Prefrosh Passages: Cutting the Ties That Bind

Summer Lovin’, everybody.

Well folks, it’s that time of the year again! Time for incoming freshmen to leap out of the nest and snip away ties for the time being in order to make new ties to the world at large.

Okay, so there are family ties. Snip, snip. You can cut those pretty easily — or at least try to. They’ll always come back as quickly as you sever them. Family is forever.

Best friend ties — those are trickier. If you happen to have the great luck of going to the same college as your best friend, well, great! Otherwise, you might find yourself at a parting of ways for now. Eyes closed, face scrunched into an apologetic wince, you cut those as well. Snip.

As for your other friends, frenemies, and downright enemies, those are easier (sometimes much too easy) to cut away. Bye-bye high school drama queens! SNIPSNIPSNIPSNIP. (It’s all very Fates-esque, I know).

But then, you may still have one important tie left: the high-school-relationship-slash-summer-love tie. Countless teens across the nation have to face the ticking time bomb of what to do next with their current relationship. Sure, you’ve put it off for a couple of months now, but it’s August, kiddos, and this problem ain’t goin’ nowhere fast.

Now, in terms of existing long-term relationships, I can’t say much on the subject. I had pretty much been sh!t out of luck (pardonnez mon français) when it came to the dating scene in high school. I can’t imagine how hard the decision would be. It’s hard enough trying to decide if you’ll keep giving a summer fling a chance when it becomes not-so-summer anymore, something which I can actually speak a little on. (Surprisingly.)

It all began on prom. We didn’t go together. (Future children of mine: when at all possible, don’t start things with someone who’s not your date to prom. Things get real messy real quick.) We’d gone on a few semi-dates beforehand, but nothing too serious. Embarrassingly, I didn’t even really realize they were dates; I didn’t realize how much I liked this guy (let’s call him C) until the day of prom, but *apparently* he had been “laying the groundwork” for a while — his words, not mine. Looking back, the subtlety is actually very sexy.

As cliché as it sounds, prom was our catalyst. We completely jumped into a relationship after that, more or less fast-forwarding through the little awkward phases that threaten to doom any new relationship (e.g. friends making huge deals about you two being together, friends making crude and uncomfortable sexual jokes about you two, etc. I swear, there must be some universal law that when two people come together, the world is given a period where it’s socially acceptable to be completely unacceptable).

Inside every girl, there’s a secret desire for that fairytale. I forever thought I would have to man up, be realistic, and settle for far less than that. But this summer, I got my fairytale. C once asked me what I imagined my perfect guy to be like. As I quickly ran through a mental checklist, I was genuinely surprised at how many traits he and this “ideal Adonis” had in common. It seems like I had bagged the quintessential All-American boy with a sexy dash of gentlemanliness. It was a cruel joke then that I had waited nearly eighteen years for this guy only to meet him the summer before college. He’s going to the University of California, San Diego this fall — we couldn’t get much farther from each other if we tried. Long distance over an entire country is just too much, even for a newly hopeful romantic like me.

So… what now?

Eventually, we were forced to have “the discussion.” C was very blatantly against long distance, which was shockingly disheartening, even though I knew he was just being realistic. Working long distance relationships are the rare exception, not the rule, as Hollywood would have us believe. Every girl wants that big movie finish, to be the one that he goes all in for. But this isn’t a movie. It’s life. And I know that he’s right. I know that life will continue. But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it right now.

Call me a cynic, but I’ve never believed in love. I don’t believe that there is one person out there in the world for you, that you’re “meant to be” with. If it turns out that I’m completely wrong, there is probably some poor, wonderful young man on the other side of the world who’s destined to be single and unhappy for the rest of his life, as will I. (Might as well start collecting my cats now…)

But I do believe that in life, you’ll meet certain people that you work very well with. They’ll push you and make you want to be more productive, more upstanding, and just a better person altogether. Whether it’s in a romantic or a platonic way, you’ll learn to care about these people more than you could ever imagine. Although things didn’t really work out between C and me, he will sincerely be someone that I forever care about. No matter where life takes us, I will never forget this summer.

And hey, who knows, maybe I’m meant to be with some fellow Harvardian and have beautiful double-legacy babies. Come on, universe, bring it!

Whitney Gao ’16 should know that she’s too young to have resigned herself to cats. She should hold out until sophomore year, at least…

  • Rorizle

    Simply beautiful.

  • S

    Resonates with everyone – I am a fan :)

  • Coop

    Very nice, Whitney. I hope you will leave room in your young heart for a
    teacher or two

  • Ayushi Saraswat

    Very well written Whitney! So glad to have know you as a person. Stay in touch!

  • M

    this article may have attracted many guys already! haha