She was my obsession for 45 years. Day and night I dreamed that one day she would be mine. In my endless struggles to win her heart, I had to develop resources that forced me to stay connected to my romantic and vulnerable part. Today I can see that she opened up a part of me that later became my source as a writer. It would take me more than 40 years to understand the meaning of our connection and to appreciate how she had transformed me. When I reached this point, I finally managed to show her how much I cared before letting go. If ever I told her the real story of everything I went through because of her, she would surely have a hard time believing it.
I was seven years old when we met for the very first time. At my first day of school, I held my mother’s hand as we joined the other new pupils and their parents. The atmosphere was tense while we all gathered in the classroom to meet our teacher. My mother was in a great mood, and soon she engaged in conversation with the mother of one of the girls in my class. When the teacher arrived, the two women decided to place their children at the same table. Naturally, I told my mother that it was an embarrassment putting me beside a girl, but when I looked at the girl, I changed my mind. Sitting on the chair beside me was an adorable princess; petite, beautiful, blonde and with big, blue eyes. After looking at her for a few seconds, I was struck; at the age of seven, I was in love for the very first time.
Over the next weeks, we continued sitting in the same seats, but we rarely said anything to each other. After a month our teacher assigned us all new seats in the class. To my distress, I was seated in the back with a boy who had become my friend. My dream girl was sitting in the front of the classroom and, even though I pretended to be pleased with no longer having to sit beside a girl, I was torn apart on the inside. It took me a few weeks to deal with the disappointment, but, in the end, I accepted the situation. With the new physical distance between us, I had to develop new ways of getting her attention. Being bigger than my classmates, I never missed a chance to show off my strength, but only if she was around. I also became the entertainer and funny boy in the class. When saying something funny, I was discretely keeping an eye on her, and if she laughed, I was on top of the world — even if it meant that the teacher would kick me out of class. The days when she was not in school were terribly long. Usually, I became resigned to her absence and remained quiet while impatiently waiting for the day to be over.
Throughout the first years of school, she and I rarely had any kind of direct contact, but still, my fascination with her kept growing. In the mornings, the thought of her would motivate me to get up and arrive at school on time. After school, I would evaluate what had happened during the day. Naturally, the evaluation had nothing to do with reading, writing or arithmetic, but had to do with the interaction and connection between us. What had I done during the day that had made her smile, made her laugh, made her impressed or caught her attention? In the evenings, I would sometimes spend hours daydreaming of the relationship I hoped she and I would have in the future. Occasionally I made her drawings, picked flowers or wrote her letters that I never sent or dared to show to anyone. At night, before sleep, I could lie for a long time in my bed, imagining how it would feel if she gave me a hug or a kiss. Usually, these fantasies involved a situation where she was in some kind of peril. Someone would attack her or try to push her off a cliff, but heroically I materialized beside her, and in the nick of time, I would take her out of the danger. In gratitude, she smiled, took my hand and devoted herself to me. There were many variations of this fantasy, but, no matter how it progressed, it always allowed us to drop our facades and show each other real affection. At the end of my fantasies, we would usually lie beside each other on a blanket in the forest holding hands. The rays from the sun, the smell of her hair and the way we gazed into each other’s eyes felt like a tranquillizer. In these dreams, she always wore a white dress and white stockings, and sometimes she kissed me and urged me to touch her. My reveries were essentially romantic rather than sexual, and it scarcely mattered that they were not realistic. Every time I dreamed about this girl, I became wrapped in a kind of intoxicating euphoria. After being lost in my dream for about 20 minutes, I would usually fall asleep happy and fulfilled.
Throughout my life, I have never cared for school. Yet my dream girl made school bearable. Unlike me, she was well behaved in class, and if I wanted to earn her respect, I had to do well in school. Besides trying to be a good student, I had daily competitions with myself, pushing me to make a better impression on her than the day before. Knowing her taste, I wore certain clothes, got a specific haircut and often I listened to the music she liked. Still, my efforts rarely seemed to have any kind of effect on our relationship. When today, I look back at all my struggles regarding this girl, I can see that she shaped me more than anyone or anything else through my upbringing. Through my affection for her, I stayed connected to the sensitive and empathetic part. A part that would later become the wellspring of my writing. Still, my sensitive side was securely hidden from everyone in school — especially her. Officially I was the tough, funny and cynical boy who was never vulnerable. Rarely did I miss a chance to bully the others or to engage in creatively nasty tactics that made life difficult for anyone I didn’t like. Once, I left a carton of milk on a warm radiator for a week. When the milk was rotten, I held down a boy who had been in my way and forced him to drink it.
