When I was little, I didn’t know that happiness was something you could someday not have. It didn’t occur to me that it was something you could lose. After all, what was life if not happiness with some tough times sprinkled through, like when dad would yell at me for wandering off too far from our apartment building, or when I scratched up a neighbor’s car for fun and thoughtfully wrote my full name on it.
All I thought you could want from life as an adult is money. I mean, what else was there? Happiness is a given, so that only leaves that sweet, sweet moolah, right? I wanted to be a lawyer, because I knew they were smart and rich. Life as an adult was all about the money.
Then halfway into my sixteenth year as a member of the human race, I found myself flat on my face in a pile of misery. It was gone. My life literally changed when my happiness was taken away from me and instead replaced with intense yearning, desperation, and an overall sense of total futility. I had fallen in love for the first time in my life and it came at me like a wrecking ball through a styrofoam wall. Cupid put his heavy boot – big feet for such a little guy – on my neck and held my face down in the mud as I gurgled on my hopes and dreams. It was my first time, but he didn’t think it appropriate to be gentle. Full-blown savage, that guy.
I have had crushes on girls for as long as I can remember. I remember all their names, their faces, their scents, their voices, the dimples in their cheeks, their freckles, their laughs, and the way their palms felt as they slapped my face. I remember all the ways I’d try to get their attention, all the daydreams I had about them, all the songs I’d listen to while thinking of them, all the notes, the carvings on trees, the mixtapes, the late-night talks as I grew older, everything.