Falling in love has never been as easy as making scrambled eggs for me. Not to say I didn’t have my fair share of crushes over my earliest years, but somehow I knew the difference between the two.
I remember my very first crush was a nine or 10 year old boy who happened to be a good childhood friend’s neighbor. He was a very cute and tall little boy and had a sweet smile. I remember seeing him a few times when I visited my friend, and he always seemed interested in what we two girls were doing. So one day I couldn’t hold back any longer and asked if I could kiss him. I remember him simply saying “OK”, so I proceeded to give him a peck on the cheek while my friend laughed. I never saw him again after that, but the memory lives on in my mind.
In middle school, there were a few young guys that took an interest in me, but I wasn’t that interested in them. In high school, a few guys asked me out and we went on dates (or to their houses), and they seemed to try to get a little too friendly for my taste. I kind of liked them, but definitely not enough to sleep with, as a teen. At the time, I was rather religious, and probably wouldn’t let much happen anyway, because of that. And yet, for some reason I got the feeling that the teen boys thought I was easy meat. Perhaps some false rumor got around? I don’t know.
Men being more interested in me than me in them was common place throughout my high school and early to mid-college days. Again, I dated them, but more for the dates than actual interest in the guys. I did have a couple of crushes during these periods, but it always seemed unfair that the guys I liked didn’t take an interest in me, or were already taken. The few guys I dated did get to perhaps second or third base with me, but never as far as a home run. Because I stopped before that point, I even got dumped a few times, but I didn’t shed any tears as a result.
During the summer of 1992, I taught conversational English in Poland. I wrote about that experience in my post Summer work abroad in Poland. There I made a good female friend named Krista, who was an American of Polish background. She was also a student at my university, and would also become a senior the next fall semester. She had a very outgoing vibrant personality and was just so fun to hang out with. I also liked hanging out with her in Poland because she spoke the language, since her mother was Polish. After we returned to the United States, but before the semester began, she invited me to join some friends of hers to go to the city (New York City). It ended up being two guys, plus Krista, a female friend, and me. I forget her female friend’s name, and one of the male’s names, but the other male had a unique name. It was Mihai, the Romanian form of the name Michael. He was a slightly exotic dark haired, dark eyed man with a beard and mustache, and long hair in a ponytail. Not really my usual type, but good-looking all the same. We all had a great time together and vowed we’d hang out a lot when we started college again. I was glad, because most of my college friends had been a year older than me and had already graduated in the spring.
So the fall semester began, and I got together with Krista at a college coffee house event. There she was telling me how much of a crush she had on Mihai, one of the guy’s I met in the late summer with her. She told a story of how they went on a couple of dates, and at the end of the last he kissed her. She described how he was a great kisser, and how amazingly intelligent and interesting he was. I felt good for her because she seemed to beam with happiness. She definitely had a strong crush on him.
Again Krista and the same crew of friends and I met for various events, but they slowed down a bit since she became pretty busy in her Biology lab. Despite, we did have a meeting set eventually, but she backed out at the last minute. Mihai said he’d still be “there” anyway. I went to the event and met up with him. I thought he was a cool guy, too, so was happy to see him.
After that first time alone with Mihai I have to say that I developed a bit of a crush on him myself, and it became clear that he seemed particularly interested in me, too. We liked each other’s stories, seemed to have a lot in common, and enjoyed humorous wordplay. As mentioned earlier, I had never had such a mutual attraction. My skin prickled with extreme excitement, and I think it even sparked a bit of bipolar hypomania (I have bipolar disorder) over time. Conditions were pretty ripe for hypomania to brew. I was taking 21 credits of classes that semester because I fell behind the previous year because of depression. Everything seemed flat out easy for me at this time, and I was having a blast and full of excitement.
As the hypomania increased, my behavior became a bit elated. Sometimes elated people with hypomania/mania become a bit extra attractive to the people around them, and them to the hypomanic person. Perhaps I was particularly creative sounding, vibrant physically, and extra alluring? I guess. With hypomania, I also become quite flirtatious. Definitely not an exaggeration! I have to be honest, as Krista clocked more and more time in the Biology lab, Mihai and I clocked time together. With my hypomania, I just didn’t care that he was her love interest. It’s a shame that impulsivity took over. Though Mihai never had bipolar disorder, he seemingly didn’t care about being “unfaithful” to Krista either.
Love was in the air for me for the first time at 20 years old. I found myself only thinking of Mihai and my classwork. I forgot to eat. I was running around everywhere. I lost a lot of weight. I think I started the year at maybe 135 lbs (61 kg) at 5’7” (a very good weight for me, being large boned and muscular from past ballet), and was soon in my 120s. Then I got some terrible bronchitis and ended up almost bedridden for a week. Mihai would come and bring me food and check up on me. By the time the bronchitis subsided, I was 118 lbs (53.5 kg). For me that was extremely thin. Looking back at photos of that time, I looked quite underweight. But Mihai seemed to find me particularly attractive that thin, and even told me so. I had very long wavy dark blond hair at the time, and many guys, including Mihai, said I reminded them of the Bohemian-type singer Edie Brickell, who was popular at the time.
After a number of dates, Mihai asked me out to dinner, alone. He came to my dorm (the Asian culture house), to pick me up. I remember opening up the front door after the doorbell rang and he stepped in. He stopped, staring straight into my blue eyes with his intense brown ones, and with a nervous giggle and smile he said breathlessly, “Cindy, I think I’m falling in love with you.” With that, an almost violent nervous energy shot down from my head to my toes. He reached for me, and we kissed for what seemed like a full minute. Yes, Krista was right that he was an outstanding kisser. But perhaps being my first kiss with a man I was in love with, who also loved me, it was even more powerful and dream-like.
Click My very first love Part 2 to continue this story