Freshman year, it was John. Sophomore year, Justin. Then Stephanie and Teddy. And, finally, the only two-termer, Phil, during both years of grad school.
A list of my conquests, you ask? Not quite. I labeled them “school crushes,” the people who inspired my ass to get out of bed and go to class. Not that going to class was all that hard to do, but a packed schedule of electives and surveys often left much to be desired. So what did I do when Beowulf just wasn’t completing me in that Jerry Maguire kind of way? I dreamed, I longed, I pined. I fantasized about a study group turned orgy, or a make-out session amid the musty stacks of the campus library. All in all, I crushed.
Desire drives the human spirit. Couple that with the greatest human desire, Connectivity, and you’ve got a Crush. Upon entering adulthood, many of us leave our crushes behind, tucking them away in the annals of our youth, like a box full of stuffed animals or notes once passed in the hallway. However, I still sleep with my stuffed animals; I still read notes from my first boyfriend; and I still crush. Call me juvenile, but there are just some things that I don’t want to evolve beyond. As I get older, these things comfort me, provide me with imagination and nostalgia, and keep me desiring.
When we’re young, we change friends, partners, and interests like we change underwear. There is no need to keep things “fresh” because every day is filled with newness and possibility. One of the best, and yet most dangerous, parts of being an adolescent is the sense of invincibility – the belief that we are endless and that what we have will never be the last of whatever it is.
As we get older, though, life becomes more and more static and unchanging. Our beliefs are rooted; houses, children, jobs, and spouses tether us to certain areas; friendships are old and established. It’s not boring, per se; it just is with not much sense of what will (or could) be.
When we make the decision to settle down with one person for the rest of our lives (or, until we just can’t take it anymore), we should enter with caution: one solitary human being cannot possibly fulfill every need or desire that we have. To expect such is an illusion that will eventually end in the demise of the relationship. What to do then when expectations aren’t met, interests diverge, and frozen dinners become routine? Some may go out and have an affair, skydive, or kill themselves. I’ve already been skydiving, suicide is against my religion, and having an affair is too much work for someone who has a hard time keeping secrets. So, I develop an imagination instead. And, in my imagination, I crush.
Now, don’t go hiding your husbands (or wives for that matter – I don’t discriminate). Trust me, maintaining one relationship takes all the energy I can muster. In fact, one of the main qualifications for becoming my crush is that I can’t believe we would ever make a good couple. If I thought that we belonged together in some more solidified, legislated way, then the crush would become too dangerous, too real and would cease to be a crush as I’ve defined it for myself.
See, a crush is all in the mind – or, at least, that’s where it should be. As long as you keep it there and don’t express it in any physical way, then no harm no foul; no appearances on Divorce Court, and no need to change your relationship status to “it’s complicated.”
So, what’s a crush then? For me, a crush is an intellectual affair with an unknowing partner. The beauty of the crush is that they literally have no idea what they do for you. In turn, your crush can’t let you down because they don’t even know that you expect anything from them. And, in fact, you don’t really expect anything from them. That’s the best part. The crush is totally mental; you haven’t secured your bond with an exchange of bodily fluids or even a verbal confirmation and, therefore, there are no strings attached. Your crush may actually be crushing on you too, but if everyone’s playing their cards right, no one should be the wiser.
The crush is symbolic. To me, it represents the human desire for newness and connection. When we only look to one person for that newness or that connection, we’re limiting our view, and we’re bound to be disappointed. We should be interested in other people because, as human beings with spirits and personalities and ideas, we should be interested in general. And, when we find people with whom we connect on political, social, philosophical, or creative levels, we should not deny that tingly feeling that we sometimes get when they’re around (like climbing up the rope in gym class, as a wiser man once said) because it’s our body’s way of telling us that this person makes us feel like we make sense, like we belong.
Our Puritanical roots have informed far too much of our culture already: we think we have to work 80 hours a week to mean something; we are against marriage equality for all because, apparently, only some people deserve to have their relationships sanctioned by God or the state; we’re made to feel shame for giving in to sexual instincts (even though everything else in the society is telling us to get down and dirty). I, for one, won’t let these rules restrict my mind. My mind is not always right, but when it feels, it feels; and there’s no stopping it.
Life cannot be boiled down to dualities. A wandering mind doesn’t always lead to being a wandering person. It is possible to maintain the values that you have created for yourself without denying the mind and body’s natural desire to be wanted and accepted by others, and, subsequently, to want and accept others as well.
Before he was my spouse, my husband was my “work crush” (which, by the way, takes the place of the “school crush” in your adult years). Luckily, we were both unattached at the time and could move the crush out of its rightful place in the mind into reality. And, every day that I’m with him, I thank the heavens for Crushes – because I don’t know where I’d be without them.