Oh, the crush. It's an integral part of growing up, right? I can remember every major crush I had from elementary on up. As I've thought about each one and even read over some of my old diaries, I've noticed something rather interesting about my crushes.
For the longest time, I had crushes on boys I barely even knew. There was the beautiful older brother of my close friend, the cute boy who played trombone in band. I can't forget the totally hot guy in my 6th grade art class, with his long hair and upper lip mole. He was disgustingly hot. Too hot, and he knew it. Then came my streak of gorgeous older boys at church. I always crushed on the older guys. Sheesh.
Have you noticed yet that there's one theme?
Yeah...they were all "hot," however my teenage mind determined that. At the time, I remember being madly "in love" with these guys. I would watch them, more like stare at them anytime I had the chance. I would daydream about them talking to me, of the day they would finally notice my undying love and ask me out. I didn't know a single real thing about these guys outside of the obvious, and yet they were all my little hormonal mind could think about.
Because, really, that's what a crush is for a girl. It's the easier, less controversial way to say, "Every time I see that boy I want to do things I shouldn't be thinking about." Like kissing. Oh, the scandal.
(Side note: This is also why it kind of pisses me off when people rag on books where the girl is only attracted to the guy because he's hot. Please, let's remember that oftentimes that is completely realistic, even if it's not ideal. The "get to know you" sometimes comes after. Chill out.)
This went on a lot longer than you'd think, too, but I think it was supposed to be like that. These boys were unattainable to me, which meant they were a safe way to act out my raging emotions. Deep down, I knew these guys would never actually notice me, and I don't know what I would have done if they did. I probably would have been scared, because I wasn't ready for a real relationship. I was only ready to imagine myself in one. A really twisted, fantastical version of a real relationship, mind you.
But I did change. I did grow out of crushing on the hot boy. It happened in 11th grade. It happened when I met Ty. (Not his real name—I'm not stupid enough to completely embarrass myself. Just mostly embarrass.)
Ty was just a boy to me for a while. A friend. I'd always had boy friends. They were a different kind of safe boy—the ones I couldn't be attracted to. Like my younger brother's buddies, who I often played video games with. Or the not-so-cute boys I did school projects with. Or the ones with girlfriends, so I didn't have to worry about where it was going.
Ty was one such guy. He was in one of my classes. I worked with him during some extracurricular activities. He was short and funny and just plain normal. I liked being around him, but not in that way. I still had my wild, ridiculous crush thing going on.
After knowing him for almost a year, there was a dance coming up that I decided I did not want to miss. I also knew I wouldn't get asked, since there was only like two weeks until it happened and everyone had dates already.
But Ty didn't. I knew that. So when I sat next to him in class, I said, "I've decided that you're taking me to the dance."
He blinked a few times, then laughed. "Way to ruin the surprise."
I smiled. So he was planning to take me? This little flutter shot through me. I hadn't been to many dances...okay, I'd been to ONE. It was the Valentine's Dance my sophomore year, with a guy I didn't really like. Let's just say awkward isn't a strong enough word. This was different—I liked being around Ty, and this kind of proved he liked being around me. Maybe not in that way, but it was the first time I looked forward to a date. I knew it wouldn't be weird. It would be fun. Ty and I always had fun together.
And it was fun! We grouped with his best friend and date. I liked how it wasn't a big group—here in Utah the group dates can get crazy. We went out to eat and made fun of the "popular" kids we saw there. At the dance, we goofed off. Slow dancing wasn't weird, it was just nice. I knew Ty wasn't one of those guys who'd try to be skeevy. Even the whole picture thing was a laugh. It's still my favorite dance picture. At the door, he hugged me goodnight, and that was the end of it.
Then stuff got...weird. Ty didn't talk to me much for like three weeks after that. I didn't understand, but it was almost like he was trying to make sure I knew we weren't a couple or anything. I was so mad. I didn't expect to be a couple! I didn't expect anything, really. I just wanted things to be like they were before. I wanted my friend back. I missed him.
Which was when it hit me. I did like him. And more than just friend like.
This revelation scared the crap out of me. I didn't want to confirm his apparent fears. I didn't want to change things. I had no idea what to do with myself, with what I felt.
Ty and I stayed friends. I continued to "secretly" like him, though I often wonder if it was completely obvious. Sometimes it was perfectly normal. But the awkwardness crept in here and there, whenever the line between friend and more blurred just a little. Then it would be back to silence and distance until it was clear nothing would happen.
He was the first guy I can honestly say I loved. I didn't just think he was hot (though he was so cute). I knew him. I'd spent time with him. We got along, and we had a lot of fun together. Even if it wasn't a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, it was a real relationship.
Nothing ever happened with Ty, at least not in the romantic sense. We stayed friends. I loved him. I kept as quiet as I could about it.
Looking back, though, I don't regret a minute of it. Loving my friend was as much part of my adolescence as all those silly crushes. It taught me what a relationship was supposed to be, showed me that caring about someone was so much more than being attracted to them.
And, go figure, I married my best friend. He's still my best friend. Sometimes I wonder if I would have looked over Nick had I not known Ty, had I not learned what to look for when I did finally find someone to be with.