I’m in the middle of a massive break-up. It’s the worst sort of falling-out. We used to be so close, but now it’s as if the intensity of our relationship is what’s tearing us apart. I’ve been told, or at least popular songs and the media have told me, that no love can last forever, but I thought that my love of all things academic was forever and always until the ends of the earth.

The Joy of Learning and I met on the first day of second grade and were instantly inseparable. I recall settling down for reading time next to some of my new friends. Our rug had a map of the world on it, and I vividly remember sitting on Antarctica—whose little polar bear drawing and position on the outer edge made it the most coveted spot on the rug. Not a minute into reading our book, I farted. Loudly. You see, I was (maybe am) a champion farter. At the tender age of seven I had mastered the art of foghorn-level farts with none of the unpleasant odor. I figured that my classmates’ laughter was in appreciation of my awesome and unique talent. They laughed. THEY LOVED ME!

My happiness ended that night at the dinner table, when I told my parents all about how AWESOME my fart had been, and they informed me that farting in public was in no way socially acceptable. I slowly came to the realization that this had been these kids’ first impression of me—as a socially unacceptable public passer of gas—and that that one fart would become my identity for the next five years. I was Fart Girl. I was virtually friendless. Needing something to fill the gaping hole where BFF necklaces and guaranteed lunch table seats might have gone, I turned to reading and studying. I also turned to an obsession with horses and Celtic music, but I’d really like to forget about those chapters in my life.

School was everything for me. It was my identity. By sixth grade I had discovered the joys of math club, chess club, and book club. I befriended the librarian by essentially hiding in the library every spare moment I had. By freshman year, I was still always in the library. I remember one delinquent passing by me and saying to his delinquent friends, “Hey look, Study Girl here’s gonna get an A.” I think I responded with a hearty “THANK YOU. I WILL get an A.” You tell ’em, Study Girl.

Then, this year, my relationship with learning got rocky. I started to struggle in English class for a split second, which NEVER happens, and I lost my identity. We have a bigger workload this year, and my classes are harder, and I fell behind in reading one day. Then I fell behind in writing my papers. I started turning them in later and later. In fact, there is a half-written essay on Crime and Punishment sitting on my computer right now. It was due in September. Whatever the opposite of extremely motivated is, that is what I became. This past Friday, I arrived in Spanish class without having done my homework for possibly the millionth time. I scurried to fill out the assigned worksheets, literally making up verbs. When the teacher chewed me out, she was talking to the kid who never did her homework, and not the kid who just happened to forget one time. I’ve become one of those kids—the ones who do no work and don’t care. One of the kids I always hated.

It’s been this way for a few months now. I really would like for things to go back to the way they were, but it’s kind of like school’s just not returning my phone calls or providing me with any inspiration. But I’m still holding out hope. A romance that epic just can’t be dead. ♦