A Relationship (Or Something Like It)
By the age of 21 I had several unrequited crushes. I had been on a few one and done casual dates. I even had a boyfriend for a couple of months during my freshman year of college. None of these boys/men ever touched my heart. Something was always missing. There was no attraction, no chemistry. This was the 1990s so the lingo wasn’t there but if it was today, I would have wondered if I were asexual.
After my last unrequited crush, when I realized he was in love with one of my best friends, I decided I needed a change. I decided not to work as a teacher’s assistant at a preschool for the summer but accepted a job at a family friend’s specialty shoe store.
He was 34, divorced, but still not quite over his ex-wife. He was a teacher down South and took this job in the Midwest as a last ditch effort in trying to win her back. Instead, he met me. He came in for an interview and we only locked eyes for a brief moment, but something in the room changed.
He started work a week later and flirted with me all day long. I subtly let him know I was single to test the waters, and he asked me out. My heart pounded with excitement and I wanted to say yes. But I had reservations about our age difference, his past, and was overwhelmed by the tension and chemistry between us whenever we were in the same room.
We danced around our attraction all summer long and when I could no longer stand it, I finally said yes. The date was everything I hoped for. He presented me with a single red rose at dinner. At the end of the evening, he walked me to my door and gave me a chaste kiss that sent shivers down my spine.
The end of the summer came all too soon. I went back for my senior year of college and he retuned to his teaching job. Despite the distance, we stayed in touch for seven more months, mostly through letters and phone calls, remember, this was the 90s, so those calls were expensive.
He came to visit in December and we shared more passionate kisses and I let him touch me as no others had. It was very tame, I realize now, above the waist, but for the first time I wanted more. For him, I was insatiable.
There were more charged phone calls and letters through March when I came down to visit him for my spring break. The day before, I had disappointedly started my period, but that didn’t dampen my passion for him. My first night there, we did everything short of losing my virginity and with his encouragement, I touched him in ways I never wanted to with anyone else. He had awakened my passion and stole my heart.
The next morning, however, he was cold and distant towards me. That night, after he returned home from work we walked on the beach. “We need to talk.” His tone was somber and he didn’t look at me. “I met somebody else and I think she could be important to me. We can’t do this anymore.” I fought back tears as he continued, “I owe this to you. You and your interest in me gave me the confidence to approach her,” I was heartbroken, to me he was everything but I was a mere transition liaison. The final twist of the knife came when I replied, “But our relationship...” He bit back, “We didn’t have a relationship, we only went out on a few dates.”
At the time, it was devastating but as a grown up with a little more life experience, I realize that I shouldn’t have fallen in love with him. I should have used him, as he used me, to explore my sexuality. If I had taken off my naive romantic rose colored glasses, I could have had a very passionate, no strings attached, interaction.