January 8, 2008
By Lauren Byrd, Clarkston, MI

Do you believe in love at first sight? That can't eat, can't sleep, and reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of love? I never did until I met Rob Finly. It was about three years ago. School was almost out for summer. My friend Haley invited me to come over on a Friday for her birthday party. I did not have much going on so I went. I lounged by myself for a little while and just watched girls gossip about boys as they pointed out which ones they liked or disliked. I didn’t know too many of them so I felt a little out of place. I had never met Rob before, but knew of him. He was a cute freckled face boy who was extremely skinny for his age and he was shorter than most guys. “Hi. I don’t think we have really met before but, I am Rob,” he said as he scooted his way towards me.

“Yeah, I know who you are. I am Vanessa. It is nice to meet you!” I smiled while showing off my pearly whites. He smiled back and my heart melted. We began talking and laughing. Gosh, he was so funny. It was not like that dry sense of humor people are forced to laugh at, it was hardcore laughter. It feels good to be myself and not be judged for it I thought. I was actually comfortable around him.
“So, are you dating someone at the party or are you just friends with Haley?” I questioned hoping he would say he was single.
“I am actually single. I just got out of a long relationship with that girl over there. She dumped me bad and I am finally starting to realize I am better off without her. I mean look, she is sitting over there making out with that red-headed stranger. I bet she doesn’t even know him!”
“Oh, that sucks. You are probably too good for her anyway,” I mumbled under my breath. An awkward pause happened for like two seconds before he said
“How about you? Are you dating anyone or are you alone like me?” I laughed at him and he laughed back.
“I am not alone! But I am single. I also just got out of a long relationship. It is time to have fun, you know?”
“Yeah, I am over it too and I think it’s good you are having fun. We should have fun together. Maybe we can hang out sometime? Can I have your email or phone number?”
I gave him my email and said “Yeah, I would like that.” We continued talking. We found out we had a lot more in common than just being sophomores. He was one of those people who I had never seen before but knew of and when we finally met, I felt like I had known him forever. There was just something about him that made me feel something I had never felt before. My body began to tingle. I have never been able to act myself around a guy before. I was mesmerized. I was thinking about the relationship I had recently gotten out of and how I thought I was in love. This feeling though, the one I have felt since we began talking, it is indescribable compared to that. I was appalled by Rob and I knew he felt the same way or else, there wouldn’t be this ongoing conversation. Of course though, reality hit. My few seconds of infatuation ended as my phone rang. It was my dad telling me he was here to pick me up. I waved goodbye to Rob and instead of waving back, he came over to me. I left the night with a hug and an innocent peck on the cheek.

A few days went by and I sort of gave up on those tingles since Rob and I had not talked since the party. That was until I got home from school that day. There was an email from him.

