It seems to me that the wanting of something can become an entity all its own - that even when we no longer desire a certain object, a hoped-for-outcome, a special person - that the yearning itself lives and breathes still.
As a schoolgirl of fourteen, I had a silly crush on a dark-haired boy in my music class. He seemed to be universally liked, he was handsome, he was friendly yet somehow maintained a slight reserve. I was angular, pale and had a tendency to blush. I had plenty of friends, but wasn't wildly popular. I was desperate to be noticed, hoping fervently to be adored.
The boy was nice enough to me, but never showed any interest beyond friendship. I don't blame him in the least - I was so insecure, so hopelessly romantic, so doey. I think back to how I gazed at the boy adoringly, and it induces waves of nausea.
After a couple of years of being politely dismissed, I stopped the gazing. I still thought the boy was a decent guy, I still thought he was cute, but I didn't pine for him any more. I developed some self-esteem, and I realised there were other boys who actually did think I was attractive. I dated a couple of guys. The boy was just another school pal. One day I saw him on campus at my university. He had grown a beard, and I teasingly told him he looked like a terrorist. There was nothing left of my past hankerings for the boy.
And yet....... at least once a year, I dream about this boy. I dream that I am young and fresh-faced and a single girl. I dream that we are talking. Sometimes I dream that the boy says he wants to be with me; mostly I dream he tells me he feels nothing for me. I am overjoyed, or wretched with sadness. I wake from the dreams and shake my head in disbelief. I haven't seen this boy, now a man, in years. I rarely think of him in my waking hours. I am married to a man who I respect, admire and love passionately. It seems ridiculous that my mind would return to this 'boy' who is of so little consequence in my life. I can only surmise that my dreams of the boy recur because he represents my first experience with longing. The boy means nothing, but the yearning he invoked goes on and on.
In just over a week, I'll be attending my school reunion. The 'boy' will most likely be attending. I am somewhat ambivalent about the possibility of his presence. After all, I spent the final two years of high school being underwhelmed by him. But I cannot deny a degree of curiosity. I wonder what he'll act like, look like, be like.
Mostly I wonder if seeing this relic from my past will flush away these dreams of inadequacy and rejection, and the rarer dreams of mutual puppy love. It's a waste of brain space to dwell on this rubbish - even if it is during sleep!
Maybe the dreams will disappear like so many strands of old spiderweb. But maybe they won't. Maybe my secret heart will keep on longing aimlessly - like the long-ago girl who wished for love but believed herself unworthy of it.