Let me tell you a long story. I know this is out of character but bear with me. There’s a payoff.
When I was in high school, I dated a very questionable guy. Please do not ask me why I did this, because I did not know then and do not know now. Anyhow, he treated me like the stick you use to scrape dog poop out of the treads of your boots and yet when he dumped me for the third or fourth time I got so depressed I didn’t want to leave the house.
Cue the arrival of my oldest friend, M. We’d known each other since 6th grade and she always knew exactly what to say. That particular night it was “stop being dramatic, we’re going to a party.” I whined and made sounds all the way to the car but eventually she got me to the house of a friend of hers from the high school she had previously attended and coaxed me out by telling me there were two very interesting things in the house: beer and college boys. She dragged me in and introduced me to the host of the party, whose birthday we were celebrating in addition to spring break and the eternal teenage dream of getting shitfaced while your parents are out of town.
I remember everything about that moment. The way he was sort of leaning on the edge of the table with a plastic cup of beer in his hand, the way his engineer boots clunked on the floor when he straightened up to say hello, how his eyes just seemed to capture mine. I have a hard time looking people in the eye when I meet them, but not him. Mister E kissed me for the first time that night and, bit by bit, showed me that I deserved to be loved deeply and without condition.
Then came the stupid, courtesy of me. Things happened that sent us hundreds of miles apart, and I did a terrible thing that made me tearfully break up with him weeks later because I knew he deserved better. He wanted to make it work and I couldn’t let myself try because I was afraid I’d hurt him again. We parted ways and I returned to Idiot Boy, I suppose as a way of punishing myself.
Twice over the years, we got in touch with each other. The first time, I called him from my dorm in college. Things were distant and awkward, and a year or so later I was married. The second time, he found me as a result of random online searching for me that was found by my then-boyfriend while I was getting divorced. It was much warmer between us but he stopped emailing me abruptly and we once again lost touch.
Then, fourteen years after we met, I was living in Chicago and enjoying indiscretions with young men and ladies several years younger than myself. I had just parted company with one when I got a Facebook friend request from one Mister E. My heart stopped. Fifteen seconds later, we were friends. Twelve minutes later, he messaged me.
As my ex-husband and ex-boyfriend will tell you, I have said many times that if I could change just one thing in my life it would have been staying with Mister E and working things out. The moment I knew I was getting a second chance with him, I promised myself and him that I would never hurt him or let anything come between us again.
When he was nineteen and I was sixteen, we talked about getting married. Now we’re both in our thirties and we’ve stopped talking about it.
I cannot think of anything that would make me happier in this world than spending the rest of my life with this guy, the one sitting on the floor cursing at his Xbox and letting the cats crawl all over him. We may not be perfect, but we’re getting pretty close.