Malcolm Gladwell talks about snap judgments. We know things before we know them. In fact, Gladwell states that it only takes us 3 seconds to make up our minds about something or someone. I have always been an amazing judge of people; I regularly know the second I meet someone what effect they will have on my life. I see potential some may not even see in themselves. It’s a gift…an intuitive gift that I work very hard developing. I bring this up mainly to point out the wonder of our minds and how we should just trust it all. Trust the process. I should probably put that everywhere I go, just to remember it. TRUST THE PROCESS.
Perfect example of this is a guy named A. We grew up 2 miles from one another and were exposed to many of the same life stories. He fascinated me. I met him first when I used to take the city bus to junior high with my best friend Ashley. He was 3 years ahead of me in school, so he was in high school then. We met through a friend of mine, Susan, who had been camp counselor for summer camp my mom used to put me in (this one was ‘wet and wild’ themed with a trip to Wild Rivers). A wanted NOTHING to do with me, but I have his face etched in my memory from that first introduction. I didn’t know why, but I felt connected to him. When I was a freshman in high school, we saw each other without acknowledgement at high school football games. Who cares, right? I did.
Sophomore year, my friend Red invited me to the Weezer/Jimmy Eat World/Tenacious D concert at SDSU for her birthday, and out of a sold out crowd with no cell phones, there he was. That is when I took true notice. He was there with his girlfriend, but started talking to me. I smiled, and he handed me his business card (A, student, schoolemailaddress). I took it and filed it away with all my documents (really it was a huge drawer full of crap). I didn’t think about him actively for another 4 years until the day I applied to live in the dorms at his university. At the same time, I came across his card (I was looking for my vaccination card), and I took a gamble by emailing him. 2 weeks later, after I had already forgotten, he replied that he was living in Spain but would like to meet up when he returned from study abroad.
So far, this story could be seen as horrible timing and a missed opportunity. I prefer to call it trusting your gut (AND the process). A returned, and, as planned, he contacted me to meet up. We went to dinner and chatted. I had a boyfriend at the time (M.), and I had told A about him. As we lived on the same campus, A and I started “meeting up” on a semi-regular basis. We kept getting dinner together on campus. Dinner turned into watching Family Guy. catching up, making dinner in his apartment, doing homework in the same room, spending tons of time together alone and out with friends. Basically, we were dating, and I loved it. A LOT. After talking with A about my relationship troubles, I broke up with M, my longest, most turbulent relationship, and I LOVED being included and dated and taken out by someone who actually cared about me. A was fabulous. He was first generation, had lived abroad, and made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I was crazy about him. At the same time we could talk for hours, I also enjoyed the silence with him. I enjoyed just sitting next to him. One night, while watching Family Guy and drinking wine, A kissed me. It was a couple months into spending time with him, and that kiss just felt like the perfect spontaneous moment. That’s the night we became lovers. Two kids who grew up a mile apart, randomly meeting all over the city, falling for each other for the first time…
Sounds romantic, right? Well, it actually was kind of perfect, until I noticed a picture of him with some girl on his wall. From bed, I asked, “Who’s that in the photo?” A: “Oh, her? That’s my fiancée. In Spain.” It was like a bad rage comic. I had been dating his guy, everything was perfect, and then, after I slept with him, nothing was perfect.
His fiancée in Spain came to stay for 6 weeks. I remember vividly both the day that he asked if I would pick her up at the airport and the day I actually did pick her up at the airport. He handed me a camera and asked if I would take pictures of their meeting when she came out of the gates. I choked back tears, put on a smile, and did what he asked. Apparently she was fond of me, because they asked to spend time with me on a very regular basis for those 6 weeks. Feeling humiliated that I was in love with her fiancée and that I had helped him cheat, I felt it was only my penance to spend time with them if she so requested. We even DROVE TO DISNEYLAND TOGETHER. A tried to pass me off on his younger brother, who then hit on me most of the day. I remember the line of Thunder Mountain was when I lost it. I sat down on a rock and started to cry…thinking: What the fuck am I doing here? Why am I putting myself through this? And then he came, put his hand on my shoulder, and asked if I was ok. I sucked it up and dealt with the rest of the day…and then decided I couldn’t put myself through it anymore.