I have never been disciplined when someone else tells me what to do or how to act, but when I decide myself to do something, my patience is endless. Even though I didn’t progress with my dream girl, I continued my struggle until — in sixth grade — something finally happened. Every year she would invite the same select group of boys and girls to her birthday party. To my great distress I was never part of this group but a few days before her thirteenth birthday she suddenly approached me after school and put an envelope in my hand. Inside the envelope was an invitation to her birthday party. I don’t know how many times I read the invitation without being able to believe my eyes. This was the first time she had ever shown me any kind of special attention, and I was naturally nothing less than ecstatic. Finally, all the dreaming, fantasizing, struggling and worrying had yielded results. On the way home from school that day I could hardly contain myself but my happiness soon turned to concerns. What should I wear to her party, should I have a haircut, how should I behave and what kind of present should I bring? Today — so many years later — my preparations for the big day stand crystal clear in my memory. Yet I don’t remember much of what happened at the party itself, except for my awkwardness and feelings of constant discomfort when I was near her. At thirteen, I had grown considerably and was almost the size of a grown man. My dream girl was still petite and princess-like. Whenever I was around her, I felt like a clumsy, stupid giant who would never be worthy of her affection.
With the onset of puberty, I kept fantasizing about my dream girl, but the fantasies started becoming increasingly sexual. Occasionally I imagined that she and I met in the school library after closing time. Thinking she was alone, she would be standing by a bookshelf looking for something, when suddenly I turned up beside her. With one hand, I grabbed her arm while putting the other hand under her dress. At first, she tried to resist me, but soon she became so turned on by what I was doing that she was ready to fulfil all my wishes. In another of my fantasies, I kidnapped her and brought her to a secret cave. In the cave, she was my prisoner, and every day I would bring her food before having sex with her. Even though these dreams seemed abusive, I never fantasized about doing anything against her will. Her consent and affection were essential in my fantasies. Nothing could turn me on like the part where she gave up her resistance before happily submitting to my will.
Sixteen years old, I still had made no progress with my dream girl. Reluctantly I started taking an interest in other girls. To my great surprise, I was not only popular but also confident among the other girls, and within long, I had my first sexual experiences. Opening up to girls made all my accumulated romantic dreaming flourish. Even though I often fell in love, there was always a part of my heart that I saved for my childhood dream girl. As I reached the last days of school, I had been dating lots of girls at my school, but my dream girl and I had never so much as touched each other.
When I left school, my childhood dream girl stayed in my mind, representing all a girl could ever be. In my choice of partners and lovers, she was my muse leading me to spoiled and fragile princesses who would sometimes end up becoming very controlling while making my life a living hell. Some say that boys are attracted to girls resembling their mothers, but my dream girl was nothing like my mother. My dream girl was fragile and sarcastic, whereas my mother was compassionate and reliable. If I had problems and needed to talk, my mother would never hesitate to prioritize me. Every day she and I would spend time together during afternoon tea, or we would prepare dinner together. My two older siblings were boys, and when I was born, my mother had hoped that her third child would be a girl. To make up for the lack of girls in the family, my mother urged me to become a mommy’s boy. When my brothers were playing football, I was knitting, cooking, sewing or growing flowers and vegetables in our garden. Even though my mother and my dream girl were as different as night and day, they no doubt had one significant thing in common. In entirely opposite ways, they both could open me up and keep me connected to my sensitive part.
