Monthly Archives: December 2016

Part 3: One Day They’ll See…

That I was the One Who Got Away….

Con’t.

As I mentioned before, my ideas of love were mostly informed by juvenile literature and the few PG rated movies I was allowed to watch.

Oct 25, 1994- How I wish Gilbert or Theodore would just come up to me and KISS me! Wouldn’t that be cool. We would stare at each other until someone said “are you gonna kiss her, or just stand there like an idiot?” And he would long and passionately kiss me!

Dec 14, 1994- Today was…WELL…All I want for Christmas is a boyfriend. All the girls except me (and the “immatures”) have one. This is my wish list: Theodore, Gilbert, Andy

First let us stop and appreciate that I called a group of girls in my class “the immatures.” And then went on to list the three human beings on my Christmas list.

Then we must note, for the impressionable children reading this, that my polygamous and sort of adorable boy-craziness would eventually evolve into something unhealthy.

Sometime in sixth grade, I got tough with God and declared that I could not be happy without a boyfriend. My pining took on a religious quality: I had a hole in my heart that only a boy could fill.

I hate to laugh at my depressed middle school self, because she was really, truly miserable.

But it was like my melodrama had reached its pinnacle, and just when it couldn’t have gotten any more overwrought…my steady rivulet of hormones turned into a busted water main. There were hormones spraying into the street and all the little Emotion St. kids were just bathing in them, whooping and hollering. And pining.

August 21, 1995-Now. About my depression. I’m happy sometimes, but when I’m not happy or stressed my mind wanders to oblivion and I find myself depressed and blind. If only I could fill that space in my life where Linus, Rocky, or Theodore belongs. Once I have that place I can get back to my normal personality.

middle-school-dance

One of these entries was most likely penned after this event, a middle school dance. At least one of these fine young men was probably mentioned.

The best part is that I don’t even feel ashamed of the fact that it’s the amorphous idea of romance I’m committed to, not another human being. As long as they know how to deliver embraces and flowers.

If a psychologist had said to me, “Do you think you’re just in love with the idea of being in love?” I would have been like, “Hell, yes.” (But with more exclamation marks and in all caps).

August 24, 1995- So tonight my parents began to understand my life. Open house. They followed my fast, freezing schedule. They understand everything now. Except one things. BOYS. Man, Linus is so incredibly fine. Man, I wouldn’t mind making out with him. He has a temperament very similar to my own. Then there’s Rocky. Wow. Mr. Hollywood himself. Brad Pitt watch out. We talk and argue. I want a real relationship. Not like with Theodore, We never even talked after we “went together.” I want someone who will cuddle me, bring me flowers on my birthday. I want a true boyfriend. And I can’t be totally happy until I do. (Linus #1, Rocky #2, Theodore #3, and Gilbert #4)

Occasionally I did have moments of focus, and even glimmers of self-awareness. Medically inaccurate and dramatic, but aware.

June 8, 1996- I don’t know. I just made an alarming discovery. I think I’m in love with FERRIS BUELLER [remember these are pseudonyms, I wasn’t that kind of crazy]. Can you be in love in 7th grade? Andrea and Colin don’t think so. Zac does. Well, what I’m feeling is called lovesick. I feel like if I don’t hold him close I’ll scream. I don’t have the courage to tell him, because I know he doesn’t like me. AAAUUUUGGGHH! I’m an estrogen freak. I’m a pubescent with a hormone overdose. My estrogen level rises every time I THINK about him. More than anything I want him to love me. The reason he can have me is because he doesn’t want me. I hate that. He’s so cold. He’s playing my emotions like an accordion. SQUEEZE, STRETCH, SQUEEZE, STRETCH. I have feelings, you know! Sigh! 

The only thing that would eventually be more agonizing than not having a boyfriend would be some of the lackluster manchildren I ended up dating when I finally filled the Tarzan-shaped hole in my heart.

