Aren’t we all suckers for a good romance? Enjoy mine.
I thought I knew what love was, once. When I was young, I saw Nicholas Sparks movies, cried over rom-coms, and was entranced by Jane Austen. And I was in love with my high school sweetheart, who we’ll call Old Boyfriend.
With this boy, I thought I knew what love was. We loved and hated each other with equal passions. We fought so angrily, sometimes, that I thought I wanted to kill him, but the thought of having him taken away was devastating.
Inevitably, that kind of crazed fire just burns out. And it did.
Afterwards, I felt empty, and exhausted from years of fighting to hold on to something that didn’t really work from the start. I was trying to be someone that I never really was, and he was always trying to make concessions for my “bad” behavior.
I wept. I was sad, and scared for what the unknown future. I didn’t really know what to do with myself.
It took me awhile to rescue myself from my own sadness. I was in pretty deep. He had taken all of our mutual friends with him in the breakup, and it felt almost like a divorce. I can’t imagine if we’d gotten married, and had to duke it out for years, only for it to end like this, and I’m SO glad I didn’t. He wasn’t a bad person, and neither was I, but things just didn’t work out. We weren’t right for each other.
The turning point in this crappy relationship was about 6 months before it ended. I was going to college in Kentucky, and had several lovely roommates (all of whom I still miss dearly), and one of them, we’ll call her Kaylie, was always having friends over. This one boy kept coming over, and just had the NERVE to insert himself into our social situations. We’ll call him Interrupting Boy. He watched movies with us, and he would always pop into my bedroom when I was watching a movie with Old Boyfriend, providing a funny quip, or interrupting without any care for what was going on.
Old Boyfriend said he had a crush on me, and of course, I dismissed it.
This Kaylie girl had a choir concert, and being a good friend, I decided to go. Old Boyfriend had to work that night, so Interrupting Boy decided to drive me to the concert with his friend, Daryl.
I had more fun that night than I’d had in years. We bopped around our college town, laughed a lot, and when we got to the concert, he sat next to me.
He put his arm around me. And I got these INSANE butterflies.
The conversation that immediately began in my head went something like this:
“BRAIN. I HAVE A BOYFRIEND. Plenty of guys put their arms around me at church, at home, etc. I never get butterflies from those boys. Why is this one special, and why, if I’m so in love with my boyfriend, is this the most fun I’ve had since before we’d even met?”
This lead to a real problem. I began re-evaluating my relationship with Old Boyfriend. We started having life-altering conversations about things, like whether or not we wanted to have children, what line of work we’ll both go into, and where we’d want to live. And at this point, I think both of us realized things were going from bad to worse.
Interrupting Boy wasn’t in the picture at all during this time. He’d faded into the background, just a figure, but his very presence reminded me of something I didn’t have with Old Boyfriend; a sense of warm security, ease, and comfort. In the five minute song that Interrupting Boy had his arm around me, I felt more safe and content than I’d ever felt with Old Boyfriend, and that was a real source of frustration for me. Would I ever find someone where I could feel that way all the time?
So we’re back to me, trying to recoup from the five-year-long loss of friends, OB’s family that had become like my own family, and the life that I’d known since I was sixteen years old. It was less the loss of OB, and more the plan I had for my life, and all of those people I’d held dear for years that were now his.
I’d moved back home to try to figure things out. My Mother, wonderful woman that she is, tried to get me up and moving. She tried to get me out of the house, into a job, into a new school, into ANYTHING. She walked in on me one day, crying over my wedding dress (yeah, we were engaged before we broke up), and she sort of flipped out.
“Aubrey, THAT IS ENOUGH. I can’t see you DO this to yourself anymore.”
She had tried everything in her Pushy Mom Handbook to get me movin’. And it was all I could do to get drunk, cry, sleep, and repeat.
Lucky for me, I have this friend. This beautiful friend. This woman is almost solely responsible for my recovery. She let me talk. She let me cry. She stroked my hair, made me grilled cheese (made me eat in general…. I was’t really eating before she came along), gave me her teddy bear, and dragged me out of bed for a makeover at her salon. Her soul is one of the most warm, caring, and comforting souls I’ve ever met. She brought me back into the light.
We’d always called each other “BB”, which we’ve defined differently over the years…. “Bosom Buddy” from Anne of Green Gables may have been the original reason, or “Best Bud”…. Or who knows. She was a perfect friend.
(I love you, friend. I’m crying as I write this, because we both know that you are the reason I’m standing here.)