Despite my dream girl’s constructive influence on doing schoolwork, I never managed to learn much in school. When l Ieft school I failed most of my exams. With terrible results, I had no alternative but to settle for untrained jobs in factories or restaurants. With a group of similarly minded friends, I became a small-time criminal and on several occasions, I ended up in trouble with the police. My older brothers had great exam results and went to high school. Naturally, my parents were frustrated that I had become the black sheep of the family. I was in dire need of a radical change and a new network of friends, so when I was 19 I made the desperate decision to serve in the army for a year. Reluctantly I accepted being stationed out on a remote island far away from my criminal friends. The following year I signed up for a militant school that pushed me to do gymnastics six to eight hours a day. As a bit of an anarchist who hates authority, I had extreme conflicts in both the army and the gymnastics school. That I was not expelled was a bit of a miracle. When I came back to my old environment I was 21, had new friends, new habits and was in great shape. Time and the toughening process had matured me enough to start studying. Over the next few years, I finished high school and gained a Master’s degree in computer science. As a consequence, I got a well-paid job as an IT-consultant in a successful international company.
While I was studying, I didn’t have any contact with my dream girl, but occasionally I met others who knew her. One night, at a friend’s party, I was chatting with a guy who grew up in the same suburb as me. We hadn’t attended the same school, but the guy told me that he’d once had an affair with a hot girl from my school. When he told me her name I was in for a surprise. The guy sitting in front of me had been dating my dream girl! Amazed, I urged him to tell me more, and when he laughed and said that she had been ‘no more than a fuck-toy’ I had to restrain the clumsy giant within me from knocking him down. While listening to his crude and primitive description of their intimate encounter, I tried hard to fain indifference to it all. Unknowingly, this guy was violating something that in my world was sacred. After meeting him, it took me several weeks to get rid of the terrible images he had put in my mind.
When I was in my early thirties, my dream girl started to seem like a distant memory. At this point, I was working as an IT-consultant for the EU. One day when I was flying to a business meeting in Brussels, I was in for a huge surprise. After buckling up, three stewardesses started going through the safety procedure before takeoff. Something about one of the stewardesses seemed familiar, and when I took a closer look at her, my heart skipped a beat. To my great astonishment, my childhood dream girl was part of the flight crew! In heels and uniform, she looked even more unearthly and feminine than I remembered her. When a little later she recognized me, her face lit up in a stewardess smile, revealing her perfect white teeth. During the flight, she was busy working, but every time she passed me a gush of energy refreshed the fading memories of her. Last time she and I had met, I was a confused boy leaving school with no future. Now I was a successful consultant travelling business-class. It was hard to imagine a more perfect scenario for me to meet her again. In every possible way, I was on top of the world, and I was sure that now was the time I would finally win my princess. The next time she looked in my direction I decided to ask her out for dinner, but when I waved her over I suddenly felt very nervous. Somehow the clumsy giant inside of me had been activated, and to my horror, my self-esteem was now skydiving. When she approached me, I decided to stand up while talking to her. In the process, I tipped the tray table with my steaming hot coffee on and knocked my head on the overhead locker. While one of the other stewardesses came to help clean up the coffee, my dream girl went back to work in the other end of the plane for the rest of the flight.
When I left the plane, I felt terrible that I had not even managed to talk to her, but suddenly she appeared beside me putting a note in my hand. Outside the plane, and with sweaty palms, I looked at the note. To my great relief, it contained her phone number and a message telling me to call her sometime. When I left the airport that day, I was the happiest man on earth.
During the next days, I decided to show off by inviting her to a top restaurant for a romantic dinner. To impress her, I bought myself new clothes and spend hours reading reviews to find the perfect restaurant. The restaurant I chose was a little above my budget, but I didn’t care. Winning my dream girl was all that mattered. When everything was planned I grabbed my phone to give her a call, but when I dialed her number I became so nervous that I decided to postpone the call to the next day. It took me almost a week to gather enough courage, and when I finally managed to call her, she didn’t pick up. As I left a message in her voicemail, I mixed up the words and sounded like a jerk. The following days I was in total agony, continually looking at my phone hoping she would call me back. Three days later, I gave up and decided to go for a second attempt. With my heart racing in my chest, I called her number. If she were not going to pick up this time, it would be too humiliating to call again, and all would be lost. To my extreme relief she picked up and while trying hard to calm myself down, I told her that I was going to take her to the best restaurant in town. When I said the name of the restaurant, she laughed and told me that it was a cheap, crappy place. Before hanging up, she gave me instructions to meet her at another much better restaurant.
