A Love from Long Ago Returns
His email came unexpectedly.
I was serving as an organizer for our high school reunion, so I admit thoughts of him had flittered through my mind while we worked to compile lists of classmates. I had wondered about his family, his wife, his happiness, and if he ever thought of me. So, when that email arrived, my breath stopped short and my heart and hopes took off.
We had dated all throughout high school—from the summer before we began high school through the summer after our graduation. It was July before our sophomore year, when his brother and my sister introduced us during a game of tennis. The meeting was not-so-cleverly staged as a casual game of mixed doubles; our siblings had been quite sure that we would hit it off. Turned out, they were right.
From the very beginning, there was an uncommon connection between us. He was tall, skinny, and full of mischief. I was quite and a little unsure of myself. He made me laugh with his goofy jokes; he made me feel beautiful when his eyes held mine; and he made me feel remarkably comfortable and complete—corny as it sounds, when I was with him, my self-doubts and insecurities dissolved. A strength took hold. Together we were one; a single loving entity with a crazy sense of humor. Love was good and life was fun.
Days spent riding bikes and playing tennis turned into afternoons cruising town in a convertible and late nights making out by the fireplace at my parents’ house. We learned about love and intimacy during those moments we could steal…after my parents went upstairs to bed or after school before his father returned home from work. Our teenage libidos, mutual attraction, deep friendship and the trust we shared combined to create a powerfully passionate force. A force unlike anything I had ever felt before or have ever felt since.
We spent most of our free time together and developed our own silly language punctuated with goofy words and abbreviated versions of sayings from TV commercials. Pet names we’d created for each other added another dimension to the “us” that only we knew. We shared so much love and laughter, but we also held each other tightly through the pains of growing up and of families breaking apart. To say he was my best friend during those years would simply be understatement—he was my everything.
Senior year brought opportunities to branch out and look to the future. Each of us did so, exploring who we wanted to become and where our futures would lead us. When the time came to go away to college, we ultimately decided on the same state school.
Even though we would attend the same university, we understood we would do so as individuals and not as the couple we had been during the previous 3½ years. Was this discussed and agreed upon? No. I don’t recall that being the case. I have no memories of tearful good-byes or a definitive break-up; it was more of an understanding, a vaguely expressed agreement. We knew that we needed to grow up, move on, and become the adult versions of ourselves. We also knew that staying together would place limitations on us as individuals that we didn’t want for ourselves or for each other. So in the next phase of life, college started and we ended.
College was such an exciting time in life! Moving away from home, making decisions on your own, doing what you will without asking permission. And there were so many new people of interest to meet! Having had the same boyfriend through high school meant that I had very little experience with dating. Freshman year of college opened up a whole new social life to me. Dating was a way to pass time. It was all in good fun; I didn’t give my heart to anyone, but the rush of being pursued by so many was intoxicating! Then, when I saw my high schoool sweetheart with someone else, my perspective on this new fun changed. Forever. My broken heart would not recover.
It would take nearly three decades before I would understand the pain I felt then and its present-day consequences for my relationships.
Then one afternoon, there it is...the email from him.
"Saw you are arranging our reunion. Cool! Can we get together for coffee before? It would be great to see you!"
That was all it took. We had coffee. We wrote frequently. We spoke on the phone. I left my marriage. He came to me...
He was the one true love of my life. All men who came after him would be held to his standard and none would ever measure up. Finally, at age 50, we reunited. He held me in his arms, looked into my eyes, and softly kissed my lips. Immediately I recognized that I was home once again.