The Lie that Started My Writing Career

In sixth grade, I was a die hard—hold the boombox above my head outside her window—hopeless romantic.  I enjoyed watching romantic comedies, my favorite radio station was soft rock mix 92.9 (deeellliiiilllaaahhh), and I would sing the song “Faithfully” by Journey in my room alone. There it is. That’s all you need to know.

I’ll give you a minute to lol…

There was a girl named Rae in our 7th grade class and well… I had a major crush on her. She was also dating one of my best friends (Konrad) and though I repeatedly denied my affections towards her—looking back now it’s pretty darn obvious I wanted to date that girl.

Rae was deep—she wrote poetry, listened to Dashboard Confessional, and had a high school aged sister. Konrad was cool—he listened to Nirvana, had really long hair, and was unnaturally physically strong (must have had something to do with having 5 younger siblings and the last name of Custer). 

Rae used to write her poetry on small college ruled pieces of paper folded into a thousand different ways that she would pass to me in between classes or during boring parts of French class. She never folded the paper into normal shapes.

Side note: I don’t know where middle school girls learned to fold paper before youtube, but somehow the paper triangles and paper boxes spread throughout all of PGS. 

I loved reading her poetry—not because I liked poetry or because it was especially good (not that it was bad, I just don’t remember), but because it made me feel close to her. Letting someone read your poetry is like letting them read a somewhat coded page of your journal. Or at least that’s what it felt like. I would devour those notes like bits of secret information. I didn’t pour over them the way English majors talked about swimming in the words of Thoreau, I ate them like TMZ gossip.

One day Rae asked me if I ever wrote poetry and I lied.

“Yeah, I write poetry all the time,” I said.

Truth is, aside from 8 year old songwriting and mandatory school essays, I didn’t write. And I certainly didn’t write poetry. So I lied to Rae so that she would think I was deep, because apparently listening to Dashboard Confessional wasn’t enough to get a girl to like you over Konrad. Realistically, I never had a shot—Konrad was and is one of the coolest guys I know.

So I started writing poetry to impress Rae—to make her think I was deep. But then something amazing happened and I fell in love with it. All of a sudden I had a vehicle for all these emotions and energies that stuck to me like jelly around the rim of the jar. And Rae loved my crappy poetry which further affirmed I was God's gift to the literary world. 

Writing hasn’t so much made me more emotional or self aware so much as it’s given me a more productive and less embarrassing mode of self expression than talking about myself all the time. Even as I write those words I realize how narcissistic it sounds.

Konrad and Rae would break up eventually and though we all thought it was the end of the world at the time—it wasn’t.

I’m doing my best to stop trying to wrap up my blog posts with neat little bows when they don’t need them. The truth is life’s messy and just because I discovered a lifelong passion out of trying to impress a girl doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a universal lesson there. But then again…