Unattainable

Today’s Daily Post prompt is “Pattern,” which is appropriate, since I’ve been contemplating several reoccurring patterns in my life as of late. The other day, I had a long talk with an old friend from high school who has pretty much grown into a pen pal over the years. I haven’t seen Andy in over 17 years, but we’ve remained loosely in touch, communicating first via letters, then email and IM, and now Messenger.

We’ve always gone for long stretches of time without talking, sometimes a year or two between missives, but we always just pick everything back up where we left off. It’s funny, really, because our friendship started over notes, as well. We were paired up in biology class as lab partners, and since we were both smart kids who didn’t have to pay much attention to get A’s, we spent the entire semester writing notes back and forth between completing assignments. Later, we took a pre-calculus class together, and he made sure I didn’t fail, again through notes and also helping me figure out how to use that stupid graphing calculator. He might have also helped me figure out how to cheat via said calculator, but I’m a little fuzzy on that. It was a long time ago, and I’ve always been against cheating. But I also can’t for the life of me figure out how I managed to pass that class, so the only thing I can imagine is that Andy introduced some sort of moral gray area where I could tell myself I wasn’t cheating, but I still had notes or help-aids of some sort in front of me during exam time.

Anyway, we were talking the other day, and it threw me back into my high school self for a few hours – a needy little nerd girl. At 16, I had a crush on the cool surfer guy/secret math whiz/biology lab partner who only had eyes for the hottest girl in school. I endured months of “I think she’s interested in me – did you see her looking my way during class?” etc., while patiently doing something that I can only assume was my idea of waiting my turn. I have no clue what was going on in my head. I know that I liked him, but I also know that I saw he wasn’t getting over this girl any time soon, so I went on with all of my other crushes and flings while mentally tapping a finger on my watch. I knew we were running out of time. And then we did run out of time, and we went our separate ways. We’re still friends, but life has moved on, and the process of all that moving on has made us drastically different people, from our old selves and from one another. As fun as it might be to think in movie plot “what if” scenarios, the honest answer is that the moment passed us by when we turned our tassels at graduation.

When Andy and I were talking the other night, conversation briefly passed over a guy from home whom I’d briefly dated in undergrad. When we were in high school, there was a beautiful cheerleader who was rather snooty to me. She dated a popular, strikingly handsome football player (imagine that). I coveted that boy, in retrospect not because I cared about him, as a person, but more because I didn’t like the girl, and I wanted to have what she did. So it came to pass that three or four years later, I ran into the guy when I was home for the holidays, we hit it off, and then we dated for six months or so. In the end, we broke up after I came to terms with the fact that, yes, he was gorgeous and sweet, but also not too bright. I’d never be happy with a guy who wasn’t my intellectual equal. During our conversation the other night, Andy told me that he’d never understood what I was doing when I was dating this guy, and I know now, many years later, that it really didn’t make any sense from the outside, unless you were me. I explained it the best I could, quite simply: I want what I want, and I like to win.

If there’s one thing I can see from examining my relationships with my high school crushes, it’s that I have a very distinct pattern. I always seek out the unattainable ones, and I push until I get them, then one way or another, it ends poorly. There was the older guy with a trail of multiple secret girlfriends, the writer who didn’t want to take advantage of me by claiming me as a girlfriend (but was more than happy to take advantage in other ways), the Quebecois who’d never be happy with a girl who didn’t speak French, the guitarist with crippling depression who lived on my dime for six months but refused to date me, the trombonist who broke up with me to give more time to his music, the historic preservationist who told me straight up that he didn’t have ANY dreams, the Costa Rican with a secret girlfriend, the Brazilian with a secret wife…I could go on, but it’s not worth it. Even the ones that seem attainable and perfect at first glance – and yes, there have been a handful of these – end up being rather soul-crushing in the end.

But in the end, we can never truly become one with another human being. Sometimes it seems that I have trouble just relating to myself, never mind my love interest. I wonder how often I’ve seemed like the unattainable one, and if that’s the real pattern here.

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