I remember when I stopped liking Mike Salamida (real name for once). It was my senior year of high school and we worked together at a local supermarket. All of the other cashiers and baggers at the front end would see us flirt 8 hour shift after 8 hour shift. We'd play that teenage game of teasing and bickering, pretending we couldn't stand each other. Everyone was sure that he liked me, so sure in fact, that I became sure of it as well. That was until Erin started working with us. She was everything I wasn't, cute, blonde, and curvy. She was stylish in her flare legged corduroy pants, white polo shirt, and red apron. It's weird, because the second she showed up at the register next to mine and asked a customer if he wanted paper or plastic, I knew that Mike would want her. I knew that that she was the kind of girl boys always liked instead of me. Me with my crazy hair and braces. Me with my flat chest and shapeless clothing. Me with the killer sense of humor and sharp wit that never quite compensated for what I lacked in looks. I knew Mike would like her and it was confirmed at a Friday night keg party. I drank myself silly that night so I wouldn't have to deal with it. It hurt and no one wants to spend a Friday night in pain. I woke up the next morning with a hangover, which in hindsight was a good thing. The first thing I was aware of upon waking was a distinct feeling of vertigo and a queasy stomach. It took a least 30 seconds for me to remember that Mike liked a girl and that girl wasn't me. I spent the rest of the weekend trying to forget. Every couple of hours or so I'd be successful and I truly wouldn't think about it. That is until I realized I wasn't thinking about it which caused me to think about it all over again. I went to school on Monday and I don't remember a single detail about what happened, so I won't bother to make it up. But I do remember coming home from school and heading upstairs to watch All My Children which I taped religiously. Edmund's wife Maria had just recently gone over a cliff after a plane crash (body never found, she came back five years later) and he was sitting in a corner, crumpled and raw, reliving all of the memories of their life together. The montage flashed across the screen set to that song "I Can't Cry Hard Enough." As I sat there watching it, I cried with Edmund. Not because Maria was gone but because in that moment I knew exactly how it felt to not be able to cry hard enough for the person you're crying over to hear it. And when I was done crying and the snot was still running from my nose and my chest was still heaving, I decided that I didn't want to cry anymore. Not only did I not want to cry, I didn't want to hurt and I didn't want to mourn the loss of what was never mine. So I made a decision. I was not going to like Mike for one more second. I was not going to feel the way I did 10 seconds ago for a moment longer. And with that steely resolved I took a finely sharpened knife and cut him out of my heart. In that moment I was over it.
I've never again been able to do that. I remember it and I keep it close, just so I know I can do it. If I've done it once, I can do it again. That's what I keep telling myself. I don't know why I couldn't do it with the Idiot, and I don't know why I can't do it with the Guy. I don't know why I can't just make the decision to not like him anymore and then actually not like him. Maybe it's because I ran across his picture last night, or maybe because his text messages are still in my phone. Maybe it's because I travelled through his town last week. I don't know. I'd like to know. I think if I knew why I was feeling this way right now I could stop feeling it. I could stop feeling as though something very vital is missing. I need for the Guy not to matter and I need him to not matter in this instant, just like how in 1997 Mike stopped mattering in an instant. I need that right now. I need it like I need air.