I was 26 when we met.
A year earlier, I had walked away from a six year relationship; lived alone for the first time; bought my own place; fell for an inappropriate man and got my heart broken. Though I had begun to pick up the pieces of my previous life, I was still uncertain as to how I would lay them back out again. I hadn’t decided yet who I wanted to be.
On that night he told me we were going to be good friends. I knew he meant that we were supposed to be in each other’s lives. He had a girlfriend. A week later, after she told him that she had drunkenly hooked up with his best friend, he didn’t. We went on our first date.
People tell us that falling in love is supposed to be simple; that when you meet “the one” everything will fall into place, but in doing so they don’t account for those of us who are damaged, or scared, or just not ready. People are complicated. Love is complex.
For the first year that we dated, I tried to listen to the things P was saying, even when it wasn’t what I had hoped for. I tried to hear without projecting my own interpretations. Although people would accuse me of being in denial, I never was. We were not in a committed relationship. I was always aware of what was going on. It was, at times, difficult, and painful and humbling. I stayed foremost because although he couldn’t make a commitment to a relationship, he did to our friendship. We spent the year getting to know each other.
When I first started this blog, I was ready for things to change with P and me. We took a few steps forward and then a couple steps back. When he told me he loved me, for the first time, I knew it wasn’t because he was enamored with me, or in lust. It wasn’t because he was drunk off the newness of us or because he had so lost himself in me that he had mistaken attachment with love. Still, we weren’t ready.
Back in September I started talking to a therapist. P and I kept hitting the same wall and I thought I needed an impartial listener to help me figure out what to do about us. For a long time, long before P even, I have felt aimless. I had started the process of redefining my life, back when I left my ex-boyfriend, but I stopped when I met P. I didn’t mean to do this. It was easier to wrap myself up in figuring him out. I have spent most of my life focusing on the wrong things. I was ready to change.
The first thing I did was clean my home. I unpacked the boxes I had ignored and threw out whatever I didn’t use. I made it feel like a home. I started doing the little things that make me happy; reading, listening to music, finding ways to be creative. I started running again. I signed up for a few night classes for fun. In the past I would have done this half heartedly, while still spending all my time focused on something else, whether that was a boy, or my parents divorce, or finals, but this time, all I focused on was me.
I hadn’t yet made any decision about P to give myself time to put my life in order. We were still in this grey area, but as I became clearer about my own life, our relationship got better. He had started to change too.
Before we met, P hadn't really dated. He had had a handful of girlfriends, but none that lasted longer than 9 months. He was 24. I terrified him, he later told me, because he knew that when he made a commitment to me, it would be the real thing. And he was 24.
Around the time of my Mrs. Robinson post, he lied to me. He told me the truth a day later. If it were a year earlier, I would have forgiven him right away. Instead, I told him off. I no longer had a place in my life for his stupid selfishness. At that moment I knew that though it would break my heart to walk away from him, it wouldn't break me. I was sad, but I was ok.
A few days later P came to me to tell me he didn't want to be scared anymore. That he would do whatever he needed to do to make things work between us. He used to tell me that when he was ready to be in a relationship, he would commit himself to it 100%. He is not someone who takes commitment lightly, nor is he someone who finds it easy to allow people into his life. He is also no longer 24. We have both grown up a lot since that night in December in 2003 when he first told me we were going to be good friends. We have seen the best and the worst of each other. We have hurt each other and forgiven each other but the one thing we have both been certain of, thr0ugh it all, is how much we want to be in each other's lives.
I told him, a few days later, that I was willing to try if he was.
That was three weeks ago. We have been having a great time. It feels "new" but the best part is, we already know each other. There are no deep, dark secrets for us to be afraid of; we're already best friends.
Well ok, that is the second best part. The best part is, as P pointed out to me the other day, we now have two anniversarys. One for the day we met (the day we have been celebrating) and one for the day we were "official". Of course all the friendship and love stuff is great and deep and all, but presents! MORE presents!