Well, in a way this seems strangely fitting. When I was probably about thirteen I had my first boyfriend. We met at church, which my mother forced me to go to with her whether or not I enjoyed it. It wasn’t an austere Catholic mass like I was used to at school (the type I could easily tune out and honestly didn’t mind much), but the kind of hand-clapping, christian-rock-song-singing, Protestant affair that I was expected to meaningfully participate in; more an intense Sunday school than anything else.
As I got older I got dragged to late masses and conferences to worship. I already knew I didn’t believe in god. I feared death because I knew nothing else came after it. I wanted to die because I was depressed, but I had remained good enough at hiding it to completely avoid any kind of intervention from my parents. To them I was a bummed out tween like all the others; sad, but I’d get over it.
It was in this mess that I met my first boyfriend. He was an idiot I now realize, as I’m sure most people eventually realize about their first boyfriends. I don’t even really consider him my first. I mean, I barely cared about him.
We’d kiss on the little merry go round in the church playground. We’d sneak off during lunch to hold hands and talk on the teeter totter as he launched my much tinier frame into the air. It was cute, I guess.. and everyone has to start somewhere. But we both knew it was simply a necessary first step into a world we’d eventually have to be part of. We both knew neither of us really found the other remotely interesting for purposes other than making out.
I spent so much of that time in my life alone; surrounded by people, but constantly feeling like an outsider. My closest friends were intensely popular. Unlike teen movies would have you believe, this did not, in turn, make me popular. I was rarely allowed out two weekend days in a row because my mother deemed that to be ‘too much fun.’ I hadn’t yet discovered makeup. My skirts were always the length dictated by dress code. I was the only Asian girl in my grade. People said “ching chong” and made slanty eyes at me when I passed by. I was inept at both sports and ballet. I had acne. And braces. And huge, tortoiseshell glasses. I wasn’t even good at math.
So, on weekend nights, allowed out for night time gatherings at church, I’d sneak out during service to pretend to go to the bathroom. I had to escape the zealots. I couldn’t stand being smothered by the emotions of a crowd of people I couldn’t relate to at all.. who couldn’t relate to me.
I’d go outside and lay on the pavement, still warm from the Texas sun baking it all day long, in the middle of the parking lot, in the dark, my brick of an iPod sitting on my chest. I’d turn Third Eye Blind way up in my headphones and wonder if a car would hit me. I wondered if I’d care. I’d push the merry go round with one foot and look up into the foliage of the tree growing over it trying to catch a glimpse of the stars through the gaps. I wondered if anyone would ever really care about me. I wondered if I was going to die alone. I’d walk up and down the teeter totter and smack the tether ball around and around.
So here I am. In a venue named after - and literally resembling - a place of worship. Alone. Surrounded, mostly, by people I can’t relate to, that are way more attractive than me.. about to be deafened by a Third Eye Blind playing the kind of songs I wished someone would one day song about to me.