So a few weeks later the fiancée left, and I threw myself into feeding my broken heart with guys on and off campus. None were memorable, they were just nightly distractions. Then A sent me a gift for Christmas, asked to see me. Reminded me how special I was to him…and I let him back in for a month and a half. My birthday was coming around, and he said he had reserved for us to go to dinner. I bought a new dress for the date, was really excited to go out, when I received an email that his fiancee had bought him a ticket to Spain for Valentine’s Day and he wouldn’t be back for my birthday. I cried for weeks. He sent me flowers and candy and I was fucking done with it. I felt completely ruined. I found more distractions…some who I had old flames with (like J.), some randoms, some regulars (like CM). That went on for months.
Until the day I ran into the friend of mine who started this whole mess back in summer camp. She invited me out to SunGod Festival, only the coolest music festival on campus…an entire day of just partying and no cops. I shouldn’t have said yes, but I was lonely and empty. So I went to meet her and her boyfriend at a restaurant to eat before partying, and A showed up with his group of friends. We locked eyes, I heard his little comments and jokes, and I was sucked into the madness. Funny enough, though we spent the time hanging out together, I spent so much time getting wasted, avoiding him, and avoiding my feelings, that he ended up sleeping with someone else…someone not me and someone not his girlfriend. He thought I had gone home with a guy (which I hadn’t…I was drunk and the guy walked me home and slept on the couch in my suite), so he fucked a random girl too. I woke up the next morning, calling him to see if we could get breakfast, and I heard her in the background. I was livid. No more contact, I said. NO MORE.
Until about a month later. I had moved into the CLMT house by then, started dating B, whom I had no chemistry with but enjoyed dating because of that. A called one day, out of the blue, and asked for me to come to Carlsbad to see him. He was leaving the next day to move to Spain for good and wanted to resolve things. I agreed because I wanted closure and cried all the way up there. I helped him pack as he started to apologize. Then, out of the blue, he spontaneously told me he loved me. It was a crazy, heated, passionate moment that I was completely unable to enjoy. No matter what he said, I was in love with someone who would never give his heart to me. He always wanted to have me but not me to have him, not completely. But I told him I loved him too…because I meant it. At that point, it had been almost a year since he first took me to dinner. He had spent nearly every day with me for months, I had met his friends and loved them, he had met my parents. He was the first person I actively chose to love. And I was still the other woman.
I cried all the way home. The next morning, he called me from the airport to say goodbye. He said he didn’t want to go and leave me. I remember feeling most strong when I said, “Then don’t get on the plane.” THAT was the moment he finally had to choose. And he didn’t choose me.
That day, I stayed in bed. It was June 21, 2004. I cried all day, listening to Third Eye Blind “Motorcycle Drive By” and finally wrote these words. This is what I learned from A:
The Greatest Lesson
–Before you I could run
I could detach myself from anyone or anywhere
and even though it would sting for a moment
I believed I could save myself heartache
–Before you my purpose wasn’t clear
I feared love because I knew
I thought I knew I didn’t deserve it
I knew nothing of reciprocity or respect
–You have given me life
Opened my heart to endless opportunities
Shown me the joy love can bring
Mended my wings and allowed me to flutter
–I can be no one but myself with you
You give me no reason to hide
Those walls I spent so long building shatter in a moment
And you have always been here to hold me
–You’re leaving with me knowing the feeling is not quite the same
And yet the days we spent still gave me life
Gave me a meaning, a reason to change
My days to run are over and my heart is free
–Before you go
I need you to remember that I love you
This love is deep and strong and painful
It scares me–all of me loves you
It need not be that you love me
I have learned the greatest lesson
And to share that with you was worth every second
My feet have stopped and I am free.
I still feel this way for A, though the passion has died and I would never want someone who didn’t respect me like he didn’t. I also don’t agree so much with this poem, for at that time, I was so heartbroken that I was not free at all. In fact, I was so heartbroken that I ran from any man who was anything like A: well-read, stable, funny, sweet, super nerdy, well-spoken, interesting, complimentary, kind, wanted me to hang out with their friends, this list goes on. Until about a month ago, I ran from every “A” I had the chance to meet, believing they, too, would have another woman waiting for them, with me in the wings, just the understudy.
Farewell, A. Thank you for:
- teaching how to recognize love
- being the person who embodied almost every trait I ever wanted and do want in a partner
- reminding me the importance of honesty
- teaching me loss, true loss