June 9, 1999-…The night would have been perfect except that Biff was a jerk. He asked me if I wanted to pay for my meal or not (it was so awkward). Then he asked if he could meet my parents instead of taking me home, because he wanted to spend the night at his friend’s house…

This, 15-year-old Bekah, is dating, that thing you’d been aching, longing, yearning to do for so many years. Rather than tenderly responding to your every emotion, your first asswipe high school boyfriend would require you to leave the tip at every meal (and occasionally suggest that you pay for the whole thing, since he drove), and ask your parents to pick you up half way between your house and his. On the side of the road. 

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Part 2: One Day They’ll See…

…That I was the One Who Got Away

Like most preteen girls who keep diaries, most of my entries were about love. Or rather, boys. There is very little in them about love…or even monogamy. I cast a wide net.

I think at a young age I realized that it was unrealistic to hope for someone smart, funny, handsome and rich. So I narrowed it down to the one criteria that really mattered: cuteness.

This is hardly abnormal. It also persisted into my adult years. I chose my husband based almost solely on looks. His integrity, humor, and creativity were like the little featurettes on a Pixar DVD. Bonus material.

As low as the bar was for choosing my paramours, I did have wildly unrealistic expectations of what comes next. I felt entitled to my fair share of flowers, songs, and “embraces.”

scrapbook-heart-shot

This pretty much sums love up.

My total misunderstanding of love doesn’t stop me from waxing philosophical about it, then or now.

Feb 21, 1995Dear Gosh. I need love. Not family love. Fileo (sic). In other words, I need a boyfriend…

[I should point out here that not only did I misspell the Greek word “phileo,” but I hilariously misuse it. Phileo is the ancient Greek term for brotherly love. Eros, is what I was thinking of here, but it would be years before I understood what that meant. Thankfully.]

…Someone who will bring me flowers and take me to dinner.You can only live on one tank of oxygen for so long. Soon you need another tank. It is like that with love. First you can live on just family love. Then you need your second tank, fileo (sic…again) (a boyfriend). Or a baby, they can live on liquid for the first while but then they need solid food, fileo (sic,sic,sic). I NEED A BOYFRIEND.

I am 11 here, and apparently intent on dating a well-paid 30-year-old. I don’t specifically mention his Benz, but I’m pretty sure that’s how we would have traveled to dinner. 

 Most entries were passionate, pining odes to the boy(s) on whom I had hopeless crushes. Followed, almost immediately by scathing death wishes upon those same ignorant dickheads.

The narrative I would later write for myself has me as a hapless, unlucky-in-love nerd up until high school, when I “got cool” (read: I figured out my hair and got a waistline, and boys figured out that they liked boobs).

Actually though, I started strong.

I had a “boyfriend” before most of my friends. He even spoke to me. Once. To tell me he liked me.

(Note: I’ve changed the names from these entries to maintain some deniability in case any of these guys somehow didn’t know I had a crush on them. I assume most of them did, but I think we’d all like to be able to pretend we have no idea who I’m talking about. They are now named after the male characters from childhood fiction they most resemble.)

May 6, 1993- He likes me! Theodore likes me! He said it to my face! Next thing you know he’ll be asking me out. What a man.

tom-cruise-collage

Is it too much to ask? Really?

After Theodore, most of my crushes matched the rest of my developing body: uneven, nearsighted, and volatile.

Feb 8, 1994 [ After a week of entries about loving Gilbert]-I CANNOT STAND GILBERT! He is a jock. Today I managed to put his foot in his mouth by stepping on his foot so hard he limped. But if he does it one more time I’ll fix him for good. I want respect and I”m going to get it. So if he wants to see how hard I can hit, HECK, he’s gonna see the hard way. IN BETWEEN HIS EYES.

Feb 9, 1994-I have a split personality. Part of me wants to sock GILBERT and the other wants to kiss him. But he better not mess with me or the NEGATIVE side will take over.

Feb 10, 1994 -MY POSITIVE SIDE TOWARD GILBERT TOOK OVER. YEA.

