Lately, I’ve been feeling nostalgic. Maybe it’s working in an actual middle school and trying to unclog fifteen years worth of memories to remember what it felt like to be that age.
Honestly, middle school was terrible. Is it ever good for anyone? That’s the time when kids become terrible because they’re trying to be cool and going through all of the hormonal changes, which just makes them all terrible people for a few years. I was bullied in seventh grade but things got a little better in eighth grade. Then I was free to go to high school, yay!
Eighth grade was probably my defining year. I changed a lot that year and went from being obsessed with Titanic to being obsessed with Harry Potter…and Beanie Babies, but I don’t talk about that. The summer between my eighth and ninth grade year was the first time I ever became seriously obsessed over a boy.
Nobody really knows this. I honestly don’t think I ever told anyone outside of the Internet that existed at that time. For some reason, at the beginning of that summer, I became obsessed with a young Canadian actor named Ben Cook. It makes me laugh really hard now because things are so different and I’m different. If any of you grew up in the late 90’s/early 2000’s and are from Canada or watched Fox Family a lot, then you know what I’m talking about.
I’m not sure what happened, even to this day, that made me so obsessed with him. I watched a kind of crappy adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men that had him in it, and it hit me like WOW. Who was this adorable ruffian with eyes like the sea after a storm? The Internet sucked in terms of information back then, but I did my best, darn it, to find out everything I could about him.
And that summer was sort of…wasted. I mean, I was 14 years old. I had just got out of the prison of middle school and didn’t want to think about high school just yet. I was going through all of the early teen emotions and Lizzie McGuire just GOT what I was going through, you know? I became a slave to my emotions. I sat around, dreaming about this random boy and what would happen if he somehow moved to Kentucky and we became friends and then something more…
Yes, that’s exactly what happened. I am not making any of this up, and writing this now, I really wish I was because it’s sort of embarrassing. Ben, if you’re out there reading this, you had a huge fan back in the day. I’m so sorry.
Getting back to now, I’ve been nostalgic, thinking back to that time, listening to music I listened to back then. There was one song I loved (it was a country song because I listened to a lot of country back then) called “Grow Young With You” by Coley McCabe featuring Andy Griggs. I think it was on the Where the Heart Is soundtrack. WHY DO I KNOW THESE THINGS? This particular song defines that point in my life. All of those feelings came flooding back when I listened to it on YouTube just now. I felt like a 9th grader all over again.
Back then, I dreamed of finding a cute, nice, funny boy that would somehow appear and we’d become friends and then gradually it would become more before sharing our first kiss one day in the rain. I dreamed of countless times, and of course, it didn’t happen. I wrote a lot of one page love stories back then.
I think part of me still wants that. I think that’s why relationships are hard for me. That’s why “dating” and the concept of it is hard for me. Because I’m still waiting for that cute, nice, funny boy to appear so we can become friends and then more than friends and have our first kiss in the rain.
But on the other hand, I’m not. I’m not waiting around for a boy like I did back then. I’m not waiting for adventure to find me, I’m seeking it. I’m here in a country that, fifteen years ago, I knew almost nothing about. Middle School Laura would probably freak out if she knew I was here and be all, “Japan? Why Japan??? Are you into Pokemon now??????”
Having a love interest isn’t as important to me now as it was back then.
What’s important is that I’m here, doing something.