It was the late winter of 2012 when I met him. I was turning 17, dating a boy at my high school and helping out with a children’s theater program. I believe that when you see something the first time and you feel a click, it’s right. Seeing him was the largest click of all.
He was 20 and beautiful. He was growing his hair long to donate and had a goofy laugh. He had warm brown eyes and his breath smelled like cigarettes. He was an emotional creature. He was so very imperfect and, until him, I couldn’t bring myself to tolerate people’s flaws. I loved his, though, and I loved him from the first moment I saw him.
But I had a boyfriend and, even if I was single, I didn’t think he would ever look my way. I soon found out that he had a girlfriend. Any secret hopes were crushed. I admired him from afar.
Since, as I noted, I wasn’t so good then at tolerating flaws, I soon found myself single. Sadly, my perfectly imperfect boy was still with his perfectly perfect girl, and the theater program came to a close.
The next time I saw him was the following summer, when we both had jobs in the theater workshop. During the first class, we were assigned to put scripts together in a back room. The California heat pummeled its way into the tiny room, but I was too nervous to take off my cardigan.
We spent hours in that room. We worked on the scripts, cleaned the entire room, and used it as a waiting area for auditions. We talked and laughed and grew so dearly close. That summer, he became my best friend.
Now that I look back on it, I can see just how much we needed each other.
I learned that his girlfriend had cheated on him. He was broken. He was a lonely soul. I couldn’t take advantage of that. Instead, I put my feelings, which had been growing stronger and more painful by the day, on the back burner. I wanted him to be happy and knowing that I was the one person he called his best friend was enough. The label of “best friend” was sacred to me.
We decided that he needed a rebound. Someone to take the bad taste of his ex-girlfriend out of his mouth. I didn’t know anyone and he wasn’t sure where to start, but we ended up finding someone. It broke my heart, of course, but I expected the encounter to last a few days at most.
I call the next few months of our relationship “the dark ages.”
He stayed with the perfect-enough rebound. He stayed with her and he didn’t love her and it killed me. He talked to me more than he talked to her. It sounds horrible, but I was proud of that.
Around September, he and I were invited to a mutual friend’s wedding and decided to go together. He had turned 21 that August, so I was going to be his designated driver. I teased him that I was a great date and that he had to promise not to tell me that he fell in love with me because of it.
Then, he did.
God, I wanted to say how much I loved him. I wanted to kiss him back when he kissed me. I wanted to jump into his arms and live happily ever after. But there was a problem: He still had a girlfriend — the rebound I had sent his way.
He did not break up with her. He said he worried what she might do if he left her. So we talked. And talked. And we got closer and closed and ... too close.
It’s something I’m not proud of. I promise that I discouraged him as much as I could. I refused to tell him I loved him. Still, we found ourselves in a very deep, very dark emotional affair. It lasted for months, but it felt like years.
He found a new girlfriend about a month later.
She led him on and broke his heart, for about two years. Each time, I was there to pick up the pieces. I loved him. I eventually realized that we needed to part ways. He always told me to take poisonous people out of my life, but he ended up being the most poisonous of all.
I’m engaged now. Recently my perfectly imperfect boy called. He said he missed me, that he’d planned to ask me to be his.
I love my fiancé more than anything, but that tore open my wounds like I never thought they would open again. I ache. I hurt. My perfectly imperfect boy would always be so painfully imperfect.
Faith Hall is an early childhood development major at Bakersfield College and participates in theater in Los Angeles and Bakersfield. (Find her on Twitter @FaithCHall)
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