I should also point out that fourth grade was the beginning of my conflicted body image. Thanks to my steady diet of young adult fiction, I used to fantasize about my “tiny frame” being “scooped up” in an embrace or daring rescue.

That will never happen.

I’ve never been one of those waif-like feather people, or what you would call “tiny.” In high school, I could literally bench press my boyfriend. Actually, my boyfriend plus 14 pounds.

In fourth grade I started toying with feminism, as an alternative to waif-damsel I would never be. Not knowing how to channel my big emotions through my new “tough girl” filter, I did a lot of things that I now understand to be abusive. But this was before the days of “no means no” and on the tail end of the “give them some boxing gloves and let them solve it in the gym” era, thus I have no criminal charges. 

A mere two months after my Cybil-meets-“Gilbert” episode, our friends from Alabama came to visit. I had a brief history with the middle son, and his occasional visits were a temporary distraction from my otherwise busy calendar of alternating hate and lust.

April 4, 1994- Oh Lord, Dear Lord. Help me! Have mercy on me! I ache in my heart. I love Andy like NO ONE else. And if I’m correct he loves me. But he’s leaving Wednesday. Today’s Monday. I want to tell him I love him but time is rushing us.

April 5, 1994- Dear Lord, Andy is leaving tomorrow, but I won’t get to see him. Lord, WHY WHY!?! I know you’re in control and you don’t want me to hurt, but Lord, I DO.

April 6, 1994- Today Andy left. But I’m not too sad.

As fickle as most of my emerging adolescent affections were, I was actually pretty loyal to Theodore. I carried the torch for him 2nd through 4th grade, long after we had exchanged the only two words of our entire relationship, the first of which happened somewhere around the end of 2nd grade.

Unfortunately the details of the account are lost to the labor-intensive nature of crafting sentences at age eight. Most of my entries from 2nd grade sound like a transcription of things overhead at a sorority party at 3am. 

April 10, 1992 – Guess what. Theodore TALKED to me. But just because Annika is being rude I cannot use the phone. Miss King said I could not use my scissors on the test. 

Sadly, there are many more diary entries with the line, in all caps, “HE TALKED TO ME.” I think the last one was in college. I’m not kidding. My freshman year of college, I found a piece of lost mail belonging to my impossibly good-looking crush. I returned it, and he said, “thank you.” And I lost. my. shit.

Anyway, back in 1994, Theodore, like most devastatingly handsome 9-year-olds, went on to garner many admirers. As my writing sped up, I was also able to preserve more details before bedtime.  

May 2, 1994-Gosh, lots of people like Theodore. He’s my boyfriend (if he still likes me). Today Abby H. comes up and bragingly says, “Guess what. I’m in love with Theodore. He doesn’t like you anymore!” Two thoughts went through my head. 1) He probably likes me more than YOU 2) So? It’s not like you’re engaged to be married!

For the record, neither I, nor Abby H. ever went on to be engaged to Theodore. Neither do I have any idea who he liked more at the time.

To be continued…

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One Day They’ll See…

Prologue:

My journals, dating back to age seven, alternately chronicle my most unflattering and unfiltered thoughts, and the banalities of my day. Mixed in, for flavor, is a fair smattering of misused multi-syllable words and overwrought prayers, finally adding up to the most condescending shitlist ever penned by someone who dots her “i’s” with hearts.

I read some passages aloud to my husband, brother-in-law, and sister (who features prominently in my best diatribes). My sister spent most of the time confirming that I was, yes, a total bitch growing up, and that what I thought were my most hidden thoughts, were really pretty obvious to everyone. My husband and brother in law both said that the diary sounded like it was written by an adult trying to imagine what a little girl’s diary should sound like.

glamor-shot

And here I am imagining what a glamorous adult would look like. Age 8.

Being raised on a steady diet of young adult fiction and The Baby Sitters Club, my internal narrator was, in fact, an adult writing in the voice of a child. Only I was a child. So my journals are written in the voice of a child mimicking the voice of an adult writing as a child.

