Saturday, August 27, 2005

My first, and maybe last, (unrequited) love

In my mid-twenties I was attending graduate school, and this story happened one summer when I was working as an intern at a government agency.

Through happenstance, I was partnered with this girl named Jenny. I was immediately smitten by her looks. Now up to this point in my life, I had never had much contact with girls I considered to be pretty, and in fact I was certain that no girl like Jenny could ever remotely consider me worthwhile even for casual conversation.

But a strange thing happened between me and Jenny. We became really close friends. The internship didn't require us to do much work, so we had a lot of free time to just hang out and talk. Being with Jenny was a pure delight. I came to realize that she was the most wonderful and beautiful girl in the entire world, and there was not a single other person on the entire planet that I could imagine spending the rest of my life with besides Jenny. I didn't understand the emotions I was experiencing at the time, but yes, I had fallen in love with her.

This was purely unrequited love, because there was absolutely no romantic contact between us and no evidence that she thought of me as anything but a friend. Also she had some loser boyfriend with big muscles that I presume she was having sex with (although I'm not sure where because she was living with her parents and he would never let her into his house).

During the course of the summer, I realized that I was totally incapable of doing anything to move our relationship to the next level. The thought of telling her how I felt, or putting some sort of "moves" on her, filled me with dread and terror.

Making things even worse, about a week before the internship was to come to an end, Jenny suddenly distanced herself from me. She didn't say anything at all about this, and tried to act like nothing had happened. Yet I was so attuned to her that I instantly was aware that something had changed. Who knows why? Probably she was put off by the puppy dog-like way I followed her around and looked longingly at her yet never made any kind of first move.

This was the only time in my life that I thought seriously about committing suicide. I felt like life wasn't worth living without her. Suicide seemed like a pretty good plan, except that I was as terrified of committing suicide as I was about attempting physical intimacy with Jenny. So I made a pact with myself to kill myself on my thirtieth birthday if I couldn't find love and sex by then. Obviously this was a pact that I never followed up on.

My relationship with Jenny was a major turning point in my life. I learned about how great it felt to be in love and how horrible it felt for the love not to be returned. Ever since, I have been haunted with the desire to experience that feeling of love again. And although I became brutally aware of how terrified I was of physical intimacy with women, I also learned that an attractive woman could consider me worthy enough to be a very close friend.

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