When We Were Young


Best Thing I Never Had

The first two boys I kissed work together cutting trees. They’re still best friends – I think. And I wonder if they ever talk about me. That a girl came between them once, a very long time ago. And I want to ask Jonas if he ever loved me.

One of the most beautiful men I have ever met became a junkie, and the sparkle from his hazel eyes withered. Once, I sat on the back of his motorcycle and thought, I hope we crash into a truck and die together. Because I knew and he knew that I knew that he was head over heels for a mysterious blonde tomboy who came into town from the Canary Islands with a Czech name. That much I knew – that I wanted him because I could never have him. Then I thought of Saint Lucia, with her eyes on a silver platter, and of Dr Disraeli from Earl Cain by Kaori Yuki, who loved all things ephemeral he could never own. Destroying all things beautiful and fragile because he thought they would never love him back quite the same.

The woman I idolised during my teens settled. For a guy called Kevin who is beneath her. For a job that doesn’t go anywhere. For her father’s Royal Dutch Shell money from the Congo. It never hit me, that she was going nowhere with her life and that’s maybe why she looked so strong and pretty. Like a doe lost in the middle of the Champs-Elysées.

Teenage Dreams

The fourteen-year old Dutch boy who insisted “in Holland, we fuck at thirteen”, and who ten years later, proposed to marry me as a joke, had a child in Sicily. With a women ten years his senior. I’m still not sure why, but I’m angry at him. At a future that was never mine and which I don’t want.

A lanky pre-teen Belgian who shyly asked me if I wanted to date him turned up with a low, raspy voice and shoulders large enough for a lion to lay on. He is less blond than he used to be, but the curls still twirl as he swings his head from side to side, and I wondered, maybe, just maybe, what I see in Dutch boys is a longing for the childhood I missed. Or perhaps, I see his father, whom I found equally beautiful, the bohemian who used to ride his Harley around Rajasthan and who laughed when a shy girl told him he looked like a philosopher.

Then there was Sebastian, the German-French boy who I found too beautiful that he surely, would never love me. He is an accountant at Google, and sometimes I look at his LinkedIn page, wondering if he ever thought about me through the years. And I think, we could have walked past each other in Dublin last year, and not even recognised each other. Sometimes I rehearse an apology fourteen years too late and sit down with him at an imaginary café in Strasbourg, and he tells me that it’s alright because he never loved me anyway – It was all a pre-teen concoction. Deep inside, I wish he’s remained single throughout the years because I mean as much to him as he did to me then, and then still today.

It Will Rain / I Kissed A Girl

Boarding schools sometimes have non-boarding students. They might be called daytime students. A minivan would pick twelve of us every morning at 6:45 and drop us off at 22:30. There was a girl I saw in the van who took Japanese and was in a different class. We never got to talk to each other except to complain about how late the bus was. One night, as we leaned into the van, lowering out tiny bodies into the seats, and I thought: I want to kiss her. Here and now.

I didn’t kiss a girl until last Friday.