Hey Vanessa,

What’s up? This is Rob. I am sorry we have not talked since the party. I have been real busy with soccer. My coach had some scouts looking at me. Don’t think I wasn’t thinking about you though! I really wanted to let you know how much fun I had with you the other night. This might sound weird but I cannot stop thinking about you and your beautiful blue eyes. We have so much in common and I would really love to get to know you better. Please email me back or something...
The next days at school, I saw Rob a ton! Since I had never really talked to him before, I never noticed how often our paths crossed. We saw each other at our lockers, at lunch, and even at the end of the day! Too bad we met too late in the year. School is out in two weeks! With all of the talking and hanging out happening, we both knew inside this feeling was more than just a friendly one.
Soon enough, summer came and was speeding by. Rob and I hung out almost everyday. He had a huge blue pool with bright white tube lights around the side and a diving board. Swimming was the most fun with all of our friends but of course, we loved to spend time alone too. We wanted things to go farther but remained friends throughout most of the summer. Then, in the end of August, he asked me. He took me on a walk in his backyard and then stopped me behind the big tree. He gazed into my eyes and said “Vanessa, I have known since the day I met you, there was something between us we couldn’t hide. I am sorry it has taken me this long to ask you but, will you be my girlfriend?” I didn’t even have to answer. I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him so passionately that it belongs in a box to be forever cherished.
In that moment, something inside of me changed. I thought to myself, is this really what love feels like? I never wanted the night to end. It’s unbelievable to know that someone feels the same way about you as you do for them. I felt like the whole world faded and there was nothing besides the two of us. We were young and in love, and we spent the rest of summer together laughing, cuddling, kissing, but most of all, falling in love for the first time.
For once in my life, something actually felt right. Rob made me feel beautiful. I was always trying to astonish him with looks and little gifts, but he said what is on the inside matters most. I still worked out everyday and became very muscular with a 4-pack of abs, toned legs, calves, and a size 4 pant. I had lost 10 pounds since we had met but it was healthy. I weighed 135lbs for a 5’5 girl. I cut my hair to my shoulders and I highlighted my blond hair with skinny brown highlights. I also began to straighten my hair. This may seem like a huge change but believe me, it was for the better. Rob didn’t care if I wore make-up or not. He didn’t even care whether or not I had worked out that day. No matter what he said though, I still tried to be perfect for him.
A year rolled around and Rob and I still were in the “honeymoon” stage. We still spent almost everyday together and we even had science class together. After this year though, summer came and things set off downhill. Rob became overly busy. There were no more of those late nights just staying up talking or making out. There were no more of those long goodbyes that lasted at least a half an hour. There were no more of those unforgettable nights and most of all, there were no more of those everyday tingles. Things in me suddenly started to change. I put more make-up on everyday; I stopped eating, and I stopped working out. It seemed like the more I got upset, the less he cared. That is when the stupid pity fights began about pointless drama that doesn’t matter. For the past two months, I felt all that was coming out of my mouth was “Rob, you have ditched me three times the past week. I called you twice last night because you said we were still on and then you don’t call me back. What the heck!?” I tried talking to him but only got frustrated when he never had anything to say back except I am sorry. He was not listening anymore so, I sat my mom down and talked to her about it.
“Mom, I feel all alone. I don’t know what to do. He doesn’t care anymore. Rob has been so distant lately that I am freaking out. He has been ditching me all the time. After a year and a half, I think I deserve more from what I have been giving,” I bawled to her.
“Vanessa, Rob is changing. He needs to go off and do his own thing without you next to him for everything in his life. Just talk to him about how you feel. He will understand and if anything happens, it is his loss...” My mom said as she stood up and started walking into the kitchen. I sat there and thought to myself for a while after she had gone back to the kitchen. I never intended on hurting Rob, I just wanted to be the best girlfriend but I guess I was smothering him a bit.
Senior year started and Rob and I didn’t even act like we were together. He was catching up with his guys and was busy with soccer. I found myself mingling with my best friend Natalie. Natalie and I sort of lost touch over the summer too. Every time I was down in the dumps though, she was there for me. Natalie and I talked for a few days and I finally got the courage to talk to Rob. He seemed clueless and he had this careless look on his face. “You really don’t care anymore, do you” I cried. When he didn’t respond, I felt like I had already lost him…but that was before he started crying. His blue eyes glared into mine as his tears glided down his face. My heart stung at that moment as he took my hand and kissed each one of my chubby knuckles. Although his tears were still pouring out, he managed a graceful smile that made my heart melt all over again, like that first night.
“Vanessa, I am so sorry for hurting you. I really had no idea how you felt. I promise to never hurt you again. Please forgive me?”
“How many times have I heard that one? I feel all alone Rob. You ditch me constantly and you have changed since we met.” I cried as his hands slid away my tears.
“Vaness-” Rob began to say.
