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September 3, 2019 | by  | in Features |
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Puppy Love

For someone who has never been in love, I’ve been in love a lot. There’s a term for this sort of pitiful tragedy—“puppy love”. My earliest memory of puppy love was when I was six. He was a couple years older than me, and he and his friends would throw around paper planes during break time. I remember sticking around the abandoned playground after the lunch bell rang one day, picking up a crumpled plane, and stashing it away in my tote tray for safekeeping. And there it was: The seed had been planted for this obsessive lunacy I branded as romance. 

 

This seed, which bloomed in high school, became one of my defining personality traits: There she goes, the emotional trainwreck of a woman who writes poems to boys that probably can’t read. With one-sided love, the stakes are lower but the tea is hotter, so 

allow me to take you through a chronology of my past mishaps. 

 

This is for everyone who glazes over the topic of high school for fear of scrutiny, who carries around their past like it’s dead weight. Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff. If you were honest enough to wear your heart on your sleeve, you should be brave enough to take ownership of the consequences. 

 

To All The Boys I’ve (Chased) Before—here’s the shout out you never asked for. 

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I am rocking up to the first day of this new year with a new-found swing in my step to mask my flickering gaze. Having become friends over the summer, Mitchell and I had been spending every night up at 2 a.m., dissecting the meaning of life on Facebook Messenger. 

 

But summer isn’t forever. At school, a dooming realisation hits—you don’t want anything to do with me. You and your cronies hang outside the canteen like a knock-off biker gang, and your friends make crude jokes at me when I walk past. Some days, if I have the audacity, I’ll look up and catch a glimpse of your face hiding behind the frontliners. Never the perpetrator, always the bystander, you are spineless and apathetic.

 

It’s not doing much for my self-esteem to realise the man I’m baring my soul to online is really just an oversized boy using a phone screen as his crutch. I’ll spend the rest of the year with my head down as word gets around that I’m an attention-seeking tryhard attempting to climb the social ladder by chatting up an older guy. 

 

You ask me what my favourite Biggie Smalls song is, and I falter. It seems I have too much melanin on the outside, and not enough on the inside. So I’ve temporarily changed my entire music taste—if that doesn’t work, I’ll move on to switching my skin colour next. I’ve been learning the words to every one of J. Cole’s top hits for you. The lyrics will stay with me. You won’t. 

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Nicholas is simply a golden boy who deserves better. We have mutual friends who only say the nicest things about him—that combined with the fact that he is a chiseled god is enough to send me spiraling. Since he isn’t at my school, I can’t get my regular fix of his face. Being the out-of-the-box innovator I am, I have convinced his mates to send me daily Snapchats of him, saving them for a rainy day in an album on my phone. I have got to the 200th photo mark and he’s just found out. It’s not pretty. 

 

The first time we meet in person is when we bump into each other at a street fair, a month after the finding-out-I-stalk-him-through-pictures ordeal. I’m shoving waffles down my throat when I see him walking over from the burger stall, promptly regurgitating them back onto my plate and offering him a pathetic smile. I still don’t know how he has managed to not only forgive me for this gross violation of privacy, but eventually become a friend of mine. We’ve hung out, gone to parties, and he’s let me walk his dog—the latter being the truest sign of redemption. 

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I almost don’t resent the thought that I may be peaking in high school. But I’m incapable of having too much of a good thing, so in the midst of the accolades and accomplishments is Hamish. He wears button-up shirts that flatters his ribcage in ways he’d rather they didn’t. He announces plans to get into med school while smoking his way through packs of Marlboros. Pale, unremarkable, and unkind, he is the perfect target for my relentless affection.  

 

It’s the ball afterparty and I have been anticipating this more than the event itself. You tell me you’re coming but the hours are ticking by, my curls are starting to unravel, and there’s no sign of you. Leaving the party half-hearted and fully disappointed at 3 a.m., I climb into the car of the friend who volunteered to be my Uber for the night. Just as I get dropped home, I hear a ‘ping!’ from my phone. I am not one for physical excursion yet all it takes is a blurry Snapchat reading “where you at?” to send me running after the car in my skyscraper heels, insisting I be driven back. 

 

As a last-ditch effort, I try the park down the street from the party, where durry lovers and projectile vomiters unite. Since lady luck is never on my side, you happen to be both. Steering me away from the swamp where you threw up half your body weight, you drag me to the stoners’ circle and I promptly begin to question my priorities in life. 

 

If I’m being honest, I came back so I could kiss you. The scene plays out in my head like a coming-of-age film. I’m not sure what’s more pathetic: turning 18 without having been kissed, or wanting my first kiss to be a boy who only looks me in the eyes when he’s wasted. 

 

That’s a lie. I know what’s more pathetic. It’s that even after you reject me like a broken record, I send you a PowerPoint presentation titled “Why you should date me”, complete with curated photos and a heavy dose of sarcasm. I like to think we’ll never go out due to artistic differences

 

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Now I’m sitting pretty in the sociopolitical climate of 2019, realising I used to feel entitled to someone’s affection because I worked for it. That kind of mentality creates monsters. I need to check my privilege. If I wasn’t a 14-year-old-looking, 5-foot-nothing Asian girl, there would be a hefty pile of restraining orders with my name on them. Privilege is subconsciously granted depending on where you stand in society, and for once, not being a ‘stale, pale male’ has proven advantageous. It’s easier to look back and dismiss my actions by romanticising my intentions; admitting what I did was problematic is a harder pill to swallow. You can earn someone’s respect, gain their trust, and become worthy of their time. If you’re lucky, they might even grow to love you. But you can’t make someone fall in love with you. That’s called pushing, and it’s far from romantic. 

 

I also realised the only way I could respectfully namedrop in this article was if I asked for permission from the aforementioned gentlemen. Writing about your puppy loves to a university audience is one thing; letting the guys involved know is a whole other. I sent messages explaining the situation and mentally prepared myself for replies of ‘fuck no’. Hamish thought I was making a fuss over nothing and said of course I could use his name, demanding he get sent a copy to read himself. Nick replied with a concise “go for it”. 

 

And our old spineless friend Mitchell? His initial reaction was “damn I was skux”, followed by the first real conversation we’d had in years, followed by a farewell of “all the best for your assessments, you’ve got your ex-crush’s luck”. What stuck with me the most was when he mused that despite all of my crazy, he “respected my hustle”. As time passed, we evolved into adults who could see past the childish fantasies and obsessive tendencies—adults who shed their egos and learned to laugh instead of cringe

 

So to all the boys I loved before: I pray that your romantic endeavours turned out better than mine. Whether you were The Shit, or just shitty, you made for good content and for that I am grateful. 

 

(In) Love always, 

                             a hopeless romantic

 

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