Dear me at 14:
You’re away from home unsupervised by family for really the first extended period of time in your life. Surrounded by like-minded friends, you are 100% in your element. You’re also about to meet a new friend. you don’t know it yet, but he’s about to change your reality, once and for all. You’re going to strike up a random conversation over dinner, and you’re going to discover that there are teenage boys in this world with brains, humor and really cute laughs all in one package. You’re going to be done for.
But honey, let me tell you on the other side of 15 years: he’s not the only one out there.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. this guy is going to be one of your closest allies, through thick and thin. You’re going to tell each other everything, and you’re going to be proud to call him your “big brother.” But if you’re smart, and I hope you are, you will not put this boy on a pedestal.
When you’re young, as you are, you see the world in absolutes. Everything is absolutely perfect, or it’s absolutely disastrous. and in your eyes, this boy is PERFECT. In some ways, that’s true; he might be your only true personality analogue in this world. But he is NOT the only smart, sarcastic male on the face of the earth. Not only that, he is not the archetype for the perfect man. If you aren’t careful, your admiration for your new friend will inform every dating choice you make. And he’s just not that into you, sweetie. Not that way. He wants a sister, not a lover.
Trust me on this one; I know. There will be attempts to push the envelope. They will involve awkwardly worded e-mails over AOL, because it will be the mid-1990s. There will be longing stares. You’ll even set him up with a friend of yours. You’ll watch them with each other while you sit by and think about how it should be you in the front seat of his car, laughing at his jokes (only your laughter would be genuine).
As the years go by, there will be times when you’re both so heartbroken and lonely that lines will be crossed. These times will cause so many more problems than they help. I’m telling you now that this will seem like a great idea at the time, every time it happens. It’s never a great idea. You’ll learn that his snappy lines, just like yours, hide some things you’d rather not touch. There’s a reason why you’re such good friends; you both hurt the same way.
So love that boy. Keep him close to your heart. He’ll come in handy more times than you could ever imagine. But know that just because he showed you for the first time what a guy can be, that doesn’t make him the only option. Keep your eyes open. Never settle.
Magnolia is a born-again city kid raised on the gulf coast and living in DC. She’s studying to be a tax lawyer when she grows up, which she expects to happen just any day now. She loves sports, men, and music, topics she explores over at http://magnolia-thoughts.blogspot.com.