I’ve been avoiding writing this post for a few weeks because I’m not sure that it’s going to be funny.
Don’t worry, you’re going to laugh. You’re just going to laugh at me instead of with me. Well, I’ll laugh with you at the beginning, but at the end I’m going to get a little sappy and self-reflective. Anyone who is even a little bit older than me (I said “older,” not “old!”) will tell me that it’s just a phase to get over. Give me my angsty moment, ok?! You have now been warned.
A little while back, I went out to coffee with an old friend. When I say “an old friend,” I actually mean my high school best friend with whom I was madly in love. No big deal.
We met through our church group, and it was obvious to, oh, everyone that our feelings for each other were “more than friends.” Plus, my teenage, self-righteous self believed that God loved us more than others because we were both very devout, and therefore He was going to bless our relationship, in whatever form it may take, and our futures with puppies and rainbows and as much ice cream as I wanted to eat. Because that’s totally how God works. The pressure and expectations were sky high. Mostly to come up with a really good pick-up line, which we used to text to each other during our breaks between classes. Once, when he ditched me on New Years because he was “too tired to stay up late,” I visited with some other guy friends instead and just happened to forget to mention that I wasn’t interested in these guys at all. If it wasn’t direct manipulation, it was definitely a strategic attempt to make him jealous, and oh baby did it work. I don’t think we said more than two words to each other for like three weeks, which is basically an eternity in teenage years. I even became a mall rat for a while because he worked at a dessert place (down the hall from American Eagle, in case you were wondering) and I’d go to the mall just to visit with him on his ten minute breaks. “Just friends” my ass.
So finally, finally he asks me out on a date. My first date ever. And, well. It was a disaster.
The first date is supposed to be magical, right? It’s supposed to have fireworks and butterflies and flowers. The flowers were there (tulips, which I definitely didn’t fully appreciate at the time), and the butterflies which might have been hunger because I was starving as I waited for him to pick me up, but there were no fireworks. The fizzle, in fact, was auible in the restaurant where we went to eat breakfast. Breakfast? Yep, breakfast.
It was at this breakfast was where I learned My #1 Dating Rule:
Never date a man who eats less than you.
(I find descriptions of eating to be really awkward, especially after my high school English teacher told us about a scene from a book that is basically porn via Thanksgiving dinner. So does that rule need more explanation and/or the story of what we/I ate? I don’t think so. Unless they are on a very restrictive diet for genuine health reasons, men should always eat more than you. That does not include cake. I can pack that joyful goodness down, and it’s not really fair for anyone to live up to that standard.)
There were other moments of awkwardness, but what it came down to was that our friendship was only a friendship, or we had missed the perfect moment to transform it into a romance– like the scene in Beauty and the Beast where the Beast levitates and starts glowing out of his fingertips as he turns into a human (who is apparently named Prince Adam but no one ever says that name in the movie, and believe me, I would know), except the transformation only made it half way so the Beast has some weirdly patchy fur and huge feet with claws. (And you know what they say about huge feet…Oh God, I just made that joke about a Disney movie…I need to wash my innocence with bleach…) My dreams of the perfect boyfriend had been dashed at the onset. Now how would I get my puppies and rainbows???
Unfortunately, it wasn’t too much longer before we lost contact. I still feel guilty about it, truthfully, because I don’t actually remember why the after-dating attempt at friendship didn’t work. But there’s no use crying over spilled milk, unless it is spilled on your brand new clothes which I have never done in my life, obviously. Now we’re both out of college, and he was in town to go hiking. (I passed on that, thanks.) So of course we had to meet for coffee.
And I was nervous. When meeting up with a person that you were madly in love with, something crazy is bound to happen, right?
He was going to confess that he still carried a torch for me. He was going to reveal that he’s eloped with our mutual friend, whom, oh by the way, I introduced to him. He would need a kidney, and I would be the only match. Killer bees would surround the coffee shop, holding us all hostage and leaving only the two of us as survivors after all the other patrons and staff tried to make a break for it, dying in excruciating agony reminicent of the tracker jacker scene from The Hunger Games but without Liam Hemsworth at the beginning of the story to leave me with a happy memory. Whatever the strange thing was going to be, it was going to be big.
Well, it was big, but there were no mutated insects or marriage proposals.
This boy– who held my hand on our way home from camp, who wiped my tears when my friend passed away, who gently teased me for the country twang I put into all the songs I sang– he’s a grown man. A sweet, compassionate, well-spoken man. His acne is gone. His shoulders are broader and he’s a few inches taller. He gleefully sat down with me at the kiddy table and used a few more swear words than I was quite comfortable with, considering the youthful neighbors we were sitting next to. He is, for lack of a better word, an adult.
Is this what it’s going to be like from now on? Are all the people that I knew as kids going to grow up to be real people, with careers and children and money problems and cellulite? Are they never again going to bleach their hair like members of a boy band? Wear low-rise jeans so tight that they have two inches of muffin top hanging over the side? Mention their crushes’ name in every other sentence? Oh wait. We still totally do that…
I left the coffee shop a little bit sad that the boy who touched my heart so deeply way back when, who still lives there and whom I still picture when the sun comes out and The Beatles come on my ipod at the same time, doesn’t exist anymore. I wonder if he misses the girl he was in love with as much as I miss the boy I was in love with.
But maybe God did bless our relationship. I’m more of a cat person now, although I’d take the puppies too. Rainbows are more phenomenal now than ever, and unlimited ice cream would be fantastic if it was guaranteed that I wouldn’t gain any weight. We’re both still devout, loving people, with thankfully a whole lot more gray areas that we used to think were all black and white. It takes time to know someone deeply, and that deep understanding doesn’t necessarily fade away. I think, despite our time apart, that it is still there.
After we chatted for an hour or two, only a few doors down from the restaurant where we spent that God-awful morning, I walked away knowing that he is an absolutely incredible guy– a far better man than the boy he grew from. And I hope and pray that I am a better woman than the girl I left behind.