Sophia Zhao

As Rick pours his eyes gently into Ilsa’s gaze, both lovers probably already know. Ilsa’s eyes are glimmering with tears and the camera shifts away from their perspective, transporting viewers into the story. It is no longer Ilsa looking at Rick, but Rick and Ilsa looking at us. Then here comes the kicker, perhaps one of Humphrey Bogart’s most iconic lines: “Here’s looking at you, kid.” And with that, Bogart tells Ilsa to leave the country — and him. 

This is what true love looks like: pursuing them in times of war and danger, dancing dramatically in the rhythms of the rain and exchanging secret letters. A love so grand, a love so real. An affair for the brave-hearted, the honest, the mature. I memorized this love that adults had on the movie screen, through the language of touches, glances and whispers. I could only remark on how mysterious and powerful real love was. 

The little crushes we have on that cute classmate from English class seem insignificant compared to the love story “greats.” Call it insecurity, call it slight-embarrassment, I couldn’t help but feel scorn for the rather elementary, childish phenomena of crushes. Having moved past “high school-esque things,” it was time for bigger, more “adult-like” things. Forget the silly crushes. 

But my first semester at Yale was marked by a devastating realization, one that highlighted just how naive and immature I still was, despite my efforts to be anything but. After getting into college, I thought that my life was complete. 

Surprise! That’s not the case, at all. There exists a world beyond college and educational institutions: a very scary, nebulous world called “adulthood.” 

With the all-too-recent memories of all-nighters spent on college essays and Senior Fall “hustle” culture, I felt pressured to prepare for the“next stage of life”: full of summer internships, return offers and curated LinkedIn profiles. After having barely survived this tsunami, I was struggling to keep above another rising current. Busily moving from class to class, frantically filling up my Google calendar, I couldn’t help but think that a part of me was lost in time. As much as I hate to admit it, I was ready, eager even, to resign my title as a “newly-minted adult” and return to the “silly-goofiness” of high school. 

So what is the remedy to this fast-paced, harsh aging process of “Yale time?” Is there even a way to return to high school Jane? Or is she just an extinct creature, a skeletal figure hanging on display in the museum of my memory? 

But somewhere along these few weeks, I’ve found a potential remedy, one that might revitalize and hydrate my wrinkled, aged heart: the art of having a crush. 

Ever since a close friend of mine confided to me about her top-secret crush, I’ve gently let go of the world of essay deadlines, problem sets and summer planning. That “grown-up” world is waiting for me, no doubt. Soon, I’ll have to pay taxes and deal with annoying co-workers and figure out my meals in a post-dining-hall-life. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. 

Right now, I have other things to take care of. I have to help my friend stalk her crush’s tagged Instagram posts. I have to carefully co-curate a wistful-pining-hopeless romantic Spotify playlist. I have a Hockey game to attend, with binoculars and maybe some sunglasses (obviously). 

And another surprising declaration: I’ve developed a crush of my own! This person’s pretty cool, I have to admit. But more than the subject of my crush, I also love allowing myself to surreptitiously “scheme” and coordinate “alleged coincidental run-ins.” 

No, I am not teary-eyed, telling my lover to escape a war-torn Morocco. Yet, that’s the entire point. We don’t have to experience a mature love for it to be real and exciting. As much as we forget, we are but eighteen, nineteen and twenty-year-olds. In an already fast-paced Yale, we don’t have to push ourselves to grow up. There is still something magical and genuine about the whispered names, the not-so-secretive glances in class, the nervous, so-Yalie declarations of “Do… do you want to grab a meal together?” 

So let’s stay entranced and immersed in the great teenage mythologies of “like-like” and romance. Just for a little longer, while we can. 

Maybe this piece is more than just a love letter to crushes, maybe it’s a love letter to our silliness, our endearing immaturity and our hopelessly lovable youth.