I knew you well when we were kids;
We played down at the park —
And year on year, I’d hear you laugh
As day turned into dark —
I knew you as our hearts grew long,
Like evening shadows do —
But never did I speak of love,
Although I think
I was one of those boys who was constantly infatuated with one girl or another. The same was not true in reverse.
When I hit adolescence, the intensity of these crushes changed form, but the likelihood of them being reciprocated remained low. It’s not that it never happened, it was just… rare.
When it comes to matters of the heart, reciprocation is the only thing differentiating “very good” from “very bad”. For instance:
- When you love forever someone who loves you, that’s loyalty, which is a very, very good thing. When you love forever someone who doesn’t return the feeling, that’s creeping, stalking or harassment, which are very, very bad things indeed.
- When you send romantically- or sexually-tinged messages to someone who feels the same way about you, it’s exciting for both people, which can be a very, very good thing. When you send romantically- or sexually-tinged messages to someone who thinks you are gross and disgusting, it’s a singularly bad thing. Few things are worse.
Reciprocation was in short supply for me: I crushed away for years while no one crushed back. This was rather depressing at the time, but it turned into a gold mine now that I’m a poetry blogger.
Emotions are real, just about as real a thing as possible. And the fact that a person is young doesn’t make their feelings in some way less important. The fact that a person is old doesn’t, either.
It’s not our emotions that get us in trouble, it’s what we do with them. I never told Patricia at the park I thought she was perfect. But, at ages 9-10, I really felt it. I’m actually glad I never told her, because, I never ruined the feeling by giving her cause to scorn me.
And she would have.