1. excessive sexual desire.
2. a delusion in which a person (typically a woman) believes that another person (typically of higher social status) loves them.
Chapter One: My First Love, My First Addiction
From as early as I can remember, in my mind, I have lived in a fantasy world filled with romance. I got my references from the movies and television shows I watched as a kid. I remember the first time I spotted a boy in school and decided that I loved him. His name was Cory. He was different than the other kids, so much that they teased him quite often. He was quiet, and whenever he did speak, he was very soft-spoken. He was very polite and just an overall kind little kid.
I spent a lot of time thinking about him, reading into some of the things he did and said, hoping that it meant he loved me too. Nothing ever came of it. He never really talked to me, and I barely spoke to him. I would defend him against the bullies who made fun of him in class, but that's as far as it would go. My family moved to another neighborhood, and I transferred to another school. I never saw him again. Our "love" never stood a chance.
My first real-life romance began when I was just eight years old. Brandon was his name. I barely noticed him in the beginning. One day, in my 4th-grade class, I aimlessly looked up from my desk and in his direction. To my surprise, it appeared that he had already been looking at me. That was the first time in my life that I had seen what people call "googly eyes."
As soon as he noticed that I had seen him, he looked away. So I also looked away. Then he stared at me again. I looked up at him again, and the cycle restarted a few more times until I felt too uncomfortable to look at him anymore. He was shameless. He started doing the eye thing every day. I liked it, but I was shy. I would only look at him once a day, and then I told myself I wouldn't do it again. Sometimes I could commit to this once-a-day agreement. Other days, I would sneak a peek to see if he was still looking at me. He was. It wasn't long before the other students began to notice. They would soon after inform me that Brandon was not the guy for me.
He had a reputation for eating his boogers.
This little anecdote didn't dissuade me from falling in love with him. It was those darn eyes; his pursuit gave me butterflies, and it made me feel special. I felt like Darla, and he was my Alfalfa. I was always a bit of a loner as a kid. Not that I was short on offers to play with the other children, I didn't want to. I would often wander around the playground alone during recess. Most of the time, I would go out onto the baseball field and walk around the whole thing while thinking about Brandon. I would wonder what could be going through his mind when he looked at me in class. I would wonder why he hadn't made an effort to talk to me. I would see him on the playground or basketball court just standing and watching me. He was hard to miss. In a mass of screaming and running children, he just stood there - staring.
I started bringing books and journals to school with me to better occupy my time during the recess period. I would sit in one of the dugouts on the baseball field, write about my life, and oh, what a life I had lived by eight years old. I'd also write about Brandon. I would often be so focused on whatever I was reading or writing that I wouldn't notice when the other kids were all leaving the schoolyard. Sometimes an adult would have to come over and let me know that it was time to go back inside for lunch. One day, while profoundly focused on writing, suddenly, I felt someone sit beside me. I looked up, and it was Brandon. My heart dropped to my feet. I can't remember our conversation because it was so long ago, but I remember that he was much more confident than he appeared to be. He seemed to be so sure of himself that it was hard to imagine that he ever ate a booger. He had become my boyfriend from that day forward.
We exchanged romantic stares in class more often, and at recess, we would spend all of our time together - walking and talking. The adults who monitored the recess period had grown even more concerned about my social skills than they had been before I had started spending the hour with Brandon. I thought that having him around would get them off my back, but it only shifted their concern to the relationship. I believe that it was at this point that my addiction to love began. I became addicted to the dopamine high I felt whenever he looked at me or talked to me. The butterflies I felt whenever we would hold hands. The pride I would feel when his friends wanted him to play basketball, and he told them he'd rather be with me instead. All through the weekends and during summer vacation, I would think about all the conversations and moments we shared during school. Just thinking about him would cause the butterflies to flare up again. I would hold my pillow at night and wish that it was him.
The following school year, Brandon and I would be in separate classes. I was devastated. I missed his stares from across the classroom. But he knew exactly how to make up for it. My desk was conveniently placed in a spot that put me in the field of vision of anyone in the hallway walking towards the classroom. He started asking his teacher if he could use the bathroom so that he could see me. He would step into my field of vision, stop, and stare. Somehow I would feel him there, look up, and smile. We went back to our same break-time routine, and nothing had changed other than that he had grown taller and much more attractive, in my opinion.
A few weeks into the school year, I noticed that Brandon had stopped the hallway visits. I thought maybe the teacher had caught on to it and refused to let him leave the classroom. Then I heard that a new girl had transferred to our school. She was in his class. Within days of this discovery, Brandon had moved on. My first heartbreak was brutal. He didn't even have the decency to break it off with me officially. He just started holding hands with her in the hallways of the school. I was alone again. I remember getting home and crying so hard that my eyes became swollen.
The women in my family knew about Brandon, and they had suspected that I was upset over the boy, but no one dared to say it to me. I supposed they figured my heart would heal itself. It was my babysitter, Genie, who finally got me to confide in her about the whole situation. In tears, I described the new girl and what Brandon had done. Genie had a plan. Halloween was just around the corner, and my school was having a costume party in the lunchroom, which was also happened to be our school's auditorium. A room equipped with a stage and a laminated dance floor could appear once the lunch tables were folded and rolled out of the room.
She told me that she had the perfect Halloween costume to make Brandon regret what he had done. Her house was just a few doors away, so she jumped up and ran over to grab it. I remember not understanding how a Halloween costume could help me gain the upper hand in this situation. I had no concept of the "F-em dress" or the "revenge body" that I grew to learn about later on in life. But when she came back and opened the garment bag, suddenly it began to make sense.