When we met for dinner a few days later, I was in for a rough time. All evening she hogged the conversation. Either she was correcting me or making fun of me. The few times I tried to take charge of the conversation, she silenced me with a single, cutting remark. In the end, I regressed to the clumsy giant: constantly saying the wrong thing at the worst possible time. With this girl, I had all too much at stake and didn’t stand a chance. As always, she remained too pretty, too smart and too perfect for me ever to be worthy of her love and affection. Before we left the restaurant, I managed to spill a glass of wine on the table before scattering a handful of coins all over the floor when tipping the waiter. Afterwards, I offered to drive her home. On the way to her place, she told me a story of one of her big admirers — a fifty-year-old billionaire who had invited her to a three-starred Michelin restaurant in New York the following week. When we said goodbye, I gave her an awkward hug before driving home and spending the next days nursing my disappointment and emotional hangover.
After a dinner like that, any rational and sane person would give up and move on, but at this point, she had been in my dreams for almost 25 years. Against all logic, I still thought I could win her. In the following years, I often considered if there was a way that I could turn the situation around, but for that to happen, I would have to face her again. I naturally didn’t dare invite her out for dinner. To succeed, I needed an excuse to meet her in a more casual setting. When I heard that our former schoolteacher was about to turn sixty, I decided to use his birthday as an excuse to meet her once more. As a first step in my plan, I called up my teacher and asked if he wanted to see all his old pupils again on the big day. When he said yes, I engaged in the arduous task of finding my classmates from more than 20 years ago. Many had changed their names and scattered to remote parts of the country, but through hard work, I found most of them. When all the old pupils were finally gathered, everyone appreciated my efforts — except my dream girl who ignored me all evening and had to leave early.
During the next many years, I went in and out of several relationships. The women in my life all had something in common with my childhood dream girl. All had a fragile and vulnerable princess side that made it necessary for me to support them emotionally and financially. As a hopeless romantic, I worshipped them in the beginning and was able to put up with their extreme mood-swings for some time. After a year or two, the drama became too much, and I would end up going through chaos while trying to withdraw. While creating lots of dramatic relationships with equally dramatic breakups, I managed to father four children with three different women. All the drama took me in and out of depression but also opened me up in a new way. With time I became more and more sensitive, and in searching for something that would make me fulfilled, I saw less and less meaning in my job. When I had passed thirty, I became a writer, and in the following years, I left the corporate world.
By the time I was approaching fifty, I lived a fairly conventional family life with the mother of two of my children. At this point, she and I had many problems, and a dramatic breakup was imminent. When one day I decided to leave her the conflict between us escalated, and as a consequence, she didn’t want me to see our children. While trying to clear my head, I rented a flat, isolating myself and spending lots of time dwelling on my pain.
One afternoon I was sitting in an armchair once more letting myself sink into dark thoughts. For almost two weeks I had not cleaned the flat. Dishes and empty pizza boxes were scattered everywhere, and my beard was growing. When I received a notification on my social media account, I had to push myself to pick up my phone. When looking at the screen, I had the feeling that a bucket of ice-cold water was being thrown directly into my face. Here I was in the midst of my personal hell and who was writing to me? The message was from none other than my childhood dream girl! In a few words, she asked me if I wanted to chat. While I continued staring at the screen, I was paralyzed. Last time she and I had met, I had been an ambitious consultant in a suit. Now I was a depressed artist amid a personal crisis. Seeing her name on my phone was a wakeup call, and suddenly I was looking at myself through her eyes. While doing so, I could see how pathetic I had become. Disoriented, I got out of my chair. For a few moments, I walked restlessly around the flat. I had no idea why she wanted to talk to me and what she wanted to talk about, but somehow it didn’t matter. The thought that an unworldly goddess was reaching out for me energized me in extreme ways. As a first step, I went to the bathroom.
