Tag Archives: romance

Love Story, Part III: Paper Hearts

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Our senior year of high school, around the time I met The Guitarist, my future husband met a girl on a school trip. She was smart and drop-dead gorgeous, and obviously into him. Things got serious quickly.

When The Guitarist broke my heart, my old friend offered me comfort. Only as a friend, of course, since he had a serious relationship with someone else at the time. “I never understood why you were with that guy anyway, he wasn’t good enough for you,” he told me. I mourned and waited and hoped for about a month, and then I went on the re-bound. I dated lots of boys casually, had a lot of fun but broke a heart or two in the process. When I had been back on the dating scene for a few months, my old friend’s girlfriend broke his heart. And I was there for him, just like he’d been there for me. We started hanging out more, talking more, even went on a few dates.

A couple of months after we started dating, I left for an internship across the country. The night before I left, I took a risk and told him that I might be falling for him. It was dark. He froze. My heart pounded for what felt like an eternity. Just when I was sure I’d made a terrible mistake, he drew me close and kissed me tenderly. “I think I am, too,” he whispered. Joy and relief washed over me as we embraced in the moonlight. I still had several suitors at that time, but I realized that night that I only wanted him.

When I left, we made no promises, but both secretly hoped that maybe when I came home we could begin a real relationship. We exchanged letters, postcards, and the occasional long-distance call. He sent me a couple of gifts, I sent him photos of my adventures. He made it clear in some of his early letters that there was no one else. I felt hesitant to trust someone new with my heart so soon, but oh, how I hoped.

Every time a letter came with that familiar handwriting on the front, my heart skipped a beat. I could hardly wait to find somewhere private and quiet to drink in every word. Those letters nourished our timid hearts, both healing, hoping, reaching. He won my heart not with slick manipulation, but with slow, honest sharing of himself.

When I came home, he met me at the airport with flowers, and soon we became inseparable. We went for long walks hand in hand, hiked mountain trails, had romantic picnics at the park, and generally made people sick with our sweetness. If happy ever after does exist, this was it.

In the Fall, we attended the same college. We studied together and attended free events on campus. We even took some classes together. We roasted marshmallows over back-yard campfires, and I further cemented my place in his heart with my signature hot chocolate and baked goods. Our relationship thrived, and life was good. We got involved in a local church together and talked about theology regularly, sharing our views and our questions. We didn’t agree on everything, but we respected and appreciated each other’s ideas and even won each other over occasionally with civil discourse.

As Fall gave way to Winter, I accepted my second internship. This one would take me to a far-off land filled with unknowns. I would live with the locals this time, potentially without phone or postal access for the duration of the assignment. It was a lot to ask of a still-new relationship, but we were young and believed in the power of our love. At the airport, we kissed and said our tearful goodbyes, and I promised to write if I could. We didn’t know what the following weeks might hold, for me, for us, but as I boarded the plane, I left behind a strong, courageous young man of sound character. This time, it went without saying, we each would wait for the other.

Love Story, Part II: My Detour

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The guitarist and I talked and flirted the evening away. I could not believe he liked me! At the end of the night, I gave him my number. I grinned the whole way home. We spoke on the phone a couple of times that week, and then I totaled my car. That is a story in and of itself that I will save for later, what you need to know for this story is that I suffered a Grade III concussion. Because the concussion was so severe, I missed several weeks of school. I couldn’t remember anything from the morning of the accident until I woke up after, and I could not retain any new information. The morning after the accident, the guitarist called to check on me. Several of our classmates had driven by the wreckage on the way to school, so word spread quickly. He asked if I’d like to see a movie when I felt up to it, and I said yes. I joke that I only agreed to go out with him because I wasn’t thinking clearly, between the head injury and the teenage hormones. There’s probably more truth to that than I’d like to believe.

This boy knew how to play the game. He told me what I wanted to hear in dulcet tones, dripping with honey, and I lapped up every word. He even started going to church with me, and we prayed and read the Bible together. We moved fast and did some things I’m not proud of, and quickly fell into puppy-love. We talked about our futures and made the starry-eyed plans that young lovers make. Then, at the Prom, he requested Our Song. While we slow-danced, pressed too close together, he slipped a tiny ring onto my finger. We had been dating for a whopping five months and had only known each other for three weeks before that. Yes, we were total idiots.

