I was 18 when it first happened, two weeks previously I had waved goodbye to my wonderful father from behind emptying boxes and a giant peace lily now occupying my university bedroom. The final day of the fresher’s ball and one of the boys had pulled down all the posters on our student board, smashed a light bulb and punched a dent into the fridge because I simply didn’t fancy him and was snogging a member of the football team instead. The next morning I was bewildered, the idea of someone feeling like that about me? It was new, and while I pinned the bar flyers and bare breasted page 3 cut outs back into place I swelled with a whole new concoction of pride and vanity and someone else’s unrequited lust.
Of course I had suffered my own unrequited romances – I had “notice from a mile away and has to have a fringe cut in to try and hide it” acne, a slicked back, dorky ponytail at the nape of my neck and an ability to befriend only girls weirder looking than me. What a babe. My teenage years were spent 12 steps tiptoed behind the boys I fancied, dreaming up scenarios in my head where he’d realise just how beautiful I was under all that prescription facial cream –usually involving us both being locked in somewhere. Grateful for attention, any attention, I kissed a lot of frogs in sixth form. So much so I was at risk of beginning to ribbit myself.
There was some kind of romance in itself about feeling your entire body ache and flutter at the mere sight of someone, dismissing any real possibilities and settling for hours in your own head just imagining time spent with that insignificant other. Now, with a new found confidence (and newly hatched D cups) I danced and kissed and dated boys I would have previously mooned at from afar. I wanted to be top of the class with a handsome guy to fill the evenings and fairly soon I never had any reason to doubt myself. Unrequited was what happened to other people, not me.
These days I find myself simply too busy. Head glued to a screen between the hours of 9 and 6.30 for 5 days a week, 261 days a year the chance to obsess and lust and yearn after someone just doesn’t seem to happen. The adolescent arrogance has gone too, I find myself lusting after well, lusting. Remember when half the fun was the innocence (that you'd admit to at least) and the sheer joy of a secret and a chance sighting and some ludicrous imagined situation where you find yourself in his arms?
Dating, dating like a grown up woman in London that is, throws up a hundred different kinds of unfamiliar unrequitisms I mean, just because I don’t want a second date doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t still want to pursue me? Does it? Smug and sure I don’t want a second drink I still sit by the phone waiting for the inevitable “Shall we do this again?” to be confronted with... nothing. Nada. And I am a great first date. What about the dates that you know want to see you again but are too busy playing it cool to just bloody text you back and arrange it again then, just as you’re marking it down to experience, they reappear with dinner and another bottle of Sauvignon Blanc? Online dating you find yourself presented with a whole list of “had a look and then moved on”, worse still when you know they know you’ve had a good butchers at their profile. Unrequited interest just got personal.
When all emphasis is on finding a date and then finding the one and finding the money and time and inclination for a mortgage and a family we seem to ignore the sheer thrill of a crush. Not hearing back from a dinner for two feels like the end of the world but often only because we’ve imagined the entire evening and the incredible chemistry and the pant dropping goodnight kiss days and days before the actual event, am I right? Forget the purpose lead fine dining and the flowers round the door I think I’m just going to start chasing those little butterflies, fully embracing those fantasies.
Because a little crush is hardly crushing now, is it.