Who Was Your First Boyfriend?
I have frequently joked that if I was put in a bar with ten men, and 9 of them were amazing guys and one of them was an as*hole – I would immediately go up and order a drink right next to the as*hole.
When I was in my teens and early 20s, it made for some funny stories. In my late 20s, it made for some moments of concern, and when I became a single mom in my early 30s it prompted me to do some really intense soul searching. After all – surrounding myself with as*holes is one thing, but exposing them to my daughter is another.
My kinder friends would tell me that one of the most endearing things about me is that I had no problem dating on potential. And my more blunt friends would tell me that the most tragic thing about my personality is that I always dated on potential.
“He will be a good guy once he stops drinking so much…” “He just needs to grow up and get sleeping around out of his system…” “The reason he is so difficult it is because he has been a bachelor for so long, but once he lets his guard down…”
Blah, blah, blah…yadda, yadda, yadda.
Why did I do this? I have no idea. I need a hell of a lot more therapy to get to the bottom of that little riddle. The list from Tracy McMillan’s, Why You Are Not Married comes to mind.
That was then. Now, I am a single mom and logistically speaking, dating is virtually impossible to do. Okay, maybe it’s not impossible, but it is quite difficult.
But I am going to let you in on a big secret: The real reason I entered the convent of my own living room is because I stopped believing.
I stopped believing that I could ever find someone I would want to be around, someone that I could trust to be a father figure to my daughter. I stopped believing I had the judgment to find the right man, and the personality to make it work with him. I stopped believing that my heart would ever skip a beat, or that there was someone out there that would treat me as if I was the only person in the room. I didn’t admit this to a soul (which is very rare) - but I gave up. Not in the bitter man-hating way, but more in the – my life is great as it is, why mess it up, kind of way.
That is until this past weekend.
I attended the wedding of a childhood friend, and I was preparing myself for a night of awkward moments standing off to the side while everyone enjoyed an evening with their dates.
“It’s fine,” I thought, “If you can walk into an operating room to have a c-section without a date, you certainly can go to a wedding reception without one. If it’s one thing you know how to do - it’s be single.”
But then something very strange happened when I sat down in the church where my friends were getting married. Sitting there, a few pews in front of me, was the very first boy I have ever kissed. He and I smooched on May 17th, 1993 in his parents’ basement and were boyfriend/girlfriend for a full 3 weeks. Our song was Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.” That is until I broke up with him because I said he was smothering me, which I think was qualified by him sitting too close to me at the lunch table.
For the next 6 years or so, we were in one another’s lives and social circles, and in that time I am ashamed to say, I was reckless with his feelings. I really wasn’t nice to him. And even though over a decade has gone by - it still kills me. I am pretty sure one of the final things he said to me before we lost touch was, “At some point you will want to end up with the nice guy.” Something I knew was 100% true, and something I was 100% not ready to do anything about it. I was a kid.
But this past weekend, as an adult, we ended up seated at the same table at our friend’s wedding reception. Moments after he sat down next to me, I realized that even after all of these years, we were still able to talk to each other with ease. I wanted to hear more about where he was at in his life and how he got there. No detail was too minute, no story long. I was blown away by his accomplishments and discipline, and warmed by his smile and his kind heart.
At some point in the evening, I told him I thought that we should dance, and he agreed - as long as I promised to let him lead. I conceded. As I awkwardly tried to find my dancing feet, he pulled me in close for a moment and our cheeks touched. I closed my eyes….took a deep breath…and did the impossible.
I started believing again.