I dated the same guy for most of my junior year of high school. We never slept together, but we spent a lot of time together, doing other things. We broke up the summer before my senior year. That fall, he came to a talent show at my school, where I was performing. During intermission, he informed me that he’d finally found a girl to sleep with him, and he was really glad we broke up since it let him meet this college chick who went all the way in the back seat of his Nissan Sentra.
I was devastated. I remember crying in the dark library to my favorite teacher, Mr. Berry, a 22 year old calculus teacher who was fresh out of college himself. The poor guy probably had no idea how to handle a sobbing chubby teenager crying about her ex-boyfriend, especially when said teenager needed to get her act together and play the piano for three more acts after intermission.
But he did okay. I needed a shoulder to cry on, and he was a good guy.
That ex-boyfriend? He was okay too. Really.
This all seems so silly now. But at the time? I was living in the moment. I couldn’t let go of the drama.
I read this theory once, about how the younger you are, the more time seems to matter. Think about it: for a five year old, if you say, “next year,” a year is 20% of his or her life. But if you take a 20-year-old, a year is 5% of his or her life. That’s a huge perspective shift. The younger you are, the more time seems weighted with drama. A day is a lifetime when you’re a child.
It’s not much shorter when you’re a teenager.
I used to play this game when I worked at a nursing home during my senior year. I covered the reception desk for 12 hours every Sunday. It was the most boring 12 hours I’ve ever spent. But I’d remind myself that a minute lasts a minute, whether I’m bored or not. Time never changes, just our perspective of the moment.
When I was 19, I dated this one guy. He wanted to sleep with me, and we had this honest-to-god fight when I said I wasn’t ready. We had this fight at Pizza Hut, of all places. I mean, Pizza Hut. I can imagine you all rolling your eyes right now. Afterward, I had him take me back to my friend’s house, and we were still fighting. I walked into her house, slammed the door in his face, and locked it.
He started banging on the door, hollering for me to let him in.
This wasn’t before cell phones, but this was before everyone had one. He didn’t. I didn’t. He stood in her yard, pounding and yelling, and I refused to let him in.
My friend asked if I thought maybe I should go down and talk to him.
No way. I was furious.
So I called the cops.
Not my finest moment. But I think about that a lot, now. Back then, I was in the moment. My fury was unending. He was never going to leave. Minutes stretched out in front of me like miles on a flat highway. Now I know all about things like consequences, and considering another person’s feelings, and understanding reason and logic.
Don’t get me wrong. He was being an ass, too. Because he was also a teenager, or maybe 20. Still in that state where every minute is a huge fraction of your life. Where everything means something very serious.
People joke about the teen years being full of angst. But they are. Because everything is happening Right Now. There’s no perspective. Every minute matters. Every emotion is a loaded gun, waiting for a finger on the trigger.
It’s all about the drama.
Because what else is there?