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A Personal Account of Love From a Not-So-Experienced Lover
Here’s the thing about love: it’s easier when you’re two. Or one. Or ten. Perhaps, for some, even sixty. Basically any age besides the one that allows your heart to hesitate before you give it to someone. The age when people start poisoning your mind with definitions, standards, and time frames, and you believe them. I wish I could tell you that my heart is still unguarded, but my Crayola, boy-band-loving days are over. Mine has been broken, and now there’s a sturdy wall where it used to be wide open. Yes, I too have fallen victim to the confusing mind games of love. And yes, I too may now be one of the ones turning something so sweet and pure unintentionally sour. I’m sorry. But I don’t understand. I don’t understand why feelings have to be so confusing and deep. Why something so innocent and natural when you’re young, becomes something analyzed and questioned as you grow? I’ve thought long and hard and this is the only thing I can come up with: it hurts. Bad. When someone takes your heart and runs with it, it’s a pain unlike any other. And that’s why I’m writing this to you: a personal account of love from a not so experienced lover.
You were perfect and dangerous. Leaving for college in a few months, I knew the chances of a college/high school relationship lasting was slim to none. This terrified me and didn’t stop me. It was June and you were full of promise and freedom, the end of six am mornings in a cold school and 12 am nights doing math homework finally in reach. My blonde haired-blue eyed best friend had fallen hard for your track star heart breaker best friend, and we were unintentionally and unavoidably caught in the middle. She told me you liked me. I told her no you didn’t.
Do you remember the first time I texted you?
I was scared.
Of what, I couldn’t tell you. But the twenty minutes you took to respond were pure torture. Finally, you did. You always did. Every single time. Never once falling asleep or letting a day go by without at least a goodnight. You had a perfect track record, and I loved the consistency. For some reason you wanted me, and I’m still not completely sure why.
It was July 26th, darling, remember? You had me thinking we had something and proved me right when you spent the night holding me. We watched The Hangover and I laughed when you did, but found it impossible to pay attention to anything other than the way your arms felt wrapped tight around me. I told you I liked the movie. You told me you knew I would. The night air was perfect and refreshing as you grabbed my hand for a walk, leading me to a trampoline in your neighbor’s backyard. We laughed and jumped for all of two minutes before collapsing, allowing our bodies to be fully supported by the springy black surface. The stars were bright and full of promise. I picked one to wish on and asked you to play a game with me.
“The name of the game is Truth,” I challenged you. “If you lie to me, you lose.”
And so it went. Question, answer, switch, repeat. I asked you anything and you answered. Until suddenly you didn’t. You hesitated when I reminded you it was your turn and I saw something change in your chocolate brown eyes. My stomach twisted as I sat waiting, patiently impatient. With a deep breath you jumped, just like I’d hoped you would.
“How would you feel if I kissed you right now?”
Your voice was steady but nervous. I grinned, taking a second to study your face before answering. Your eyes were pleading, begging me to answer, and the idea that you thought I’d say no was somewhat humorous to me.
“I think I’d be okay with that,” I laughed.
You leaned in quickly, giving me no time to pull back or chicken out. Your kiss was fast and gentle and flawless. When you pulled back I smiled, “Yay, finally,” I whispered, scooting closer, wrapping my arms loosely around your neck. I felt my face immediately burning a deep red as I scolded myself for saying something so stupid. You just laughed, pulling me closer and making all traces of embarrassment disappear. I told you I wanted to know what we were. You told me it was up to me. We were official.
It was September 5th, darling, remember? School came no matter how much I pretended it wouldn’t. My life suddenly re-flooded with books and homework and college applications. And you. It was a three day weekend and you were taking me to a bonfire full of people I didn’t talk to. Usually the awkward stares of somewhat acquaintances would have bothered me, but your arm was around my waist; a continual reminder that you were right where you wanted to be. It was only a half hour before you flashed me my favorite smile, squeezing my hand as you led me away from the s’mores, sparks, and laughter. As we walked towards your silver SUV, you urgently slipped something jagged and metal in my hand before running to the passenger side of the car. Your keys. As much as I appreciated this gesture of trust, I was appalled. You laughed at my horrified reaction but what you didn’t know is that it wasn’t an act. My knuckles turned white from the force of my hands gripping the steering wheel as if my life depended on it. Although 100 percent of my attention was focused on not crashing the multi-ton vehicle we were in, it was impossible not to laugh at your amused reaction as you carefully studied every inch of my face. The way you looked at me gave me chills, like I was some kind of prize that only you got to keep.
We made it back to your house in one piece and I swore up and down I would never drive your car again. Rolling your eyes and taking my hand, you led me first up the concrete stairs to your house, and then the carpeted ones that led to your movie theater converted attic. As if you hadn’t freaked me out enough for one night, you popped open the case containing Saw III and slid it in the DVD player. I pretended like I cared. Really, I was just glad we were alone. I did my best to distract you from the gory, blood squirting scenes of the movie and succeeded. Your eyes almost burned when you stared at me and I felt the smoldering in my chest. Taking a deep breath, I asked you what I’d been wondering for some time.
“Have you ever been in love,” I whispered curiously.
I took you off guard and you paused, thinking carefully before answering.
“No. I don’t think so,” you decided.
“Are you kidding me?! Of all the girls you dated…?”
“I mean, I think I thought I loved them. But I don’t think I really did. Why, do you love me?”
I sucked in air, analyzing the past month and the way I felt every time you touched me, held me, kissed me, or called me. Then I lied.
I told you I think love takes time. You told me you loved me.
And so the summer continued, perfect and easy. You were there beside me the entire time and I thanked God every night for giving me you. Your letters and early morning text messages made me feel infinite and beautiful. But no matter how hard I prayed, the end of the month came, taking you with it. Your life continued to progress just like I hoped it wouldn’t and knew it would. You moved into your college bachelor pad, quickly adjusting to your new freedom, and I stayed here living the life I’ve been accustomed to for years. Suddenly it was weeks before I’d see you, and even though your text messages appeared regularly on my phone, I felt you slipping away.
It was October 10th, darling, remember? The Cincinnati city lights were shining as bright as ever as you held my shaking body in your arms and broke my heart. You wiped away my tears for an hour as we sat saying meaningless words that wouldn’t change your mind and couldn’t take us back to the past. I told you to tell me what you wanted. You told me you didn’t know what that was. It was over.
I thought about doing it myself. On the nights when the smiley faces disappeared from your text messages and my “I miss you’s” were neglected. But I couldn’t, and I didn’t. Because I wanted you to care. I wanted you to care like I cared. I wanted you to believe in us. And I wanted to believe you did. You didn’t.
You asked me if I regretted it and I told you no. I wasn’t lying. Because even if now my eyes are crying the blood from my broken heart, you were something that no one can take away: a perfect summer. You were raspberry lemonade and scavenger hunts and picnics by the lake. You were arcade hoops, mix cds, early morning sunrises and chocolate chip pancakes. You were midnight phone conversations on cool summer nights while watching shooting stars. You were Sudoku puzzles, butterfly kisses, and bear-filled-honey. You were the innocence of a first kiss. You were everything. Any maybe, just maybe, you were love. But mostly, you were mine.
Love always xoxo,