Eighth grade was the year I decided my self-assumed secret identity — Invisible Girl — sucked. It was also, coincidentally enough, the year I met Older Boy. He was a ninth grader, and I was fairly sure there was some sort of middle school social code indicating that he was out of my league. After all, he was a whole year older than me. But even if he was never going to know I was alive, since I was only an eighth grader, upgrading to Partially-Invisible Girl still seemed like it’d be a nice change of pace.
There’d been guys who’d caught my eye before. But even the ones who’d made me furious with myself for becoming one of “those girl” whom I’d vehemently sworn I’d never become — a boy’s-name-doodler, an oh-my-gosh-he-actually-knows-my-name teenager — had still never interested me enough to attempt to have a conversation.
So, I accepted my new and potentially horribly embarrassing mission: talk to Older Boy. Okay, so at that point I hadn’t even managed to spit out my name successfully, but I was aiming high.
I began keeping a detailed account of my attempts at first contact with my targeted member of the opposite sex in my journal (I refused to call it a “diary” because that seemed to imply I wrote about nothing but teenage angst and boy drama). The entries read something like this:
Older Boy sat next to me in youth group today. I’m sure that’s because it was the only chair available, but it was still nice. He tried to talk to me about what language I want to take next year in high school, but I got embarrassed and just ended up muttering something. Not even sure what I said. Gosh, I wish I wasn’t so invisible.
On the way home from winter camp Older Boy sat next to me. Everyone on the bus was singing to pass the time, except me because can’t sing that well. He tried to get me to sing and, when I wouldn’t, he looked into my eyes and sang directly to me until I finally sang along. It’s nice when he happens to sit next to me.
I wish I was one of the pretty girls that boys actually notice.
I wore mascara and green eyeliner for the first time today. Older boy made a big deal about it and said it looked nice on me. I can’t believe he noticed. How embarrassing! Maybe I don’t like wearing makeup after all.
Something exciting happened today! He invited me to his birthday party! I really, really wanted to go but I didn’t want Mom to know I like a boy. That’d be so embarrassing! And I couldn’t think of a good excuse since none of my friends who are girls are going.
Everyone teased Older Boy after he invited me to his birthday, said he really wanted me to come. I wish that was true.
Well, I’m back from the mission trip to Mexico. One of the girls on the trip told me that her cousin hates me because she likes Older Boy and thinks he likes me. How silly is that? Older Boy still doesn’t even know I’m alive and now some girl hates me because she thinks I’m competition. It’s so not fair. Sigh.
I dedicated an entire written work (cut Middle School Kelsey a little slack here, it was a small journal and the lines were spaced rather far apart) to my hopes of one day being Slightly-More-Visible Girl. I wrote about how lucky I felt that Older Boy just happened to end up sitting next me so frequently. He didn’t really know I was there, but it was still nice.
Sometimes I wondered if I was supposed to tell him that I liked him; that’s what the movies and songs on the Billboard top 100 seemed to say, right? You like someone, so you tell them. But that just seemed terrifyingly awkward and I wasn’t sure what the point would be, anyway. Like a house cat finally catching the elusive robin in the backyard, I wouldn’t have had the foggiest idea what to do if Older Boy had returned my I-don’t-know-you-at-all-but-you-seem-cool-and-funny-so-I-like-you affections.
As I hoped he’d notice I was alive, he sat next to me, tried talking to me, playful flirted, hinted that it’d be great if I came on various youth group events that he was going on, complimented my looks … and would probably fall out of his chair today if he found out that the girl he could never get to talk to him, the one who seemed so utterly uninterested, had actually been logging all of our encounters with a green gel pen all through eighth grade.