"A great thing about being single is that a great new relationship may be right around the corner..."
- High Council Speaker, last Sunday's sacrament meeting
Ah, yes, it's that time of year again. As I checked out at the local grocery store this evening, it began to really set in. The palpable energy of youthful vigor has returned with the students of local universities and colleges eagerly purchasing supplies and food for their new apartments and gearing up for another (or their first) semester of classes and activities and of course the bright-eyed animation of wholesome romantic interest leading to wholesome romantic make-out.
What jogged this nostalgic reflection was the almost adorably eager conversation between a fresh-looking young man and a fresh-looking young woman as he bagged her goods. Now, I've been out of college for a while but not so long that I've forgotten the beautiful rush-week energy of innocent romance mingling with pressure-cooker sexual tension. But as I watched these eager youngsters, I couldn't help but feel that I'd missed out on something in my youth by not experiencing that as most people do. Everyone has these things they feel they missed out on. For some, it might be growing up in the same place their whole youth or having family traditions. For others, it's happiness or health or other frivolities. But this one is what we're talking about now because it's my blog and I'll whine like a baby when I want to.
New semesters were exciting: meeting new roommates, going to a new ward full of fresh faces and new friendships, settling into a new apartment, going to the first classes and meeting new professors... And I kind of experienced the romantic thing. I used to joke about each year's "fresh shipment". But somehow, looking back with what I know now, what I've experienced, I realize that it was different for me. I only experienced a portion of twitterpation, not full-on twitterpation. I felt flirty with a very few girls, and that was fun. But it was never "hold me back or I'm going to do something that will land me in the bishop's office and I'm gonna like it." Um...OK, this sounds really shallow. It's not just that.
There's something so stinkin' adorable about the youthful romantic spark. The eagerness, the animation, the hearts aflutter, the bright eyes. I think most people would look with "aw" at such cute interactions, so long as their hands remain in clearly non-petting positions and they don't make suicide pacts over their newfound "love". But when I've experienced that how I imagine most people probably experience it, it's been with decidedly non-female people. I know plenty of BYU students who seem to have no qualms about same-sexing it up (at least in the shadows away from the watchful gaze of the Honor Code Gestapo), but I never felt so inclined to freely engage in twitterpative same-sex activity, even at a non-church school, due to this whole doctrinal belief conflict thing. And if I had done so, most people in my life would have looked at that with some degree of consternation, including myself. It's unnatural. It thwarts eternal destiny and causes the destruction of civilization and makes Aunt Bertha turn in her grave. Dang. That's not cute at all.
No, I didn't eagerly await each new "fresh shipment". For me, the arrival of new students meant a fresh shipment of guys, a newly energetic and virile bunch of hormonal geysers to resist casting in starring roles in my impure thoughts (which would be quickly replaced by the hymns of Zion). I quietly bit my lip day by day as I watched the fresh, tight-bodied new freshman guys throw footballs shirtless all over campus as I tried to quell this queer compulsion to admire their sweaty bods, thus avoiding the accusatory glares which would surely have shot back, while the guy next to me openly admired the beauty of the curvy girls sunning themselves in kitschy splendor, returned by flattered glances which affirmed his masculinity. Each new school year was another time to maintain complete composure when meeting really attractive, nice guys, to force myself to keep my eyes from wandering while walking past the frat houses on sweltering days, and to meet yet more great girls I knew I should be more interested in but somehow...who's the new guy over there? No, stop it: eternal companions have longer hair and more cleavage.
So if you catch me at the checkout stand looking a bit wistfully at the clean-cut, wholesome young romance budding before my eyes, now you know that it's probably just a tender appreciation for the sweet expression of young love and not some ephebophilic fantasy involving the nice young lad. ...though I make no promises if he's irresistably hot and obviously over 18. I'm just sayin'. But for your sanity, just assume it's the former, pinch me if I start to look lost in fantasy, and we'll move on pretending nothing ever happened.