One of the melodramatic questions I belabored in the weeks following college graduation was how and where I would find a new crush. Throughout high school and college, I always had a crush. My crushes were like drugs, and seeing them sporadically during the day gave me an adrenaline rush that would last until the next sighting.
I was really good at having crushes. I was usually too shy to talk to the guys on whom I crushed, and if I did approach one of those guys, I’d break into mini hives and my hands would sweat. I’d walk away from the interaction not knowing what I said, but obsessing over it anyway.
I crushed best from afar. In high school, I knew where my crush lived and where he parked his car at school. I drove past his house on my way home from anywhere and I parked my car behind his on the same street before first period. In college, I knew one crush’s class schedule and his extracurricular activities. I passed another on his way to most classes and I ate lunch at the same time he did. I once stood uncomfortably close to another crush at the salad bar to see if he was taller than me. (He was—by an inch.) Isn’t this the type of behavior Taylor Swift sings about?
I’m no Helga Pataki, though, and I didn’t have a shrine to my crushes (except that one time…). I acted on some of them, but it never ended well. One particular instance resulted in a really fun Saturday night, leading me to trance through the following week. I couldn’t concentrate for more than twenty minutes without fantasizing about me and my crush doing ordinary, coupley things, like grocery shopping (that’s what couples do, right?). The crush turned into a hookup, and the hookup turned into…nothing.
Crushing from afar was the safe, fun alternative to disappointing hookups. Running into a cute guy to whom I’m not emotionally attached is thrilling; running into a guy who I hooked up with and who didn’t text me back is self-esteem-deflating. The first scenario is good for morale; the second isn’t.
So when I joined the masses of people commuting to and from midtown Manhattan this summer, I worried how I would get through each day without having a crush to brighten things up. I knew I could never have a coffee-shop crush. It would require me to talk to him every time I saw him, and I didn’t think my outfits could handle the profuse sweating that such verbal communication would induce.
I was thinking about my lack of crush on the crosstown bus a couple of months ago when a socially awkward guy with wire-rimmed glasses sat down in the seat across from me. His mannerisms reminded me of somebody I had gone to school with, and there was something familiar about him that caught my eye.
“Oh my god,” I sent over text to all my friends. “You guys, I have a commuter crush.” Things were looking up.
This new crush adds a little something to my day. When I found out that he takes the subway as well as the bus, I was so excited that I rode the C train an extra stop to see where he got off. (Creepy? Yes, a little bit.) When I arrived at work twenty minutes late, I was bursting with excitement—I knew more about the cute stranger, and the possibilities of seeing him on my morning commute had doubled.
My commuter crush isn’t the perfect alternative to the high school and college crushes with whom I was so enamored, but he’s good enough. He’s cute and nerdy, and he carries his newspaper in the netted sides of the backpack that he wears to work. I can’t plan when I’ll see him or try to find out his schedule because, after all, he’s only a stranger. And that’s okay. When crushes turn into lov-ahs, things get serious and stressful. Crushing is simple—it represents the hope of the like/love/lust that has yet to come.
Thanks, TheCoolQuest, for the image!
Elaheh is an aspiring Nora Ephron living in New York City, where she's figuring out what it means to be a 20-something millennial. She has a serious addiction to clothes, which doesn't bode well for her savings but makes great material for her blog, The Channeling Board. You can follow her on Twitter @ellie2635.
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