An Open Letter to All the Men in My Past:

First Crush, when you handed me that evaluation on my Remembrance Day art project, you wrote “Miya, never quit art; I can tell you have talent.” And I didn’t quit art for ages actually, because of you. Not only that, but I kept that evaluation stored safely in my journal at the time in a little zip locked baggie. For all I know, it still sits there among the other detritus of my teenage years. I kept that because it was all I had of yours; you were in your twenties and totally gorgeous; meanwhile, I was fourteen and ugly, large and hopelessly awkward; so much so that I could barely look at you. I remember when I learned that other girls also liked you I felt less pathetic but by the same token, jealous; those other girls were prettier and more mature than I was and they would have had a better chance with you. So, I hid in the corner and said nothing because I knew my place.

Morgan, I think the reason I liked you is for a few reasons: firstly because my friend did too, and therefore I jumped on this bandwagon; secondly, because you were the ‘hot’ popular athlete that everyone loved to be around. Additionally, you were the best of a bad lot. It was no wonder so many girls liked you; we were all aroused teenagers coming into our own and there you were – this walking wet dream compared to everyone else in school. I had never talked to you, really, save for three times: the first being on the elementary school playground when my friend and I had given you that fruit roll-up that had been dropped on the ground and stepped on unbeknownst to you, and then we laughed at you when you ate it. The second being in grade 10 English when I dropped my pencil and you picked it up for me and I thanked you. The third was during what was the ballsiest moment of my high school career; when I asked you to dance to Shake Ya Ass by Mystikal at one of our high school dances, and you agreed to do so. Then the song ended abruptly and you bailed. Despite that I spoke to you all of these three times, I was obsessed. I even had a photo of you in a frame that I kept on my desk that someone had acquired from a pile of yearbook castoffs. But, I didn’t stand a chance with you. In fact, I believe if you knew about all this, you’d have been really, really mean about it if only because that’s the kind of person you were; the kind of person who didn’t have time to bother with girls who were fat and un-popular like me.

Colin, I’m pretty sure you were gay but in my first year of university I was really attracted to effeminate guys and not the typical jock-ish meatheads that did keg stands at Lister Hall floor parties. I was also pursuing acting at the time and what I found in you was someone extremely talented and I found that really appealing as well. You helped me get my first university A+ on a midterm project and that still stands out in my mind as a great accomplishment. Also, it was from your mouth that I first heard of Wilco. Once again, my shyness got the best of me and I was unable to ‘do’ anything, not that there was anything at all to be ‘done’; but we did one exercise where I had to give you a back massage and while my palms were pressed against your back, I felt my first taste of real romantic bliss, if only for a moment. I did in fact see you a couple of times after our stint in Drama 149 was over but our conversations were surfaced and minimal and didn’t leave a lot of room to explore any feeling. Nevertheless, I don’t harbour any hard feelings. At the time I knew you, I simply wasn’t “ready”.

By the time you were in my life Ryan, my life was spiraling downwards and almost out of control; rather than be overly upset about my grandfather’s death, my depression and dissatisfaction with living in residence, my dad’s cancer and my friends abandoning me, I focused on what I could focus on; I ended up losing weight actually because I was forgetting to eat. I ensured that I was always out of my room at the crack of dawn and I didn’t return back until long after dark. I read novels and studied hard and wrote a lot of stories and I did well in school; better than I ever thought I could do. I learned I was a student, I even felt pretty once in a while dropping from a size 16 to a size 12 in just a few short months, and I was finally looking ahead to something bigger than residence life. And I fell in love with you. Head over heels in love. All-encompassing, consuming love. Every song I listened to, every sentence I read, every journal entry I wrote, was all about you. I remember that time you dropped your slush in our Film Class and I felt a bit embarrassed for you but at the same time, I was totally endeared. I remember the day you bought me that bottle of cranberry juice because I lent you notes that one time. In my head, all of these little acts were a long and beautiful romantic equation. In reality, you walked out of our final exam without even saying goodbye.

