I was a late bloomer in a lot of ways. I looked like I was five until I was fifteen. I was like the “before” shot of every makeover you’ve ever seen for the better half of my school years. My teeth were jacked up, my bangs were always crooked and I had not discovered how to tame my frizzy Italian hair. Needless to say, I didn’t date anyone until my Senior year. Shocker.
My best friend set us up. I believe her exact words were: “There are two guys at my school that would be perfect for you.” They both had brown hair and blue eyes according to the very detailed description of important details that was provided for me. So I opted for the one who she thought was “more funny” obviously. Of course, she had accidentally started dating the other one before I had a chance to meet either of them, so I guess it was just written in the stars.
We met and instantly fell into premature love with reckless abandon. He was like worn in jeans – just perfectly comfortable and always made me feel amazing. He was the sort of guy who would drive an hour to bring me a cough drop cus I thought I might be getting a sore throat. Or flowers on a Tuesday. When he went on his senior trip to Florida, we almost died of missing each other. His friends told me he set a picture of me next to him at the dinner table every night. Hah! We were crazy about each other.
My Senior year, I was home sick and there was a snowstorm. He was broke, as is the fate of every unemployed high school boy who grossly underestimates the cost of having a girlfriend. He drove to my house and handed me a bouquet of sticks. He said he’d picked them outside of school and he hoped that 1) he wouldn’t get another in-school suspension and 2) it would cheer me up. I’m not one for sentimental crap, but to this day that is still my most favorite gift. I always kept them in the back window of my car.
We ended up dating for 4 years. And although his love for me seemingly grew by the day, mine didn’t. But why?
There are many reasons. First, I was already thinking about long term compatibility (as we women do) and since we were so young, he was still quite immature. He was already talking marriage and I just didn’t know if he would ever grow up enough to be responsible enough for a real job and a family. I guess you could say it was a classic case of bad timing. But on my end, I admit, I was also too young and inexperienced to fully appreciate him. I hadn’t dated much and I was doubtful that we were the best match and I wanted to see what else was out there.
Well, a whole lotta jerks. That’s what.
But, tis the fate of many a confused, early twenty-something trying to figure it all out.
That breakup was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. He was my first boyfriend, I was his first girlfriend. He cherished me. We were best friends. He was completely blindsided by the breakup and it strung out for two torturous years because neither of us could fully let go.
I’ve never stopped thinking about him. For years, I cried over it and what I’d done. We were in touch until before I left to study abroad in London. I had previously refused his attempts to get back together, but while I was in London, I truly missed him. I tried contacting him after I returned, thinking that with three years passed we had both come to the point where we could make it work. My dad informed me that he had a shotgun wedding two weeks before I came back.
Four years went by. He had moved. No one could get in touch with him. I had heard bits and pieces of how he was doing, but his wife forbid him from speaking to me. I desperately hoped that he was happy.
Then, one day, I was answering calls at the bank and I heard his voice on the other line. My heart completely sank. We talked for a half hour.
It was good to hear his voice.
Nice guys are tricky. Sometimes, we just have to get to the right place in our lives where we can truly appreciate them. Sometimes we have to go through a lot of heartache with not-so-nice-guys. Sometimes, we just have to grow the crap up.
Sometimes, it’s all of the above.
photo credit: http://mi-sparkle.tumblr.com/post/9726811754