relentlessly, I began to lose appreciation for his devotion. I even tried hanging up on him to which he simply called back, ignoring my failed attempts. I didn’t understand how to simply tell someone “I don’t like you” without sounding harsh. It’s like finding a softer way to say someone is dead, when in reality, no matter how you phrase it, the person is dead. I eventually came to the conclusion that if I didn’t grow up and deal with the way I felt, he never would either, no matter what kind of unadulterated attention I would lose. I told him the truth, and the calls stopped.
After being with my boyfriend in my first committed monogamous relationship for nearly three years, I knew I had to leave him. I had to find my own place in the new space I was living in, and I had to see if another boy might better suit my naïve perception of the direction I felt my life was going in. I had to know if there was someone more well equipped to accompany me in finishing off this list of life suggestions. Discovering the answers to these only meant breaking his heart and I couldn’t imagine doing that to someone who had only been there to mend mine. I first told him, in an untimely manner, that I wanted to “take a break” right before he was flying out to LA to see me. I caved and we resorted to old habits for the weekend. I then told him again when he planned to move even farther from me that we probably wouldn’t last and I stamped the seal when he finally asked me what I really wanted and I had to reply “to move on.” I knew if I didn’t stop sucking on the metaphorical binky that was the comfort of our relationship, I would consequently stunt both of our growth.
Twenty-years-old, and in the midst of the first emotionally turbulent mess I had yet to involve myself in, I still waited for him to kiss me in the backseat of my car in the Trader Joes parking garage. I still let him tell me that he loved me. I still let him kiss my inner thigh and I still let that undeniable heat shoot through the rest of my body. Even when I heard the very next day of the other girl he was arguably still seeing, I allowed that all too familiar numbness to envelop my heart in a way that I hoped would hold it together for at least the remaining hours of the day. When we laid next to each other in the backseat, we laughed at how consistently stupid we were and would probably continue to be. We laughed at our immaturity and at the fact that maybe if we just put our egos away and grew up a little bit, maybe things could be great. We laughed at the fact that as full grown adults, we were still two teenagers laying in the backseat of a car, not even fucking.
There are so many things I don’t want to do. I don’t want to take the trash out where I have just thrown out food that I made two weeks ago, never ate and has consequently soiled. I don’t want to do the dishes which have once again routinely climbed well past the kitchen sink walls. I don’t want to make myself dinner even if that only means literally boiling a pot of box pasta. I don’t want to clean my room which is now suffocating under piles of unnecessary clothing. I don’t want to accept the reality that the “boy” I love might only be expressing disgenuine feelings to reciprocate my genuine ones. I don’t want to accept the fact that even if they are genuine, he’s probably not grown up enough to turn them into actions. I don’t want to grow up.
It came to fruition this time that simply because he doesn’t have to grow up, doesn’t mean I possess this same illegitimate privilege. Simply because a boys’ ego needs to be spoonfed doesn’t mean that I have to be the one to airplane that shit into his gaping mouth. Before I even took the time to lock him into a highchair, I was forced to remember that my feelings needed just as much, if not more, attending to. If I didn’t attend to mine, he would in turn never attend to his, and this childish cycle would continue to repeat itself until I was once again left on my bedroom floor, crying to my mother on the phone, “I don’t want to grow up.” I had to grow the fuck up.
There’s a first time for everything, and I don’t just mean your “first time.” Of course, there’s vital, “right of passage” first times that everyone must encounter at some point, for example, moving to a new place, getting your heart broken, and making your first humiliating, drunk decision. Yet first times are imperative to the better (or often, identical) mistakes we’ll make later, and teach us the lessons that we’ll continue to not learn from. Every week, we’re going to be telling real first time stories from real girls, and that includes everything from celebrity house parties to Instagram marriage proposals.