When I was fourteen, I was obsessed with three things:
And Adam Shaffer.
I had an incredibly intense imagination, it may have teetered away from active mind of a child and into slight insanity. Slight.
For example, I joined a surf forum online, and printed out beach lingo to pump into my daily conversations. This wouldn’t have been as weird if I had lived remotely close to water, I don’t think the drainage ditch in my front yard counted. And I still have never held a surf board.
I also was certain I would move to Sri Lanka, I think I saw it on the front of a newspaper once, and decided it would be the place where I would be a missionary. I printed out a map of the country and pinned it to my billboard. I subscribed to a Missionary magazine and kept my eyes out for potential job opportunities. Nothing would keep me from the people of Sri Lanka, nothing accept Chai Tea and Curry.
After an experience with Indian Cuisine my interest began to fade, eventually the map fell off my bill board and landed behind my desk,
—where it collected dust and lost significance.
My third obsession was Adam Shaffer, ever heard of him? Probably not, because I made him up. I was convinced God had given me the name. In my mind, Adam was the man I knew I would marry someday, he was a missionary, a surfer, and most importantly the main character in my love story.
I used to ask boys what their middle names were, always on the look out for an Adam. My cousin married an Adam, and i’ll have to admit I was slightly jealous.
Eventually I accepted that perhaps this character was not worth pining over, since he did not exist. I adjusted the obsession from a fully developed fictional person to more of an ambiguous ideal for my eventual husband.
The name Adam became a symbol for my future husband, I wrote letters which started “Dear Adam…” and then turned into diary entries about my daily struggles as a high school freshman.
I kept on writing letters a few years into college, I think the angle of my words shifted to reflect whomever I was crushing on in the moment.
It seemed a little less insane than waiting for Adam Shaffer.
I stopped writing the letters after a few legitimate rejections. The words I wrote to Adam had been my sanctuary, a hope of a someday in the future when I would be loved like I had read about in Christian teen novels.
Loved and wanted by a dreamy blonde surfer who wanted to be a missionary in Sri Lanka.
But the rejections hurt just enough to make me realize it might not be so easy to find Adam. The hurt made my wonder if just like Sri Lanka with it’s Chai Tea, and surfing with it’s shark infested salt water, there might be pain and things I didn’t like about my potential husband.
During my obsessive Sri Lanka/Surfing/Adam days, I remember my Dad saying,
“Chrissy (I changed the spelling to “Krisi” in eighth grade to reflect my surfer alter-ego), you are so beautiful, someday, the boys will be lining up around the block to date you.”
Well, I’m older and I just looked out the window, the only man I see is made of snow.
I believed my dad at thirteen, I believed him a little less at twenty. I was beautiful? If it was true, where were all the boys? Why didn’t I need stanchions in my front yard?
No boys lining up must have meant my dad lied. Adam wasn’t coming, and either was anyone else.
At thirteen I had my life figured out, my career, my hobbies and my family. By twenty I decided having a dream was worth as much as a print out of a foreign country, a list of surfers lingo and a few penned letters to my future husband.
Dreams were just scraps of paper which eventually collect dust and lose significance.
Maybe they are, or maybe the scraps are what form the foundation for who we become in life.
I don’t want to regain an obsession for surfing and fictional husbands, but i’m ready to insert a little hope back into my life.
Looking back, I think my dad was saying a lot more than “you are beautiful and boys will love you.” I think it was more like this:
“Krisi/Chrissy, you are so beautiful, I can see the light and creativity of an intelligent and strong woman in you, and others see it too.”
I don’t know if i’ll make it to Sri Lanka, and I have no interest in wearing a wet suit or swallowing salt water, I may not even meet an Adam in the near future, but I have a love for people, for creativity, for adventure, and a man made of snow waiting in the front yard.