Shortly before graduation, he developed a serious medical condition and couldn’t walk. For weeks into the summer, I cared for him all day so his parents wouldn’t have to take time off work. At first it was OK, but things started to change. He began to withdraw. When he started to recover, he still let me help him some, but we didn’t talk. I was so confused. And then the hammer fell. He broke it off. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t breathe. How did this happen? What did I do wrong? Why would he do this? A few days later, he called and asked me to come over. He apologized, and we got back together, but something was different. We went back and forth, on again, off again, for months. And then it was over.

Love Story, Part I: Sittin’ In A Tree…

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I thought in honor of Valentine’s day, you might like to hear my love story. But take heed, ye faint of heart, this is no fairy tale or shiny Hollywood blockbuster. You’ll find no saucy scenes to get you hot under the collar, either. I present you with a REAL love story, one that ends with “To Be Continued…” not “And They Lived Happily Ever After;” in which love truly conquers all, sometimes in unexpected ways. Oops, I’ve gone and spoiled the ending for you. Oh well.

My husband and I have known each other literally all our lives. We became childhood sweet hearts, holding hands in the sandbox and squabbling over silly things as children do. Everybody smiled at our sweet innocence and said things like “Wouldn’t it be something if they grew up and got married.” Our parents got along well, as did our siblings. Seemed like a tiny match made in Heaven, right from the start. Feel free to gag at the sugary sweetness because it ends here.

Tragically, we attended different elementary schools and slowly grew apart. THE END. Just kidding! When I transferred schools in the seventh grade, this handsome guy shared several of my classes. His apparent sadness intrigued me. I wondered what made him so sad. I felt like I knew him from somewhere, I just couldn’t place him. As a painfully shy new kid just trying to blend in, I pondered over him from afar while trying to remember where our paths first crossed. One day, while looking through some old photo albums, one picture grabbed my attention. My jaw dropped. The mystery man (of course, in the seventh grade you see yourself as grown)! I’d like to say the memories came flooding back, but instead I had to go ask my mom about my old friend. He doesn’t really remember our childhood romance, and unfortunately I only have a couple of hazy memories tucked away. But we do have some old photographs, and naturally our parents have an abundance of cute stories they happily share.

I kept this news to myself for a while, trying to muster up the courage to approach him. One day, we ended up sitting next to each other in History class. Before the bell rang to bring the classroom to order, I smiled at him and said “Hi, I’m Grace.” “I know who you are,” he said, sadly staring at his desk, doodling absentmindedly. “Oh…” *awkward silence* And then the bell rang, and class began.

That was not the response I expected. I sat through History confused and distracted. I began to make some friends at my new school, and occasionally spoke to my old friend, when I could overcome my immense shyness. He always responded with short, impersonal dead-ends and never made eye contact. I couldn’t take it personally, he acted like that with everyone. I felt drawn to him because he openly expressed the cold numbness I tried to hide. I thought maybe we could help each other in some way, or at least understand each other. I longed for someone to know the pain inside me, to understand and validate me.

As the school year unfolded, his dark cloud seemed to shrink bit by bit, until Spring when I finally heard him laugh. He started to use real sentences when I spoke to him, make eye contact and oh, that smile. It made my heart flutter. But he didn’t seem attracted to me, or really anyone, just yet. I “dated” a couple of boys in middle school, to the extent that my parents allowed. The first one tricked me into thinking he genuinely liked me so he could humiliate me and gain status with his friends, leaving my already fragile self esteem shattered. The second was a high school boy I met at a party. My parents did not approve, which naturally made the romance even more appealing. But of course it ended quickly and tearfully, as that sort of thing typically does.

In high school, my old chum began to find himself and we started building a real friendship. I felt a strong physical attraction to him, but he could be kind of a jerk sometimes, so I “friend-zoned” him. Although his depression had improved over the years, he still suffered such low self-esteem he just couldn’t believe any girl would really want to date him. So he didn’t get into the dating scene, even though plenty of girls liked him and would have said yes if he’d just asked.

I didn’t date much in high school, either. I did meet a boy the summer between Sophomore and Junior year, who I dated for a few weeks. He gave me my first kiss, but then he pushed for more so I broke it off. Then Senior year, I went to a party with a live band. They played ridiculously well for a group of high schoolers. The guitarist in particular caught my eye. He could play like the wind; the melodies and harmonies virtually flew off the strings. He owned the stage, exuding confidence and that “it” factor you always hear about. I couldn’t tear myself away. When the band took a break, I introduced myself, and we hit it off.