After shaving and taking my first shower in a week, I got into clean clothes. I got rid of all the garbage in the living room and washed the dishes. Having eliminated the physical traces of my depression, I sat down and responded to the message on my phone. Almost immediately, she wrote back. My name had randomly shown up in her newsfeed. Now she wanted to know where I was and what I was doing. During the next few minutes, we exchanged messages, and while doing so, I literally felt waves of cleansing energy flowing through my system. Knowing that she wanted my presence not only washed away my pain but also put a soft pillow under my tormented heart. Exchanging nothing but small-talk and chitchat I was gradually taken back into the safe and happy space of my childhood. A space that allowed the little boy to lie on a blanket gazing into the eyes of his perfect princess. All that existed was the present, and as far as I remembered the present had not felt better than this for many years.
Before we said goodbye, she asked if I wanted to meet her at a café in town the following week. After agreeing on a time and place, I sat quietly in my chair, not being able to recognize the way I felt. Ten minutes chat with the woman of my dreams, and the disillusioned and frustrated husband inside of me had vanished. For almost half an hour, I stayed motionless in my chair, expecting the depression to come jumping back at me, but it didn’t happen. For weeks I had been in pain and unable to do much more than sleep and eat. Now the conflicts I had with my wife seemed like absurd misunderstandings. All I now felt was the excitement that I was finally leaving my old life and getting ready for new experiences and new adventures.
When I felt sure that my pain wasn’t returning I got up. My body was trembling and so full of energy that I needed to do something drastic. As a first step, I went outside and ran for half an hour through the city, hardly feeling any strain in my muscles. When I arrived back at the flat, I called my wife. This became our first constructive conversation in a long time. Naturally, she was cautious upon hearing my voice, but my optimism was highly infectious. Before hanging up, she told me that I was welcome to pick up the children from school a couple of days later. During the days that followed, I remained energetic and enthusiastic. Without much effort, I took care of the mail and letters that had piled up. Next, I made some clear agreements with my wife regarding the way we needed to handle the divorce. My sudden change of behaviour made her relax, and within a few days, we were both ready to let go. After not having been able to write for a long time, my creativity was once more flourishing. Whenever I sat down to work, I only needed to visualize my childhood dream girl, and as a result, I was showered with new ideas and inspiration.
Around a week later, I dropped my children off at school before continuing to meet my dream girl at a nearby café. As I entered the café, she was the first person I saw. From a table in the corner, she was smiling at me. At fifty, she still looked stunning, but as I sat down in front of her, I noticed a different energy between us. Something had happened through all these years. For the first time in my life, I was able to look into her eyes without needing her to like me. Inside her, I still sensed the fragile little princess, but as I smiled at her a mature and much more relaxed woman emerged. This was the meeting I didn’t know was possible — the meeting I had been longing for since I was seven years old. Finally, I could relate to her as a real person, and when she started speaking there was no sarcasm in her voice. Attentively I listened while being both touched and fascinated by the change. In a matter of minutes, she told me more about herself than she had done during the last 45 years. When telling me that she regretted never having children tears grew in her eyes. Smiling reassuringly, I reached for her hand and looking a little insecure, she put her little hand inside mine. What was happening was beyond my understanding, but was, at the same time, perfect and real. Finally, I was allowed to see that this special woman was not only a goddess but also an earthly human being.
While our conversation continued, I was finally able to take a real interest in her life — care for her, encourage her and comfort her. For a couple of hours, we discussed lots of areas I had never imagined she would be able to talk about. Before I had to go back home, we went for a short walk through town. As we walked, I had an arm around her. On the inside, I was in complete peace while being absorbed by the joy of listening to her voice. Before we said goodbye, we gave each other a long and loving hug.
As I drove back to my apartment, I received a message from her asking if I wanted to meet again. Naturally, I would be happy to meet her anytime, but at the same time, I knew that I would not need to see her again. Finally, her powers over me had dissolved, and after 45 years of emotional bondage, I had become a free man. The dream of the perfect woman was over. As I continued driving, I was not only saying goodbye to my fragile princess, but to all the fragile princesses that had been dictating a big part of my adult life. Forever I will be grateful for the little, reserved, blonde girl with the big, blue eyes. Had it not been for her, I would surely have lost connection to my sensitive part. Despite all my efforts, my childhood dream girl never became my partner in love, but she was always there for me as my partner in growth.