There laying across the bed, was the most beautiful pure white formal gown that I had ever seen. Genie wore this gown during her days as a beauty pageant princess. She was saving it for her daughter (who was a toddler at the time), but she said that I could borrow it and be Cinderella for Halloween. She knew that it would be a little too big for me, but she said that she would pin it in such a way that no one would notice. She promised to do my hair, apply makeup, and she said I could also wear her crown. I was elated.
The party was a few days away, and everyone at school was still talking about what happened between Brandon, the new girl, and me. The girls in my grade would walk up to me and ask me if I was okay with the whole situation. Though I was still sore about the break-up, I found strength in Genie's action plan. I never let anyone see me sweat. I wrote all about it in my diary during the recess period. I needed to avoid looking up and accidentally making eye contact with anyone, especially him. Because yes, Brandon would still stare at me, and yes, the new girl, Tameka, noticed.
One day, she and her girl posse walked over to me at the dugout. She pretended to try to smooth things over, but each word still came out condescending. I sat there in silence, just staring at her as she talked. She waited for a response but, I didn't say anything but, "Okay." I can't quite remember what her answer was. I remember the blank look of confusion on her face as she stared at me and waited for me to say more. She and her girls stormed away, and as they did, she said something that alluded to the fact that she'd decided I was strange and that it's probably the reason why Brandon had dumped me.
On the day of the party, Genie came to my house early in the morning to curl my hair. It was beautiful. I remember thinking that everyone would be making a spectacle out of my "doo" at school that day. She said that to avoid any damage, she would bring the gown and makeup to school and help me get dressed before the party. I was excited. As I suspected, when I got to school, I received dozens of compliments and questions about my hairstyle. I believe that Tameka was on to me. I saw her pointing in my direction and looking at me as she stood with her friends at lunchtime.
Later that day, I was in class, and in my peripheral vision, I saw someone standing in the hallway. I looked, and it was Brandon. He was staring, but this time his eyes were full of regret. I got up and moved my desk over so that he couldn't see me from where he was standing. My friends whom I always sat near during class told me that he was still standing there. He then walked over to the classroom door, but far enough so that the teacher couldn't see him, and he continued to stare. I refused to look up. Eventually, he left. My girlfriends raved about this throughout the remainder of the class.
Finally, the time came for Genie to show up with the costume. I could not contain my excitement when she arrived in the doorway of the classroom. I jumped out of my seat immediately. She and I crept to the girl's bathroom. She instructed me to go into one of the stalls and put on the gown while pulling out the makeup. Suddenly other girls started pouring into the bathroom. They were surprised to see an adult and a crown. So they immediately began asking her questions. I dreaded coming out of the stall. I tried to wait as long as I could, but they were not budging. When I went out of the bathroom stall, all I could hear were gasps and shrieks of joy. "Are you going to be a princess for Halloween?" one of the girls asked. I nodded my head and walked over to Genie, who was already holding the crown in her hands and gesturing me to come over so that she could put it on my head. She then zipped up my dress and adjusted it a little so that it would fit me better.
I expected the girls to leave soon after the shrieks died down, but it's not often that 9-year-old girls get to see makeup applied. So they stood there in silence and watched as Genie applied the makeup to my face. "Go look in the mirror." She said once she had finished. I walked over to the mirror, and though I could not see the gown, I was amazed by how beautiful I looked from the neck up. Even though my curls had almost wholly fallen, I liked it. It gave me a more mature look which is what all little girls seem to want. I had never seen myself with lipstick and mascara on. I knew that this was going to kill Brandon, and I was starting to feel nervous. We exited the bathroom, and the girls dispersed to the party, leaving Genie and me in the hallway. She helped me walk down the stairs to the auditorium because the dress was so long. She and I made it to the door of the party when suddenly I felt nervous about going in. She told me that she had gotten me this far, and now I was on my own until the party was over. We shared a hug, and I watched as she walked down the hallway and disappeared around the corner.
I took a deep breath and reluctantly walked into the party. It's safe to say that all eyes were on me. I noticed that no one else had seemed to go all out for this party as I did. The kids were wearing masks; some had face paint, others were in just regular clothing. I remember feeling somewhat humiliated by this feeling that my effort to upstage the new girl was too apparent and that my costume was a little too much. The girls collectively began to swarm me as I walked further into the room, including Tameka and her friends. They were asking me who I was supposed to be ("Are you Cinderella?") and inquiring about how I got permission to wear actual makeup. Tameka apologized to me for her role in the Brandon love triangle and asked if I wanted to be friends. (Oh, how I love kids.) I promptly accepted her offer, and we were frienemies from that point on. (Even in Highschool.)
When the crowd finally dispersed and resumed the activities of the costume party, suddenly I spotted Brandon, who was again staring. He attempted to walk over to me, but it seemed like every time he did, another person would beat him to it. I believe that we did talk eventually, but I can't remember that part of the night. It was so long ago. However, I remember that it was there at the party when I realized I didn't want Brandon back anyway. Something was liberating about being Cinderella for a night. I realized I didn't need a Prince Charming. (If only I had maintained that mindset later in my life.) I was spectacular all on my own. I had sworn off boys for good and swore that I would reserve romance for my diary, but I would never actually fall in love ever again. Little did I know. Once an addict, always an addict.