Soon, I was feeling better. I was starting to see more of myself. I was taking drives out in the country to get out of the house with my little sister. I was going to the park to play at midnight in single digit temps with another friend. I was seeing a counselor. I still held this sadness and fear inside me, but they weren’t for Old Boyfriend…. they were for my future.
BB was married to this fellow who was also incredibly supportive. I love him a lot, too. We’ll call him King. BB let me know that King’s birthday was coming up, and that she wanted to surprise him by having his brother and his two college besties up to surprise him.
One of these friends was Interrupting Boy.
The idea of seeing him again gave me what I like to call ‘the vapors’, to be pronounced ‘vaypahs’, like good southern ladies used to say.
He showed up, and it was butterfly city. There were sparks in the air. There was something palpable between us, and we’d barely spoken since the choir concert incident almost a year beforehand.
And yet, I was nervous. He wasn’t really giving me all that much to go on, even though when he said he was leaving town in two days, I flat out asked if he HAD to go, and he said, “You just want me to stay longer!”, to which I retorted, “Yeah, I do”. I was giving him all the queues he needed.
But all of that changed when BB came to tell me that she and IB had talked late into the night about me the night beforehand.
The butterflies. The vaypahs. The excited, 13-year-old girl screams that were coming from me. I couldn’t believe I was getting this wrapped up in this boy I barely knew.
That changed, too. The next evening we spent at BB and King’s apartment, and IB and I talked all night. And when I say all night, the sun was coming up, and we still couldn’t get enough of each other’s company. I wanted to know EVERYTHING about IB, to figure out why he was giving me the vaypahs, and why I felt so comfortable around him.
I don’t even feel bad saying this, even though most people would say that falling in love in a day is ridiculous… But I fell in love with him that night. I loved his teddy bear hugs, his warmth when he talked about his family, the pain he felt when he talked about hardships he went through, and his HONESTY. He didn’t hold anything back from me. He was an open book.
Oh, and I didn’t even know what a kiss WAS until I met him. I’d been kissing the same guy for 4 or so years before, and I thought that was the end-all, be-all of kisses. I kissed Interrupting Boy, and I swear…. it was like our lips were MADE for each other.
Immediately after our first kiss, in unison, we said “WHOA”. We’d both kissed people before, but we’d never felt THAT. All I knew was that I wanted that feeling I felt in that pew at Kaylie’s choir concert a year ago to last forever, and I wanted to see if it was a fluke, or would actually last.
The most important thing, though, is what people around me noticed. All of the sudden, they said it was like “The Old Me” was back. The person they knew in high school, before Old Boyfriend came along, had reappeared in full force. I was full of life, excited, happy, and joyful. I was joking around, and I wasn’t having to carefully evaluate how every statement that came out of my mouth affected Interrupting Boy; he loved me for who I was, and wasn’t trying to turn me into something else.
What commenced is what we fondly called “The Summer of Love”.
We traveled to Alabama, where his family lived, and met them. (I loved them very much, and still do.) We traveled to Bowling Green, where both of us initially met. We went to Florida to Disney World over the Fourth of July with BB and King, and had the time of our lives. And we fell deeper in love everyday.
We couldn’t stop talking. We had a need to know each other more, to talk honestly, and to attack the world’s problems together. We’d regularly stay up all night talking, just like the first night.
Oh, and those kisses. They didn’t get any less potent over time; each one still felt like the first one, with fireworks.
Interrupting Boy decided to take me on this fabulous date about four months later. Up in the mountains in Alabama, we took a bit of a picnic, fed the ducks, and I’d kicked off my shoes to play in the water. It was bliss. I was in nature, among the ducks and wildlife, and the love of my life was there to share it with me. He knew me better than anyone had ever known me, and we’d only been together for four months. I didn’t want the moment to end.
He came over to the edge of the water, and called me to him. I splashed over to him, laughed, and kissed him…. and he got down on one knee.
He asked me to be his wife.
The vaypahs. The butterflies. The tears of joy. That warm, comfortable, safe, and at ease feeling were still there, and they still are, to this day.
For the record, five years later, I’m still the luckiest woman I know. I have the best husband, the best marriage, and best life I could possibly have asked for, and while I don’t have babies (which I’d love), the love and happiness we share is sufficient for me. If I spend my life with Sweet Husband, I will always have someone to talk to, someone to give me the vaypahs (he still does), someone to kiss, and someone who makes me warm, comfortable, and at ease.
Oh, and probably more important now than ever before? Someone who makes me laugh.