A glass of wine convinced me to find the loves of my past, which is something I’ve never done. Without much thought, I held my breath and plunged my head beneath the watery surface of the past.
We stopped speaking to each other years ago. I’ll always wish our last exchange was mended, but he made it clear he did not want to maintain any semblance of friendship.
We dated for a year or so. As much as I was in love with him, perhaps in the deep recesses of my mind, I knew we were very different people who wanted very different things; married life would not have suited us.
I was living a few hours away when he called. We met up for dinner once a year to catch up, as we truly stayed friends after our romance ended. His work was having an event nearby and he wanted to know if he could crash at my apartment overnight. As a third shift worker, it was perfect: he had the apartment to himself all night while I was at work.
He came over and I got him set up on the couch. His stout athletic body had not changed from high school. He was a strong Christian, single, and I trusted him explicitly. It was comforting to enjoy his presence again. When I returned home after work, he had already folded all the blankets, showered, and eaten. He didn’t have to leave for another couple of hours, so we spent the morning chatting. With all my relationship baggage, here he was, shining the light of Christ on my world. His grounded stance and daily walks with the Lord dazzled me. He reminded me there were good men out there, as I kept forgetting.
And then, we kissed.
It was only kissing. Clothes stayed on, hands didn’t stray, and it was like I was in high school again.
And then he had to leave for his work event.
I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day. I knew it was just a kiss and there was nothing more to it. The beauty of him reminding me that all was not lost had a lasting effect on me. I can’t describe how much his visit soothed my aching spirit.
I got an email from him.
It was long. Very long. Oh no, I thought, thinking he wanted to restart our romantic bond.
But, as usual, I was wrong.
The entire letter consisted of him begging for my forgiveness. He felt that kissing me objectified me, as we kissed without context. He knew things could have gone much further than they did (I would never have let that happen, he was still a virgin) and that frightened him. I felt so deflated, that a kiss flung him into such a state. We kissed throughout high school, it wasn’t like this was new territory for us. I quickly typed out my reply, assuring him he had the opposite effect on me. I did not feel objectified in any way; I thoroughly enjoyed our kiss and that I would never let my passions – or his – allow us to do something we would regret. I emphasized how much his visit encouraged me. I sent his letter and my response to my friend, who was in seminary at the time, to get her take on them and she agreed he was overreacting.
And that was it. My subsequent emails were unanswered and we haven’t spoken since.
Nearly two decades have passed.
He wasn’t hard to find. He was the type that would still be in the same rural town, just like his ancestors. Interstates made him uncomfortable, as he preferred roads without lines.
Surprisingly, he had a social media page. He didn’t post often, but I did find pictures of his family. He has six kids – the oldest looks like they are in middle school, the youngest is an infant – and he lives in the middle of nowhere. Of course, I would expect nothing less. I would not be a bit surprised to find if he was a fundamentalist homeschooling Christian, but I couldn’t deduce that from what I found. His wife bears a striking resemblance to his mother, which I found a bit odd, but her homespun appearance still showed off her beauty. He aged quickly with a receding hairline and jowls. He looks much older than I do, even though I am older than him. He’s a large round man now, no longer the fit guy I remember. He’s not nearly as attractive as he was back in the day. His eyes still reflect the light and love of Christ and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an excellent husband, father, and pillar of his church.
I have this sinking feeling he’d avoid me if we ran into each other again.
I’d still want to hear his story, if he was willing.