This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment, the online community writing site for young readers and writers.
By Ali Hessel
My first relationship was in the third grade.
No really. Third grade. I had a relationship with a boy. Our mothers took us to McDonald’s. We sat in one corner and made them sit in the other corner, far away from us. We talked about all kinds of things, mostly the other kids in our classes. He gave me the toy from his happy meal.
I kept the toy. It’s sitting in The Breakup Box. The Box holds all the remnants of my past relationships. It sits under my bed, tucked under a floorboard that doesn’t quite hide it. As I sit here, pulling out the artifacts I’ve kept for years and years, I wonder what I saw in all those boys.
At the time, they seemed like good ideas. Drake dumped me after two weeks. Then in sixth grade, when kids started to, you know, like-like each other, I found Tommy. He was on the track team. We dated for two days. He bought me ice cream. When he dumped me for his ex and I was finished crying to my mother about it, the spoon went into the Box.
I found someone in seventh grade. Jake was an older man. Thirteen. My friends couldn’t believe it. He was mature, about to go to high school, but he liked me. We dated all summer long. He spent a lot of time at the park with me and we spent hours and hours talking on the phone together. The next year, I was shocked to find out that he had been cheating on me. He never broke up with me officially. Since I spent so much time on the phone with him, it went into the Box.
I could go on forever about my relationships throughout the years. How Jordan gave me the ball after he won the football game. How Brian gave me tissues with little hearts on them when I cried at my grandpa’s funeral. The CDs Andrew made for me. I kept them all. It became my little ritual: whenever a boy breaks up with me, I cry and do the generic post-break-up dance, then I put his shit into the Box, put it away, and get over myself.
I’m about to go to college. I’m about to break up with my boyfriend. I wonder, does he have a Box? Will my stuff go in it? Do I leave stuff behind in relationships? I try to remember all the way back to third grade and I can’t recall ever giving anyone anything. They all gave me gifts; I never gave them anything worthwhile.
Maybe that’s it. The reason it never worked out between all of those boys and me: they tried to give me tangible things.
They taught me to measure my love in material goods rather than in feelings. Hopefully this will be the year that I, Emerson Jameson, find love for love’s sake and not for the amount of stuff I receive.