“No Rob, I am not going to take being ditched and lied to anymore. We have been together almost two years. TWO YEARS! I have never felt this way about anyone and right now, I don’t even know what I am feeling. My heart and my mind are telling me two different things. What should I do because I am not going to sit here and wait for you anymore?” I interrupted him as I crossed my arms around my chest. Rob had nothing left to say. His eyes look stunned. I didn’t feel guilty for what I had just lectured. I did not want to take back any of those words because the sad, lost, puppy dog look on his face showed he cared and really, that is all I wanted. He put his head in his hands and bawled. All I could hear was the sniffling of his pointy-little nose. He looked up at me and squeezed my hand tightly. His whole body was shaking.
“I’m sorry, I am so sorry Vanessa. What can I do to make things up to you? Please, I will do anything to make sure you are happy. I don’t want to lose you over this.” For some reason, my heart was just cutting off his words. I glared at him with my fiery eyes. We sat in silence for what felt like forever. During that silence, I thought back to some of those unforgettable nights when we used to cry because we were happy and not sad. It was hard looking him into the eye and telling him how I feel because I had said the same things so many times before. It was like all of my words were going in one ear and out the other. I love you. Those three words used to have my life in them but now, I didn’t even know where I stood in his life. So how could I really believe that he still loves me the same? I couldn’t bear to think about it anymore.
“Rob, I really have nothing left to say to you. This pain in my heart is getting old and I really cannot explain to you anymore how I feel because things will get better for like a day and then it will go back to you ditching me,” I proclaimed.
“Vanessa, all I hear is doubt coming from your mouth. We will get through this. You know how much I love you.” His tears fell to the ground as he scooted closer to me. He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed the air out of me. He didn’t let go for five minutes. “Please give me one last chance to prove that I want to spend all my time with you,” he begged.
“I am not going to believe anything until it happens. Actions speak louder than words Rob. Take that into consideration,” I said with a sarcastic tone.
The next few weeks were actually different. We hung out a ton more and when we were not together; we were talking via phone or email. I was beginning to be happy again. I knew he wouldn’t let me down. Christmas came too fast but we were off for break. Rob had been promising me for the past two weeks that he would attend my family’s party. The day of the party, I woke up to his email:
“Morning baby, I am so sore from soccer. I am so sorry about this but I do not think I can make it tonight. I am so tired and I know you wouldn’t want me to just lie around the whole time. If there is anyway you can not go to the party and come hang out with me, I would love that. You know I want to spend time with you. Email me back about what is going on! I love you, Vanessa. PS. I have some exciting news for you!”
For once, I didn’t feel betrayed. I talked to my parents and they actually let me hang out with Rob instead of attending the party. I sprinted to my room and got ready really fast. I was excited because instead of ditching me altogether, he asked me to hang out with him and not his friends. I left my house at around six and when I got there, he opened the red door and gave me the biggest hug and kiss. Something felt strange and then I just remembered he had something to tell me. We sat on the couch and started to watch “The Santa Clause” on his big 46” plasma.
“So, what did you need to tell me?” I asked with a worried expression.
“I got a scholarship for soccer today! The coach called me and it is to a D1 school. I am staying here so we will still be able to see each other a lot,” he cried with joy.
“OH MY GOSH! That is awesome Rob. I am so proud of you!” I hugged him like I had never done before. I was so proud of him. In that moment, I forgot about everything that we had been fighting about and what was really important in life. This was a dream of his and he was not even that excited about the scholarship; he was more excited about not being too far away from me. I felt guilty inside as a weird pain entangled into my stomach and created a huge knot. I thought to myself about how much he has changed in the past two years, but then I started thinking about whether or not I have changed and the answer is yes. I was so wrapped within him that I forgot who I was without him. It all started to click in. I don’t need Rob for everything I do in my life. I have to experience things without him and learn to grow up too. We didn’t have to spend every waking second with each other in order to still be in love. That is exactly what he was doing. He was never trying to hurt me; I just did not comprehend the change. Sacrifices have to be made and I finally understand that. I wanted to apologize to him, tell him how I was acting like a control freak and how I never meant things to get as bad as they did. I thought to myself about how growing up is hard to do and changes will happen. In order to move forward though, those changes and hard times must be dealt with. I couldn’t run away from my problems anymore and I definitely could not explode them into a huge ordeal when they really are not. I finally accepted the changes in Rob, and in me, because let’s face it, love changes the way people feel and the way people act. He was really just being himself and I guess it took me two years to realize that.
“Rob, I am so sorry for the way I have been acting lately. I never meant to be the protective girlfriend. I hope you can forgive me,” I said with puppy dog eyes.
“I understand Vanessa. I accept your apology and I understand where you have been coming from. Cheer up okay? Everything is perfect. We have our whole lives to grow and change, but with each other. So SMILE!” he said as he showed off his amazing smile with those pearly whites. He picked me up and held me as we spun in circles. His eyes were steady looking into deep mine as he kissed my lips. My tears began drip down my face. He let me down and kissed the top of my eyes. His large wrinkly hands wiped away my tears. I formed a graceful smile because I knew that those were happy tears.
Rob and I decided we shouldn’t spend all our time being angry with each other. Besides, we only have a few more months until we graduate, why waste them being unhappy?

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