When I was a freshman in high school, I joined a weekend orchestra program to replace cheerleading after I’d unexpectedly quit three weeks into basketball season. My Saturday mornings became a ritual of waking up earlier than I wanted to and riding to Poughkeepsie in the passenger’s seat of my mother’s Winnebago. I’d been placed in the orchestra which housed mostly middle school students, partly because my private teacher was the conductor and partly because I was very behind the well-educated students who had taken private lessons for longer and more consistently than I had, therefore I was seemingly one of the oldest people there.

We rehearsed in the dank basement of an older church, the church where my grandparents were married, and I quickly drew the attention of a boy who was very tall (at least, compared to me) with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes – he looked like one of the “popular” kids. I’d never been hit on before by a boy like that and was very much anorexic at the time. So when he started teasing me about having to pay him a toll to get past him during our break, I gobbled it right up. I was starving to have a boy pay attention to me. This was when I was wearing skirts that were way too short (only 15 inches from waist to hem) and heels that were way too tall and shirts that were too tight and worked their way up my abdomen until my lower back and belly button were showing. I wore makeup almost every day and still bothered to straighten my hair. I just wanted someone, anyone, to pay attention to me.

I don’t remember much about how that romance blossomed, we saw a movie (I don’t remember which),  he came to my house once (we made out the entire time while listening to Good Charlotte), and he brought me to a family function at his cousin/aunt/uncle/something’s house near the old train station across the street from the river. I remember standing in the wind, wearing my blue American Girl rain coat/windbreaker (that’s how young I still was; I was wearing American Girl clothes) which was warmer than any coat I own today and which would probably still fit me had I kept it, while he was hanging upside down from a tree. At the time, I felt so grown up, looking back it’s hard to imagine I was ever that young or that innocent.

We were still at the playground, he leaning against a tree while I leaned my body against his, holding hands as we kissed when he started pressuring me to flash him. I’d had a boyfriend before, so this wasn’t exactly the first time I’d been asked to do something I didn’t want to. It just felt so inappropriate to risk some passerby seeing me simply because it was something we couldn’t do in a house where parents were. I think I finally gave in; the first of many times I would waive my comfort at the request of some random boy.

The next day, he broke up with me.


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