An open letter to my aunts
& the rest of you judgmental b*tches;
The first person I ever fell in love with was named Roberto. He was a boy with curly hair who went to my elementary school. We may have talked three times in five years, but for a while, I was certain that he was my prince charming. I probably should have talked to him, but instead I just always went after him in tag first. It didn’t work out.
My second experience with love was at the tail end of elementary school. I was enamored by a pair of fraternal twins. Sasha was quiet but had a cute smile. Her brother, Aaron was a computer and LEGO nerd. I think I fell in love with him in the carpeted basement of our school where our computer class was held. We would talk about Oregon Trail and Zoombinis all class long. Being in love with a set of twins was confusing because none of the Barbie movies covered polyamory. Instead of dwelling on complicated feelings, I buried them.
In sixth grade, my best friend Atticus had my whole heart. I would do anything for her. Including letting her make out with her boyfriend in my room, while I played Sims 2 in the living room. In my Sims game, her boyfriend was married to someone else and Atticus and I were “roommates.” I never confessed my feelings to her and instead left the country to live abroad with my aunt and uncle for a year.
I was so out of place while living in Central America. My Spanish was fine, but my accent was shit. I was poor, and the other kids were not. Most of them had lived in four or more countries. Despite feeling like an outsider, I made a friend. Her dad was one of the heads of Coca-Cola South America, and they lived in a three-story mansion-meets-apartment. Angela would always invite me over for sleepovers and have me sleep in her bed with her. My heart threatened to beat out of my chest each time. When I went back home to New York, we stopped talking.
Back in New York, Atticus was now boyfriendless. She was more into drinking and hanging out on random piers or parks around the city. The first time she invited me to hang out with her, she drank too many Four Loko/Gatorade combos and seemed to be blacking out. In a moment of freaking the fuck out I called my mom and confessed everything. My mom called everyone’s parents and I wasn’t invited out again. Atticus ended up transferring schools and my mom still refers to Atticus as my “bad friend.”
In High School I fell in love (in no particular order) with:
12 people in four years meant I averaged falling for three people a year for about four months each. My infatuations were like a word problem straight out of a math textbook.
If Spencer loves 12 people over the course of four years, how much does Spencer’s desperation increase after each infatuation ends?
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m sure the answer is exponential.
Despite how in my feels I was throughout all of my K-12 schoolings, I never dated anyone. I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to date. I saw all my friends with their significant others and it always looked so messy.
I was content to just be in love. It was a solitary and one-sided act that was so peaceful compared to the highs and lows of High School Dating. I kept a running list of all the people I was in love with, in pencil, on a portion of my bedroom wall hidden by my nightstand.
Around 10th grade, I noticed that everyone around me was ridiculously horny. It was that type of hormone-driven craze that leads all conversations to turn to sex. But we were New York kids and all lived in tiny apartments where parents were up our asses. So shockingly most of us weren’t having sex. Instead, there were handjobs in the busted bathroom on the 7th floor. Or doing everything we possibly could in the locker room during gym class.
During high school, I kissed every single one of my friends. As teenagers, friendships were so intense and all-consuming. Between the CW and fanfiction, we all thought it was okay to kiss each other under the guise of looking hot, practicing, being “drunk” on half a beer, or just being caught up in the moment. It always ended the same -- an awkward few hours and then moving on like it never happened.
I got drinks with a friend from high school a few weeks ago, and I asked her how she remembered our school years. She responded with a laugh that was more of a long exhale and a horrified look.
“We were all too much all of the time.”
I wish I could say I stopped being too much when high school ended, but instead I was just gearing up for college (see: previous letter). Long story short, freshman year I started dating one of my best friends after we both got rejected by the same mutual friend.
Eventually, I started dating a guy in my friend group who was the funny one. He made me laugh and that was all I needed to start a three-year-long relationship despite having many ideological differences.
I came back to New York jobless and single. I fell back into not-so-old habits without thinking otherwise.
A gin-fuelled drunken make-out with a friend I had known for several years fundamentally changed everything for me. He was handsome, tall, and previously unattainable. When we wound up pressed against the kitchen counter, double vision, mouthes crashing together, it felt like crossing off a bingo box. Making out with Malcolm, check.
I was so lonely, and we got along so I thought we could be good together. It’s some fucking miracle (and really amazing friends who saw we were too drunk to be making good decisions) that Malcolm left with our other friend an hour later instead of staying the night.
The next afternoon we met up, hungover to all hell. I told him that I liked him.
He sat on my bed next to me and I remember his hand brushing the side of my face. He had this look on his face that always precedes rejection.
He said, “This isn’t the right time for me. And I don’t think it’s the right time for you either. I want to be your friend.”
When the initial sting of rejection passed, I felt relief. I knew that dating Malcolm would have been messy.
After fracturing one friend group with dating gone wrong, I was so happy when I heard that he still wanted to be friends. And we are friends. I love him dearly. I think in many ways he holds some of my first truly platonic love because it’s wrapped up in a healthy boundary that is mutual.
After that, I chilled out. I realized what I had been seeking and what I actually wanted were two very different things.
I decided that I would actively not date friends.
I met my now-spouse through Tinder. We became friends, but first, we were lovers. It makes sense to me now, because what I want in my friends and what I found I want in my spouse are so different.
That feeling of infatuation for friends hasn’t gone away. But I now know what it is. My first friend in my post-revelation/Malcolm world was a co-worker from work. She is kind of bitchy in the same ways I am. She is fucking hysterical. I value her so much. In the first few months of our friendship, I was worried that I would fall back into my habit of falling for friends, and then it dawned on me that what I was feeling was admiration.
It’s crazy how platonic admiration can be when you turn the horniness down a notch.
To say the pandemic has been hard would be a global understatement but like many people, the lockdown made me spend a lot of time in my own head. I miss my friends and with some new perspective, I’ve been lucky enough to rekindle a lot of relationships that I cherish. I’ve learned to let my admiration show (you know, in a healthy, communicative way) rather than burying it and letting it fester into some weird pseudo-sexual bullshit.
I love you, I love you not, I love you