Girls like me aren’t hard to find
We grow like roses on the vine
We wear our hearts on our sleeves
You probably know a girl like me.
We live alone and in our heads
We eat standing up or in our beds
Guilt and fear merge easily
In the quiet souls of girls like me
And loneliness is like a cold,
Common and no cure we’re told
We take to bed per chance to dream
In the blue light of the TV screen.
Girls like me like summer light
And cold beer on a summer night
And boys who aren’t afraid of what they see
Inside the eyes of girls like me
And hopefulness is like a drug
It makes a girl believe in love
And if somehow you love us back
You think there’s something wrong with that
Girls like me aren’t hard to trust
Your deepest secret’s safe with us
And when it’s time to set you free
You can always count on girls like me
It’s good to know a girl like me
You used to love a girl like me
— “Girls Like Me,” Mary Chapin Carpenter
I always find myself identifying with her songs, and this one is no different. The lines that always get me are “and when it’s time to set you free, you can always count on girls like me.” I was always a girl who never competed for guys. I pined away in solitude, watching for signs that showed the guy I was crushing on felt the same.
If those feelings were unrequited, I never caused a scene. I faded into the background like light fog settling in for the night — something you notice, but doesn’t cause any problems.
In the ninth grade, I went with the youth group at my church to this youth rally event at a local university that at the time was affiliated with the Southern Baptist association of churches. Youth groups from three or four nearby counties attended, and three of my friends and I found ourselves hanging out with two cute fellas from a church from a neighboring county.
One of the guys was very flirty. When we were filing into an assembly hall, he stood behind me and rubbed my shoulders and then rested his arms there. Butterflies fluttered in my belly, and I was excited by the attention I was getting.
Of course, I wasn’t the only one getting attention. The guys flirted with all of us, and by the end of the day, it became apparent that neither of the guys was interested in me. So I didn’t press the issue, and I became happy for two of my friends who got dates with these guys.
Was I bummed? Sure, but that became my role. I was a sidekick. I served as the friend and the buddy. I was the one who listened as the guy confided in me, secretly hoping that one day he’d come to his senses and see through the fog to me.
There’s no need for a pity party, though. Being on the sidelines like that created this ability to observe. I took mental notes of mannerisms and dialogue, and I could often see attachments forming between two people before they even became a couple. On the other side, I also saw when relationships were going awry.
However, that doesn’t mean that I’m perfectly okay with my role. It might have created this power that fuels my writing, but you know, having a prom date would have been nice too.