I fell in love when I was 14 but it wasn’t with who I thought it was. I thought I was in love with a senior, who was tall and lanky and had a goofy face and spoke in a goofy voice but with a veil of fake confidence that I took to mean he had a beautiful mind. We talked constantly. I would go to school exhausted because I had either stayed up all night on the phone with him or at the very least texting him. For an entire year, he perpetuated my delusion that we were…soul mates. I would be infatuated with him for the next four to five years.

I still feel an ache in my heart when I talk about him or think about him. His mind worked so similarly to mine that sometimes I felt like I couldn’t separate him from me. Our time spent together was sparse because he rarely reciprocated interest in being physically present with me, which should have tipped me off to his lack of sincerity in this inexplicable bond that I felt, but instead made it evermore elusive and grandiose-like two mid century lovers separated by seas, sending telegrams and letters, distracted from life’s burdens by our absence of togetherness.

Incidentally, I simultaneously fell in love with a girl I called my best friend. We shined when we were with each other. Laughing in the face of danger (at the time, senior girls who hated our guts), claiming invincibility against all odds, against drunken parents and unreciprocated soul mates, against the betrayal of other friends, and our own guilt when we became the bullies at times. We lived life with a flippant kind of curiosity, laughter in place of pain. If I had known at the time that falling in love with a girl was an option, everything would have been different. Our minds were similar but instead of being the same, they complimented one another like dirt grabs hold of roots and insists a dandelion above the earth’s surface.

If I had known falling in love with a girl was an option, I may have avoided pain and suffering and the loss of the love I didn’t know I had, distracted by my desperate desire for the nonexistent ideal masterfully designed by my own mind, and though self-designed, I still can’t quite grasp its mastery. I confined myself to an empty and desperate yearning that I think few people feel to the extent that I did, and it was all inside me. Roots and dirt are real. My designs are so entirely imagined and flawed. I wonder how many times Shakespeare got caught up in his own hubris, thrashing blindly, having neglected his companion who had reminded him to laugh.