unlike some others i know, i prefer to deal in certainty and reality.
with that in mind: from the top, every girl i've ever loved—at the time. the careful reader will note that this reads like a list of french military victories.
1. age 6-7: emily ashlock.
i swear she was smarter then than i am now. she gave me a note one day saying i was doing well in math class—getting a lot of questions right or something—and drew a rainbow that made my little heart go pitter-pat. i saw her one day recently here in town and tried to strike up a conversation. she didn't remember me. that wasn't awkward or anything.
2. age 7-8: elizabeth burt.
jeremiah's cousin, though i didn't know jeremiah existed at the time. she kissed me on the cheek one early summer twilight. being young, i told a friend about it; she didn't take too well to that and our relationship cooled significantly. she moved away. i tell myself it wasn't because of me. when i was eleven i called her and we talked for about two or three hours. to this day i can't remember how i found her phone number, and it's a little disturbing that i could.
3. age 8: teasha hyer.
she was cute, and she didn't know i existed. the first of many. in the interest of saving space i have suppressed the forty or more who warrant this same description.
4. age 10-11: tina bradshaw.
my first kiss—sort of. truth or dare on the day before some vacation or another, literally underneath some desks. we "went out," which means we sat by each other at lunch and had boring recesses "talking" and boring stuff like that. by the end i was mean to her. when i broke up with her, i actually told her, by proxy, to go to hell. it's not my proudest moment. eventually we were friends again, and i was better for it.
5. age 11: mallory what's-her-face.
we went to summer camp together; someone told me she liked me and so of course i immediately liked her back. i don't remember talking to her—a good thing, otherwise it might not have lasted as long as it did. by which i mean for the remainder of the week.
6. age 11-20, on and off: tristi terrell.
in a plurality of all possible universes, i end up married to tristi. my first and only time "going out" with her lasted less than a month because i ignored her because at that age—some would say and still—i didn't know how to communicate with girls in any meaningful way. my strength was in writing beautiful, flowing, sappy, wretched "will you 'go out' with me" notes, and once that was all over with, i had nothing. she was infinitely more socially competent than i, and it was over before it was properly begun. as with tina, we stayed friends and again i was better for it. she once told someone—after our time was up—that for a very long time, she thought we would end up together, in the marital sense; independently i told this same person the same thing. you can imagine my shock. i never really got over tristi until one summer she found the right guy (or at least one of the many right guys) and never looked back.
7. age 12-13: sara kattenhorn.
against my better judgment. her cuteness devastated me and through it all she was immune to my charms. in retrospect, i'm glad.
8. age 14: naomi mendoza.
the package had a very nice wrapping job but was utterly empty, if you take me. i totally don't want to talk about it. nor, i'd wager, does jeremiah.
9. age 14-16: morgan johnston.
i now think of our relationship back then as very similar to that between tim & dawn or jim & pam, only without the reciprocated romantic interest. perhaps something might have come of it had i mentioned anything to her, or at least shown some depth of character, but no: i instead chose to act silly. so that's all over with. i recently found out she got married to precisely the wrong guy. not that i'm judging you, punk, but you don't deserve her.
10. age 15: malinda hessel.
nearly every male i knew spent at least a week desperately infatuated with malinda, and rightly so. she was probably the sweetest girl in my life at the time—and she spoke to me on occasion.
11. age 17: heather kellogg.
my first proper, official, healthy, publicly acknowledged relationship: three months, called on account of graduation. we had conversations that shimmer in my mind like chopin put to words. we could keep up marvelously with each other.
12. age 18: megan lacey.
once she touched my right pinky, and you'll never convince me she didn't mean to do it. she was just outside-the-box enough, and just british enough, to make me fawn, swoon, and otherwise twitterpate. we flirted well. at least she did. i'd give a dollar to find out what she thought of me then.
13. age 18: courtney gravett.
wide-set blue-green eyes, short hair, almost deitific skill with the written word—what more could a romantic idealist hope for? oh, right, steamy kisses in my dorm room. well, there might have been some of that.
14. age 18-20: kara cockrum.
you flirted in oh-such-a-sly way, had that smile, and that hair, and you expect me to be too young for you? (i repeat: i recently found out she got married to precisely the wrong guy. not that i'm judging you, punk, but you don't deserve her.)
15. age 19-20: avril atkinson.
older than i by a significant margin and so far out of my league i might as well have been playing a completely different sport, we still had some good talks. she calmed me. she was working on an advanced psychology degree and i've always liked to be analyzed; we were like two puzzle pieces. unfortunately we were not two adjacent puzzle pieces. i don't know where she ended up.
16. age 20-present: she who must not be named.