Losing Yourself in Someone Else

I knew you were trouble when you walked in.

I knew you were trouble when you walked in.

The burn and the sting, and the high, and the heat, and the left me wanting more feeling when he kissed me – I should have just called him whiskey.
– Jana Kramer, Whiskey

We met in middle school. You would tease me constantly – I remember you even serenaded and proposed to me during our science class. I think you attempted to sing Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful, except you only knew that one line, so over and over it went. “You are so beautiful to me.” Just an FYI, I wasn’t. But your deluded sense of what I looked like led you to constantly pester me, and it left me one annoyed thirteen-year-old. Just leave me alone already, would you?

And middle school ended, and so did the pestering, the annoyances, the pokes in the rib cage you thought constituted flirtatious tickling – we never established an actual friendship, just a charming back and forth.

And fate or whatever you believe in stepped in and we happened to “meet” again in our twenties simply because one of your best friends wanted to hang out with one of my best friends and you happened to tag along with him, and I happened to tag along with her. We had the “I know you” moment, and it hit me. You were no longer this chubby, annoying twelve-year-old. You were this tall, gorgeous man. What the hell happened? I guess our post-pubescent years benefited both of us. I could tell you and I had instant chemistry from that first night we hung out with our friends.

My hormones were screaming for me to sleep with you, but my brain happened to be louder, telling me to wait, to date you, or something like that. Because you weren’t just hot, you were so well-spoken. You were amazingly intelligent, and your love of politics blew me away. Finally, someone who could actually carry on a conversation about current events and just happened to be nice to look at. You are so George Clooney-esque, I’d always tell you. (Side note to any readers, I swear I’m not this shallow, guys. He was is just really hot.)

But you were so bad for me. You had a reputation – to this day, I don’t really understand it though. You always treated me well, you were always so sweet – you genuinely wanted to make sure we were ready to take that “next step”, so I guess I never understood what people were talking about when they told me to “be careful.” My sister and her boyfriend never thought you were good for me, and even some of your friends gave me subtle warnings. But for whatever reason, I ignored it all, and felt myself developing actual feelings for you. Some might say I was rebounding from my previous relationship, but I don’t think that’s what it was. I think it was me finally finding someone that stunned the hell out of me.

I had been hiding in a shell after my break up, but with you, I felt vulnerable again. But as the story goes, it ended up being for all the wrong reasons. I constantly felt inferior when I was dating you. I was so worried about being perfect and pleasing you and trying to be sexy and beautiful and intelligent and witty all at once – it was exhausting. My sister would constantly ask me why I acted like a completely different person around you, and I could never give her an actual answer. I would fumble with the words that ended up meaning, “I don’t know.”

All I knew was that I loved talking to you, I loved sitting in your truck when you’d drop me home after a date and you’d cup my face and kiss me, and it was during those moments I would relish in the scent of your cologne and cigarettes. It was intoxicating. But I was so lost. I tried so hard to be someone that I thought you would fall for that I no longer knew what my real self felt like. At the time, I did know I was smart and I knew I could keep up with you in conversation, but I overemphasized so much because I feared if I somehow wasn’t perfect, you and your beautiful self would leave.

But you ended up leaving anyway. Or you had to leave, I should say. I knew being with you had an expiration date. I say knew, but I don’t think I fully grasped the situation until you were actually gone. We had numerous talks about how we both couldn’t get in too deep because you were leaving to finish school and pursue acting, and we both felt we should end it sooner rather than later, but neither of us ever could. We stayed in our fishbowl, swimming around, pretending like no outside world, no external circumstances, existed. Nothing would impact us. Except time.

And then time away from you gave me clarity. Nothing bad that you did – like I said, I never understood this so called “reputation” that you had, but more so what I had done. Or didn’t do, I guess. I ended up losing myself in you, and in a way, it helped that you left. I mean, it still sucked, but then again, goodbyes always do. And I guess the best part of this whole thing is that we still talk, I still consider you my friend, and I came out of it with my whole (real) self still intact.

The rock candy’s melted, only diamonds now remain.
– John Mayer, Clarity

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