Ten years ago today I was 18. I had just ended a three year relationship with the boy I was convinced I would marry. We had broken up many months before, but were still “hanging out,” and my heart gave him a March 1st deadline that I surprisingly managed to stick with. It’s like there was a before and after, and once the calendar struck March I shut off my feelings like a faucet. I wish I still had that kind of power over my emotions.
Ten years ago today I had a horrific fight with my parents. I can’t remember exactly what I had to do – I think I was supposed to drive my sister somewhere and didn’t want to. I remember my mom screaming at me on the phone. I remember throwing the phone at my sister’s head (probably aiming for it) and slamming her bedroom door open so hard that it left a door handle-shaped impression in the drywall. My mom had taken away my car until further notice and I. was. PISSED.
So you see, Eric and I are a product of circumstance. He really was at the right place at the right time. I had met him about a year earlier when he started working at the (now out-of-business) Hollywood Video where I worked. That was my very first job. We only worked together for a few months before I left to become a barista at Wegmans, but I still stopped by to rent movies and hang out with my former coworkers. It just so happens that not long before this colossal fight, I had stopped in to find him red-eyed and delirious, working 14 hour shifts because someone had quit. Sympathetic, I brought him a double mocha from work and he gave me his number in case I “wanted to watch a movie or something sometime.”
I had his number handy on that night of rebellion. I was feeling young, I was feeling reckless. Screw my ex-boyfriend who stopped loving me! Screw my parents for taking away my car! Screw the whole messed up world for messing up my life! I dialed the number and asked if he would come pick me up and rescue me from my parents. It was so out of character for me; I knew him, but barely. I remember standing at the end of the driveway when he pulled up in his beat-up red pickup truck and took me back to his house. I remember feeling vindicated.
We watched a movie. We got drunk on rum and coke that we drank out of mason jars. I remember it was one of those nights that I never wanted to end. I remember when his hand kept creeping closer and closer to mine. I saw it coming, but I pretended to ignore it. I distinctly remember when he finally kissed me. I didn’t go home that night.
The next three months we were inseparable. I forgot what it felt like to not have him around. We hung out every day for every hour that we possibly could. I was smitten. I was falling hard.
But then there was drama… always drama! He stopped taking my calls. He started getting distant. We went back and forth for a while. I didn’t let him go without a fight.
It’s been ten years… I could write for days about all the things we went through. We were always extreme – so happy, so sad, so angry, so euphoric. We had no even keel, no happy medium. We were passionate in every moment.
The highlights: We got engaged in 2004, set a wedding date in 2005. Called it off. Got back together. We got engaged again in 2006, set a wedding date in 2007. Called it off. Got back together. We got engaged in 2009 with a triumphant rally of “third time’s the charm!” We wanted to be married, but the timing was never right. Too much crap kept getting in the way.
We actually, really, finally got married in 2010. Our relationship has changed so much since it’s rocky start. I trust him completely. I love him. It sounds so simple, but to me, it’s profound. Over the course of our break-ups I kept trying to love other people because it would be “easier.” I kept trying to take the easy road, but my heart kept sending me back to him. He’s the only person I could never get over.
My friends – and even me at my most self-righteous – would love to tell you it was all his fault. A lot of it was. He had the tendency to be immature, stand-offish, distant, mean and childish. But remember, he was a man in his early 20s. It would be stranger if he wasn’t acting that way. And for all my indignation, I was no angel either. He brought out my most needy, clingy, annoying, controlling, nagging and even obsessive tendencies. We were mutually flawed. What we really needed was time to grow up. Both of us.
It may sound alarming, all those break-ups. All that heartache. I wish I could explain how I “just know” that he’s the one for me. Let’s put it this way – I could have chosen someone more compatible. I could have chosen someone more stable, less dramatic and more even-tempered. I could have. But every single time I did choose that kind of person, Eric stayed in my heart and my heart never felt peaceful. If I let my mind wander, it landed on him.
He’s the one that got away… except I never let him get away.