I love boys....always have. There were the two Alans and a Brad, a Noah a Scott a Chris and a slew of Mikes...I wound up even marrying one. There were also the scandalous Todd and Lance. And, of course, there was the beautiful Dutch guy, Iljan, my summer camp love. It was an exquisite romance – six weeks of intense, young passion followed by a year of heartache when he went home to the Netherlands.
I was four when I shared my first kiss with my first Alan. I fantasized about marrying him. I worshipped Alan and wanted to dress like him. It was pure and uncomplicated until he told me that he preferred Emily, a girl who looked like Pocahontas with jet black hair and bright green eyes. She wore dresses and played with Barbie dolls. I wore shorts and played with balls. I remember sleeping in Alan’s trundle bed – we were both in kindergarten when he told me about his crush on Emily. It broke my heart. I was only 5 years old.
I couldn’t tell you what I ate for dinner two nights ago or remember the names of all of my college roommates and I’ve been known to even forget my home phone number, but strangely, I can’t forget the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I played Spin-The-Bottle at my 12-year-old birthday party and landed on Noah. I leaned in to kiss him. He pulled away. I was crushed.
What is it about those first experiences, first loves, first heartbreaks that stay ingrained in you for all eternity? Thirty years can pass and I can still recall what I was doing and wearing when Brad, my fifth grade boyfriend, dumped me for Melissa. We had only gone steady for 24 hours. What could I have possibly done?
Those boys have been more than 1,000 miles away for more than two decades since I left Miami for Chicago then D.C. and now New York. But Facebook has magically reconnected me to my past and all the complicated feelings of insecurity, nostalgia and obsession that are intertwined with those boys.
Like many of my fellow over 30-something Facebookers, the addiction kicked in last summer when the novelty of FB networking kicked in. And then I took a hiatus. Facebook is a time suck and frankly, who has the time?
But now on the cusp of my 20th high school reunion, I've taken to Facebook with renewed gusto. More of those boys have recently joined but now I'm finding it sort of depressing. It's not that they look bad; it's that frankly I wouldn't be able to recognize these guys if I fell over them in a Starbucks….they just look, well, old.
For decades they’ve been captured in my memory as forever adolescent. And that’s when time stopped. It’s as if they’ve been cryogenically preserved as Peter Pans in my brain only to resurface on Facebook as unrecognizably almost 40-year-old men.
I find myself searching their photos for recognition, my eyes adjusting to their aged images. What happened to their necks, their hair, their braces? Maybe I’m projecting, because if they’re getting old, what does that mean about me?
And that cuts to the core of Facebook, high school reunions and reconnecting with your former lives. It reminds you of the passage of time. It takes you back to another era – an era in which you may not want to return.
Noah never even knew that I loved him. I’ve confirmed that now – 25 years later when one of my oldest friends in the world, Nikki, exchanged some emails with him. Noah didn’t have a clue. And after all of these years, I thought he just rejected me. So besides the somewhat queasy feeling I have connecting with old friends on Facebook, there is some closure in it after all. And by the way, Noah still looks great. I hope to see him in Miami when I go home for my reunion.