As a teacher, I am quick to mock high school romances and denounce them as nonsensical. I mean, the idea that teenagers think they are in love is just ridiculous, isn’t it? Certainly, the amount of drama that it creates on a daily business is beyond belief. The tears and tantrums from teenage girls every time they have a fight or a break-up with a boy they have been ‘dating’ for a week but is, if you can understand them through the incessant sobbing, apparently the love of their life. Of course, a few days later they have moved on and the emotional outbursts begin again when another week passes and the next relationship has run its course. The fact is that most of these so-called relationships never leave the schoolyard and these ‘couples’ develop despite the fact that, in many cases, neither person has even spoken to the other prior to embarking on their romantic coupling. Of course, there are those high school romances that do run a longer course and may even extend into those initial months immediately after graduation, but the reality is that your high school sweetheart isn’t going to be the person with whom you spend the rest of your life. It is ridiculous to think that somebody could possibly find the love of their life from the small pool of potential candidates they encounter in their high school years. There are literally millions of people in the world from which to seek your ideal partner – assuming of course we buy into the notion that we need a partner at all – so why would any right-minded person limit themselves to a selection made from such a limited range. It doesn’t make any sense. It is the very fact that teenage relationships – whether they are formed within a school context or elsewhere – are not destined to extend into anything substantial that drives young people to engage in behaviours that, whilst denounced by the moral overlords as inappropriate, are perfectly logical under the circumstances. Young people root like rabbits and good luck to them. They are not burdened by the emotional, financial or other such entanglements of the real world and therefore should be taking full advantage of these freedoms. Any teenager who is somehow surprised that their boyfriend/girlfriend has also engaged in sexual behaviours with others (whether it be sexting, blowjobs behind the bike shed or an ‘experimental’ encounter with their best friend) is utterly delusional. Being young is about taking the opportunity to experience the full gamut of physical and emotional experiences and to be tied to a relationship that is never really going to go anywhere seems somewhat perverse.
Having said all that, whenever I think back to my high school relationship, it is with nothing but joy. I spent much of my time in the senior years of high school in a relationship with a pretty amazing woman who remains in my thoughts to this day. I have never understood what she saw in me as we were from different worlds. She lived in Clayfield – home of the social elite – while I was entrenched in a dingy flat in New Farm. I can’t even begin to fathom what she must have thought the first time she arrived at my place but, for whatever reason, she stuck around and we stuck together until the end of high school and beyond. Someone from by background and upbringing could never have imagined finding somebody so amazing who would actually be interested in speaking to me, let alone spending extended periods of time with me. I tried my best to treat her right and let her know how special she was and I was thankful for every moment the relationship lasted. I loved everything about her. I loved the way she looked, I loved her smile, I loved her attitude, her maturity and her willingness to put up with my fucked up family without complaint. I loved her body – her legs, her tits, her ass, her cunt – I loved it all. I loved the fact that she was prepared to fuck me and seemed to enjoy it. What’s more, she was good at it. I thought I was in heaven and that it would never end. I just loved being with her. To their credit, her parents seemed to accept – well tolerate at least – the relationship, so obviously I never wanted it to end. Alas, it was not to be because she eventually realised that there were better options than some loser who had passed over his opportunity to go to University to take a job in the public service. I mean, I didn’t really have much choice as I needed an income, it’s not as though I somehow aspired to a life of mind-numbing boredom that a career as a bureaucrat would bring. It did take me a while – far too long in fact – but I am now firmly entrenched in my career as a teacher and I can’t help but wonder if different choices back then would have made a difference to our relationship. Perhaps this just proves my point in that I was absolutely loyal to her and our relationship and I still wasn’t able to hold on to her. It seems that being young really is about experimenting and having fun, rather than trying to convince yourself that you are in love and binding yourself to the restrictions that such a relationship entails.
She has never been far from my thoughts despite the passing of so many years. I have constantly thought about her, what she was doing, where she ended up, who she ended up with? I was very fortunate to reconnect with her recently after a long search and an endless array of dead ends. She responded positively when I first made contact more than 20 years after our parting and I started thinking that maybe a new friendship might be born. We still talk and communicate sporadically, but my expectations that somehow our history and the fact that we still have a lot in common in the way we think might lead to the development of much stronger friendship were, it seems, somewhat misguided. There is definitely a degree of intimacy and familiarity when we talk and those first conversations after such a long absence seemed natural, open and honest. We have shared details of our lives and experiences in patches, but my attempts to get together and catch up in a more substantial way have been rejected at every turn. Maybe it is just her way of saying “yes, look, I’ll talk to you so as not to appear rude, but the thought of spending time with you again does not appeal at all’. Of course, it might just be that whatever it was that drove her away in the first place is still very much at the forefront of my personality.
The reality is that teenagers are never going to stop ‘falling in love’, so I guess we, as teachers and parents, just have to deal with the histrionics and heartbreaks that go with it. I know the lasting impact these tentative explorations of love and intimacy can have on somebody and perhaps that is the reason I am so quick to denigrate these relationships when I see them develop. Perhaps my cynicism is simply driven by a longing for that time in my own life when everything seemed perfect and all was right with my world.