My First Love As A Late Blooming Wallflower.I had had a few odd dates and two short relationships that fizzled, because I had thought of them as friends, but when they asked me out I decided to give it a try. I had naively thought that by being a couple the feelings would come, they didn't, and it hurt the friendships because they did have those feelings, and I was unable to reciprocate.
Then I met my first real love when I was twenty. There was automatic chemistry when we met. We were standing next to each other at a discussion panel and barely made small talk. I kept sneaking glances, tongue tied, and unable to process why. A few days later I got an e-mail from him, he had asked around until he discovered we had a mutual friend who gave him my e-mail address.
He told me he had been too nervous to talk to me at the panel, what he did to get my address, and just said he thought I seemed like a really interesting person, especially after talking to people who knew me as he searched for some kind of contact info. Soon we were exchanging e-mails. We met up to just hang out and ended up catching a movie. I don't know who reached over first but we were holding hands and exchanging nervous glances before the end. I don't really remember all that much about the film.
When we left the theater is was dark and had started to rain. We made a mad dash to his jeep because it was closer. He drove me over to my car towards the back of the lot and we sat there a moment, saying how much fun we had. I leaned over and kissed him and for the first time in my life I understood what a powerful connection can be formed when two pairs of lips meet. The longest minute of my life passed and we said good night. I left his jeep and got in my car as he slowly drove off in the other direction.
We started talking on the phone. A goofy grin forming on my face at the sound of his voice and that fluttery restless feeling welling up, addictive and almost painful. We started going out. We would meet up for coffee with his friends, watch a movie, or just spend time at his friend's house where he lived. He was the first and so far only person I have ever had sex with.
We met and an inopportune time. He was planning on transferring an hour and a half to the east, and in the fall I would be and hour and a half further to the west at my school. A three hour drive to see each other. I was able to arrange the classes I needed and my work schedule to give me one three day weekend a month to drive out and see him. He came over to my place for an extended weekend. It was the only time he took the long drive over. Then I got an e-mail from one of his friends he lived with. They suspected him of cheating on me because he was spending a lot of time at this one girl's apartment. They had been friends. We talked and he assured me he wasn't and explained how this girl had lost her roommate and was scared of living alone.
This drove a rift between him and his current roommates. He ended up moving in with the girl. When I visited she let me know that she liked him and had been planning on asking him out before I had come along.
We went on a trip with some friends. I felt like an accessory when we were in public, something to get him more attention. I didn't think he intended to do this, and I didn't know how to say it.
As time went on when I visited we would be in the same room but I felt left out. We rarely saw each other and I didn't want to be sitting in front of the tv, or watching him on the computer. The only time I felt he was with me was when we were kissing. I didn't know how to express how I felt. That I wanted him to come and visit me every once in a while. That I wanted to spend more time just the two of us that didn't involve us kissing or making love.
My best friend noticed I didn't look happy and finally I talked about it to someone. We and a few friends were about the go on another trip together. I planned on talking to him about it. telling him he could either spend more quality time with me, visit me as often as I did the visiting, or it was over, because I just couldn't keep feeling the torturous longing I felt. This feeling that had at some point replaced the joyful fluttering that was almost painful. Now it was just painful.
I didn't want to ruin the trip, but I ended up avoiding him a great deal, trying to figure out how i was going to say what needed to be said. I think he noticed a little but he didn't ask or mention it. Finally our carpool arrived back at my friends house. Those who were staying the night and leaving in the morning went into the house. He was getting ready to leave to make it back in time for work the next day. I went out with him to his car and we talked. I told him how even when I'm with him I miss him because he doesn't seem to be there. I told him I just couldn't keep going like that, and things had to change. We were both crying and somewhere in there he broke up with me, and I was comforting him not realizing quite what had happened and feeling like I was falling apart. He drove off. I left without talking to anyone.
It hit me when I got home. I don't think i was really alive for the next few days. That ache and longing I had felt before was now all consuming. I e-mailed him, asking to try again. He told me he needed someone close by, that he couldn't handle the distance. I buried myself in school work and my job. I didn't hang out with friends. I was only half there. I had finally had the courage to say what I wanted and I had lost everything. We had been together a year and a half.
I spent a lot of time in those first few months trying to figure out what had happened. What if I had kept my mouth shut, or said something sooner. What about all the things I had meant to tell him about myself but had never found a way to share with anyone. I had wanted to share those things. As soon as my mind centered on such thoughts I buried myself deeper in work to avoid them.
