Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 31: Happy Endings

Tonight's entry? One of those "but that's another story" stories, with a happy ending.

It has been nearly 8 years since I last saw him. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I stood to leave church early. I was visiting a special service for a friend who was about to leave on a mission, and he was there, too. When I got up to leave, he grabbed my hand and looked up at me. "Are you leaving? Are we going to talk?" he plead. "No. I'm leaving." I whispered, withdrawing my hand and turning away. That was the last time I saw him.

That may not sound like it, but it was one of the happiest endings any love story ever had.

It started off innocently. He was not prince charming, but I was no princess. It was obvious that he liked me, and I was flattered by his attention. So we met for our first date. He was open and physically affectionate. He opened the car door. He held my hand, and hung on my every word. We spent the rest of the summer driving in the canyon and going to concerts in the park. I was going to school for my junior year of college, and he was going to a university an hour north. We would date on weekend, staying at either his parent's house or my parent's house. I was planning to go on a study abroad in January, and wasn't planning on a lifetime. But then... I will never know if I fell in love with the person he was, or simply fell in love with the person that was in love with me. I think it's hard to tell the difference.

He proposed on an October night. I remember, most clearly, that when he asked me... I felt nothing. Nothing at all. I waited to feel some thrill of excitement, or surge of affection. But I was a blank canvas. He had said all the right words, and I said yes.

Somehow, in the time between that yes and the months that followed, something that had been good, turned sour. I cannot judge him. I hope he will never judge me. There was so much that went wrong, and--at the time--so hard to tell what was a red flag and what was cold feet.

It was a December night, as we talked on the phone, that I asked him if he even loved me. His reply was, "If I ever did, I don't remember now." He continued by saying, "But it's okay. We can still get married. Once you get married, the love goes away anyway." I believe I actually felt the space between heartbeats when he said that. The man that I had loved was gone, just as much as I was lost to him. It was beyond both of us.

So, how is this a love story with a happy ending? Well, for one thing, I learned something that has proved precious to me in the years since: be true to yourself. In the months afterward, I was amazed to piece together how many lies I'd told my own heart. How absurdly anxious I'd been to please everyone but my best self. Secondly, I learned that getting too physically involved too soon will utterly poison a relationship. At least, it did ours. Finally, it is a happy ending because it left me open to all the possibilities and the life ahead of me that I truly wanted to live. Within months of saying goodbye to that man, I was living in Switzerland--sharing my heart with the people I met there. I was living the life of my dreams. It also bought me something nothing else could: time. The man that was my matching heart--that I would one day fall in love with and marry, needed to do some learning and growing of his own. All of this was getting both he and I to just the right point in time.

So, wherever that man may be tonight, I hope he is happy. I hope he found his own true love. I hope he learned even half of what I did about how the happiest ending may not end with happily ever after.


RaT Babies said...

*Sigh* But you sweet lady, YOU lived happily ever after! :)

Bryce said...

Wonderful, Sis Riding! It really makes me step back and ponder and realize that there is someone out there, near or far, that is being prepared for me (for when that time comes, oh so long from now, of course). And I know through each experience I have now in my youth, I too am being prepared for them. :)

Cristina said...

I could have written this one... Almost to the smallest details. Mine had the same happy ending :-) Lovely to read something about you.