Coincidentally, he is one in the same.
Not one to kiss and tell, for this discussion his name will be John. John Doe.
It was a typical midwestern autumn evening the first time I saw him. He was a few years older than me. I watched him for several days during rehearsal for a play. It wasn’t until someone yelled, “John!” from across the room, and he appeared with an annoyed, “What?” did I know his name. I found his surname printed in the program. It was clearly attraction at first sight.
John was, by most standards, not good looking. He was a conglomeration of recessive traits, pale acned skin, with a tall lanky frame, and crystal blue eyes.
By the by, we eventually were assigned to work together on a behind the scenes project and we hit it off pretty well. We flirted incessantly all through the cast party until one of the other actors made a comment. We started talking in the halls before classes began in the morning; he always managed to sneak up behind me and slam my locker shut. We also stuck around after classes to chat. He wrote me a long, sweet lovey note in study hall which I still have in a box somewhere in my parents’ house.
After about a month of intrigue, we finally decided we were a couple. “Meet me backstage,” he said after school one day. I did.
Up in the storage lofts was a couch that fell out of the 1970’s amid other long forgotten props. We hung out up there talking, which eventually lead to kissing. And more kissing. And lots more kissing after that. I was his first kiss and he was mine. Technique wise, it was beyond terrible, neither of us had any idea of the mechanics; however it was one of the most beautiful memories I have. That secret moment was a world of our own. Oh, to be young and unrehearsed again!
We met up there several times after to make out – that’s as far as it went. Our relationship started to get weird at the 2 week mark. John was struggling with it; he came from a divorced family, school was difficult, and I could feel him pulling away. He broke up with me on the stage, with the fire curtain down. I was upset, but waited till I was safe in my room to cry about it. I always figured we’d get back together, but he was firm about that not happening. Still, I had hoped.
Years later, we eventually kindled a friendship over tennis and the occasional emails. Our respective colleges were nearby and one night I stayed over at his place – we spooned, no kissing – after we saw a play together.
John became that cool guy friend who didn’t mind cuddling while watching movies. I began to seriously date my college sweetheart and he fell hard and fast for a younger friend of mine. He dated my friend for the better part of a year and lost his virginity in the process. She dumped him for the “I need to find myself without you” excuse and there were rumors she cheated on him. I never substantiated those rumors. I still want to deck her for the way she carelessly tossed him aside.
A very broken and depressed John spent the night bawling at my college apartment, trying to make sense of the devastation she had wrought in his life. I watched him progress through all the stages of grief in the following weeks.
I got dumped by my serious boyfriend around the same time, with the same circumstances. We became each other’s comfort, which morphed into a “friends with benefits” relationship that went on and off for the next few years. He made it quite clear we would never become more than friends and balked whenever I mentioned otherwise.
The whole thing ended without fanfare. He kissed me good-bye, full on the mouth, as he did so many years ago backstage. I had made the decision to move 3 states away in effort to re-start my life. I met my husband soon thereafter.
Over the years, we’ve lost touch. I sometimes wonder about John. What are his triumphs and struggles – his career, his life – as he’s nearly 40 now. Our paths may just cross again, if there is a rip in the time-space continuum.