The next time we saw each other was half a year later at the same convention that we met at. The fluttering longing and painful ache hit me when I saw him, and everything went numb when I saw the girl, his roommate walk up behind him and hold his hand. They were dating. They had been for months now. I didn't know if they had been dating while we were still together, or if it had been a rebound, who had pursued who. I still don't.
We saw each other again a year later, the same convention. Again we ran into each other and made strained small talk. Again she walked up. This time she seemed to purposefully flash her hand. It had a ring on it. The friend who was with me made an excuse to leave. Why did he still have such a hold on me?
Half a year passed and I was helping a friend out at a difference convention. He walked in talked briefly to me and lingered. I was torn between wanting him to just leave and never come back and staying. Even after all this time I wasn't over him. I hadn't been on a single date since we broke up. I'm not sure if there really hadn't been any opportunities or that I was blind to them.
He finally said he wanted to talk to me later and left. That evening he found me and asked if we could talk. I asked if we could walk at the same time, I needed something to take the edge off of my nervous energy. We walked in a large circle, two or three blocks in each direction. I forget how many times were circled around. At first it was just small talk, catching up on things that were unrelated to our relationship. School, friends, health, anything but the "us" that didn't exist anymore. I mentioned the fact he was engaged. He told me yes but there were some problems. I started to get cold, he noticed and we stopped by his car and he gave me a coat. We continued walking as I savored the warms and the smell that was uniquely him coming off the jacket.
Finally we came to the topic of our break up. He told me he noticed whenever we saw each other I looked uncomfortable, and he didn't want to ruin the conventions I went to because we would see each other. At some point we made it back to the convention center, it was late, and we found a set of chairs away from anyone. Pretty soon I was telling him about all the things that had run through my mind, and the things I had avoided even thinking about consciously. Then he hit me with something I had longed to hear and the worse thing possible he could have ever said to me. He told me he still had feelings for me and loved me. I don't remember exactly what we said after that. I had been trying so hard not to cry but I could feel the hot tears streaming down, and then I saw he was crying too. I asked him why. Why did he break up with me. He told me he had made a rash choice. That he hadn't wanted to hurt me anymore and that seemed like the best option at the time. Finally he said he had to go. I asked if he would be back for the last day of the convention, he said he might. I watched him leave.
When I got up and managed to walk down the hall before I started shaking so badly I couldn't stand. I had gone from content with my life to feeling worse than I could ever recall feeling in an evening. All because of the man I had fallen in love with four and a half years ago, and had broken up with three years prior. A friend saw me and got me a seat and a strong drink, shooing off the few onlookers that lingered that late at night as I collected myself.
He didn't come back the next day and I was hollow and looking for him and at the same time hoping he would stay away. When I went home I felt broken. The next month slid by as I once again buried myself in work to keep from thinking about it. I e-mailed him saying I was sorry for some of the things i had said, for admitting I still loved him. We met up once for coffee, where the conversation was casual, and inside I felt like I was having a heart attack. I watched his hands, and tried to think of every tiny thing I ever disliked about him, to convince myself this was for the best. To convince myself that I wasn't still in love with him. We left. As I turned to get on the highway I saw him in the other lane and I knew I was just not over it. I cried on the way home.
Eventually I thought about him less and less. It was just like when we first broke up, it felt like a fresh open wound that slowly healed over, leaving a thick scar, that was tender when touched.
I saw him again this year, at the same convention where we met. He was with her. They seemed happy. I couldn't look him in the eye. That painful feeling still hits me whenever I see him and in the days after it still stings, like a stretched scar.
I'm happy with my life. I love my job. I'm buying a house. I have a few close friends. I get along well enough with my dysfunctional family.
I want to meet someone. I want to feel that fluttery joy that almost hurts. I want to feel that connection that sparks across when lips meet. I don't make it a priority, but I'm open to that possibility. My life is fulfilling with or without a significant other.
I still love him. I think I always will. Despite as much pain as I've felt, if I could go back to that moment where I nervously stood next to him, or when I read that first e-mail, or when I leaned over and kissed him, I still would have done it all. I like to think I would have communicated how I felt better. That I would have shared those things about myself I've never told anyone. That even if in the end we still would have parted ways, that maybe it would have had some closure instead of this trail of cracked windows and doors leading me on this chase for the impossible. The funny thing is through it all, I wanted him to be happy, more than anything else. I still do. I honestly do hope he is happy.
I can't change things. I can just accept that I was a boy who fell in love, and never was able to fall out.