“I’m proud of you for chasing your dreams with the same determination that you used to chase pop-punk 14-year-old boys.”
My friend Chloe sent me that sweet birthday note on Monday, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. For context, she said this because my friend Katie had posted a photo of me (which shall never be posted here) chasing after my crush at church camp the summer after 9th grade. Me, in my tube top, legs skinnier than toothpicks, chasing after a boy who’s rocking a bright graphic t-shirt, chunky non-prescription glasses, and neon pink hair. While the photo is permanently burned into my memory, it’s Chloe’s comment that has really stuck with me.
I think Chloe gave me a little more credit than I deserve–because I used to chase after pop-punk 14-year-old boys really, really hard. Like it was my job. Like school was the full-time job I took just to pay the rent, and chasing pop-punk “hotties” was my side-hustle passion that I dreamed of doing for a living one day.
Allow me to tell you a story that shows how true this really is. The year was 2007. The soundtrack to our lives was The Academy Is… and Fall Out Boy. Our jeans were skinny, our eyeliner was winged, and there was one thing on our minds: finding a man with the perfect swoop. That elusive, perfect, swoon-worthy hairstyle–bangs that cut across a forehead diagonally to fall across one eye oh so mysteriously. I knew that if I found a man with the perfect swoop, all my dreams would come true. (See photo below)
So when my friends and I spotted a group of dapper young men hanging out by the carnival games at ValleyScare, and one of them had the perfect swoop, we knew we had to make our move.
I believe we entered ValleyScare that night with high hopes that this moment would come. Anyone who grew up in Minnesota can testify that ValleyScare is the hot spot to find a boo before those long winter months. Or at least the place to see a person you might want to make your boo if you weren’t so shy. ValleyScare, which during the summer months is just regular old ValleyFair, is like a Six Flags in suburban Minnesota, but with tons of fog machines and guys in masks trying to jump-scare you. Something about the darkness, the mystery, and the fear makes it a place ripe with romantic possibility.
The boys by the carnival game looked like fun. I can’t remember now who in our group initiated the approach, but initiate they did, and next thing I knew, we were waiting in line to ride the Wild Thing with a bunch of hotties from Wisconsin. My dreams were coming true.
One of the boys stuck out of the crowd especially. His name was Anthony. Of course, he was the one with the perfect swoop. Today, I can remember nothing about him aside from his name, his hairstyle, and his being from Wisconsin. The other boys are like a blur in the background of a photograph–I remember them as supporting actors, backup band members all to support the lead man. I barely remember anything about our conversations. I’m pretty sure that being in such close proximity to a perfect swoop sent me into a fugue state. All I know is that we rode the Wild Thing, ValleyFair’s tallest rollercoaster, together, and then we said our goodbyes. We didn’t exchange phone numbers, and I can’t remember why. I chalk it up to pre-teen nerves. We just disappeared into the night, rushing away to our ride home like Cinderella to her chariot.
But my friend Sarah and I couldn’t let Anthony go. Determined to find him, we turned to our trusted search engine, MySpace, and launched an FBI-level investigation to track down the swoop that got away. We spent the next two weeks scouring MySpace searching for every Anthony in Wisconsin, sifting through profile after profile, investigating any profile picture somewhat resembling our man. Sarah even went so far as to message a few promising contenders. But alack, we had no luck. Anthony from Wisconsin was never heard from again.
So when Chloe says that I chase my dreams with this same level of determination, I have to pause and consider if that’s true. In this story with Anthony, I am brave. I am bold. I am a little crazy. I am obsessed. Hormones definitely helped here, but I still have to wonder: how consistently am I brave, bold, crazy, and obsessed when it comes to my dreams?
My sincere hope for everyone reading this is that we would pursue our life’s calling with, as Chloe said, the determination that I used to chase after pop-punk 14-year-old boys with the perfect swoop.
Now that I’ve divulged this story about hottie hunting, I want to know the craziest thing you did to meet a potential mate in your youth. Write it in the comments below–let’s swap stories!