25 February 2010

The First Cut

We met in high school, dated, and I cried in the cafeteria when we broke up.  It took him a few years to apologize and by that point I was in college and he was off in the military; he came to visit me in my dorm room and we went to his parents house and made out but I had to stop because I felt mildly repulsed at anything sexual between us.  Not because I didn't care about him, but I think because I knew how much he wanted to. 
Fast forward about a year, and he (we'll call him G) was back in town on leave for about a month.  I was living in an apartment on campus with six (yes, 6, in one apartment) other women.  (Girls, really, we were all of 19.)  I think I saw him once or twice while he was around but he had his friends and I had my I'm-a-little-too-busy-and-over-you stuff going on so it wasn't anything special.  He moved to Camp LeJeune and called to give me his new contact info, you know, just in case.
I surprised myself as much as I surprised him when I actually decided to call him a few days later.  It just seemed like a nice thing to do.  What was even more surprising was that I kept calling, and looking forward to his phone calls.  This was in the fall and by winter break we were speaking every day, and instead of repulsed I felt intensely attracted to him with a rawness and need that reflects youth and inexperience.  The kind of attraction that consumes most of your waking thoughts and some of your sleeping ones, where you feel like you will actually ignite when that person finally touches you.
I was so young and still really didn't know what I was doing, or what needed to be done, in bed, and we had never gone much beyond second base so there was the mystery element present... he is still the only person I've ever hit home base with over the phone before we got there in person.
In early February G's best friend was going to be home on leave after graduating from boot camp.  G decided that he should come home and surprise him.  I was very much in favor of this, as at this point it would be ridiculous to think (especially being so much less cynical and critical than I am now) that he wouldn't spend every possible minute with me.  He came, he surprised, and he did spend every possible minute with me.  I think we had a total of maybe 48 hours together, after he drove to Madison, WI from Jacksonville, NC non-stop with a buddy.  Then they drove back.
The next week was Valentine's Day.  It was on a Wednesday.  He sent roses, then he asked if he could come back the next weekend.  I said yes, he did, and that was it.

How to explain what happened next?  We fell in love.  I had no doubts.  I look back now and I see such purity, such faith, such trust.  Not before or since have I felt with such certainty that this person was on my side - that we were on a team regardless of what fell around us.  I never considered cheating and it never felt like a sacrifice even though I saw him at the most once a month and usually for a rushed expensive weekend.  I don't regret any of it.  We loved each others families, and they loved us.  (Still do actually - his sister is about to have her first child and I will be Aunt Caitlin, and I see the other sister and usually the Mom and Dad every time I'm home.  It's been more than five and a half years since I've seen him.)

When it dawned on me that if I didn't study abroad in college I would forever regret it I realized that it would be a challenge for G and I, but I always believed we'd be one of the the couples honest and strong enough to make it through a semester.  We weren't.  I still believe that as soon as I made the decision to go, he felt I was moving away from him rather than moving forward in my life.  I didn't think the two had to go together.  The 9 hour flight to Europe changed us irrevocably.  It took two months to break up, three more months for him to try to get back together with me, then five months and a war for me to ask him to be with me again.  He said yes, then realized he didn't, then broke my heart to equal his.

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