Chris, I think my favourite memory of you was that time we were all stumbling home drunk from the bar at the end of term and just before entering your building, you crouched down on the sidewalk and threw up at a constant into a snow bank while we all watched from the sidelines. I asked you if you were okay and you said yes, in between hurling your guts out with great, audible, guttural sounds that could be heard throughout our quiet neighbourhood. Never have I seen you so shamed and certainly never had I seen you so vulnerable. Vulnerability is and was not your strong suit, and this is how I’ll always choose to remember you. In fact, I smile when I think about that night.

I’m not going to lie, John; when I met you, I was desperate to get over something and live out some sort of exciting fantasy. You were tall and you liked Wilco and Ryan Adams and you worked for a company that Chris would have killed to work for but wasn’t talented enough to – and so at the time, that was good enough for me. I didn’t know though, that you were a crazy cat man so that was a bit of a shock. And then you insulted Matt Damon – my Matt Damon – in front of me. I don’t know what ever happened to you after that, but you gave me the worst date of my whole life. So, thank you! Because now I can regale people with the story and it makes me seem funnier and wittier than I actually am.

Of all the men I’ve ever kissed up until recently, I believe you Jon, were the best kisser. Which is surprising really, given the type of person you are; a comedic actor/clown school instructor/substitute teacher who wore a shirt with a manatee on it on our first date. You’re a perfectly nice guy but really, the only reason I wanted to see you again is so we could make out. When we didn’t make out the last time we ever spent time together, I was kind of over the whole summer fling thing. At that point in my life I already assumed love was dead and therefore, this was too and I moved on without hard feelings might I add – I was willing to forgive you because you were a prize maker-outer and I’m only a tad envious of whoever is kissing you these days for that reason only.

Sigh. Oh, Dale. You clever little boy, you. Telling me, “you’re the most beautiful girl in the bar” and trying to both flatter and seduce me with hilariously awful text-spoken text messages like “im wurth waiting 4” and “Id rather b with u”, and taking me out on a decently gentlemanly date while telling me about how you rear-ended a Mercedes and are now trying to sell off your truck parts to make money to pay the insurance company… it was all too cute. Unfortunately, I’m just too mature for you and your feeble attempts at booty-calling me. I will say though, that you showed me a much better time than a lot of the boys that I was legitimately interested in. Good job, kiddo. Here’s a gold star.

And to the rest, I hope you enjoyed our time together on all the dance floors of Edmonton; I’m sure you all thought for sure that you were going to take me home but in reality, you were mistaking me for someone that was dumb enough to fall for the old lifting-the-skirt-up trick. Firefighter, you smelled like sour milk and I firmly believe that although the whole costume fetish thing piqued my interest a bit, I’m probably a better catch than you; I mean, you’re a little old for The Rack, aren’t you? And Taylor – I’m amazed I even remember your name but I was always amazed that someone could legitimately ask, on a dance floor, “Do you want to go have sex?” It was brave – the kind of bravery that lands you in a section of The Darwin Awards books. And of course, then there was David – you were the best random bar make out of them all.  I would have loved to see you again but judging by the fact that I followed you up in the same night with Connor, who was actually pretty uppity and rude to me in the end, I must not have cared all that much. I guess it just wasn’t mean to be.

What all of you have taught me though, was that I have undergone a very linear progression in my romantic and sexual maturation. I had started my life as a girl who could barely even tie her shoelaces let alone so much as look a man in the eye, to a girl who believed that in her own life, love is dead for me and physical chemistry is really all that’s left for the jaded spinster who embodied my soul. And now, I’m looking back at all of you and realizing, what seemed like a huge deal at the time really wasn’t a big deal – it was just growing up, and having to learn lessons about people the hard way. So thanks, guys. I hope you’re all enjoying your lives doing whatever it is you’re doing; I likely won’t see any of you ever again, nor do I care to but I wish you well.

Regards,

M

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