The day I know I'm truly comfortable with a man isn't when I can pee at his house without running the faucet or let him see me without makeup. I know that a relationship is going somewhere when I break out this old photo and he doesn't go running for the hills.

Now, this shot is particularly bad. I had just gotten out of the shower, so my hair looks like a grease pit. I am also wearing a glow-in-the dark shirt of a nighttime forest scene, which had snaps where you could attach and remove plastic bugs. ("Glow-in-the-dark snap on bugs shirt" yields no fruitful Google results. Disappointing.) I had also just been told to "look at the red dot" on the camera. Unfortunately, there were two of them. The photographer managed to capture me in the midst of asking "which dot?" while clearly looking at the wrong one.

But, despite the circumstances, this photo is still pretty accurate. Almost everyone touts an "awkward phase" in middle school, but one look at my yearbook shots usually shuts them up. Between ages six and nine I morphed from a fit, nature-exploring kid into a doughy book worm who sat inside and only read about the outdoors.

Actually, I read just about everything. Some of my favorite topics included dragon training, the Holocaust, Animorphs (these were humans who could change into animals, and I actually used to pray to God at night that I could become one [I also prayed for showers of rare Beanie Babies from Heaven]) and Stephen King novels (I distinctly remember tearing out his pages that had "raunchy" passages and writing an innocent synopsis of what was missing on the next page, for fear of my parents).

I brought books out to dinner and read them under the table, to family functions (where I once went so far as to hide in a closet to read), to friend's birthday parties and more. Year after year, parent-teacher conferences echoed with the same line: "Andrea is a great student. She just reads too much in class."

I was a big nerd, it showed and I loved it. I even chose bigger glasses frames to appear more intelligent and bookish. Looking back, my appearance caused some social trouble (OK, a lot of it), but I have to give adolescent me mad props for wanting to learn and not being ashamed of it.

Were you Lovelies cute kids? Or did you have some terribly awkward stages?

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