Around 5th grade I started reading the classics, including Little Women, multiple times. I start more than one journal in a deliberately classical tone, imagining myself, I’m sure, writing by lamplight in a dressing gown.

Jan 1, 1995- Well, I’m starting off enough new year of hopes, dreams, friends, family, etc. I hope I will make new friends. I dream of my “castle in the sky” from Little Women. Friends and family, well, they’ve been the same for a while now…I play piano. My practice sessions leave a tiny bit to be desired…You might say I’m a teachers pet. I’m darn proud of it. I have two sisters, Annika, 6, and Kierstn, 3. By the way, my name is Bekah Annell Stolhandske.”

Taking my cue from adolescent literature, I treat my diary like a trusted friend. Or rather, a friend with zero boundaries, who repays my constant whining by dangling obligation over my head.

Daily journals were the worst. I remember a constant sense of guilt as a I scribbled random, inconsequential thoughts before bedtime, just to have attended to the glaring blank space. Several entries begin with apologies for not writing. After a few missed or slapdash entries in a row, I get passive aggressive with my diary.

March 2, 1994- Listen, I have a lot to do! Okay? I gotta go.

That is literally all that is written on March 2.

It’s clear throughout that I have what would be called in adolescent fiction vernacular an “indomitable spirit.” In plain English, I was full of myself.

The prevailing sentiment seems to be one of misunderstood genius, unrealized potential, and untapped stores of romantic energy. In short: I was never given the credit I was due, a would-be starlet surrounded by imbeciles. (See photo above…)

The diaries are on the one hand, things I would never want anyone to read. Whiny, misanthropic diatribes and embarrassing secrets (one from my 3rd grade year simply reads “I pooped in my bed last night”). On the other hand, the woes of misunderstood genius, and the generally affected tone indicate that I actually did intend for these to be read one day.

One entry in particular does away with any pretense of intended privacy:

January 1, 1996

It’s 1996! This is the last entry to this diary. I have REALLY enjoyed this diary. This book is to hold all of my secrets, and maybe some day when I’m famous people will pay money to read this and publish it so this is very important.

Of course, a girl needs a place to actually keep her secrets…so I often kept more than one diary at a time. One for the general public and one to be burnt. Those uncensored journals disappeared along the way. I distinctly remember tearing all the pages out of one of them. I might have forgotten about them entirely except for occasional confessions in my SFW diaries.

May 25, 1995

Well. I thought I could trust my two best friends in the world not to look at my other diary about who I like and go tell it. Then today I had to go to the park with them. Luckily I could keep an eye out for blabbs.

I’m sure I imagined the sanitized diaries would market as a highly selective collection of entries offering a glimpse into my precocious beginnings as a philosopher and story teller, filled with obvious portents of my future in the bright lights.

4th-grade-school-picture

Nine years old and clearly destined for greatness.

Instead, they have become a source of late night entertainment while we are drinking. In college I nearly threw them away in shame, but I’m glad I kept them. Not only to give me insight into my own daughter as she navigates the Class V hormone rapids of middle school, but to remind myself from whence I have come. The thoughts recorded in the journals are embarrassingly familiar. I now dress them in more socially acceptable verbiage, but I still feel like the unrecognized genius for more often than my work merits.

The journal covers thoughts on God, love, family, justice, money, friendship, and the agonies of childhood. And it does so with almost zero insight, at surprisingly shallow levels, for the most part. Aside from a few sad accounts of wounds that are now old scars, there is nothing moving or poignant in these tomes.

If there is one heartwarming or profound takeaway, it is this: Reading through the journals, I’m released to let my freak flag fly a little higher, because it’s hard to outdo the ignoble musings now forever preserved in writing.

So, in honor of 1996 Bekah, I’m publishing the highlights here, as a series of blog posts over the coming weeks. I hope you are horrified. Please don’t stop being my friend.

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