I loved myself at sixteen. He loved me too. Only I didn’t realize it at the time.
I was a sophomore in high school, a Junior Varsity cheerleader, and an editor for the school newspaper. I maintained a 4.0 GPA and still managed to hang with my best friend during the weekends. I knew everything about everything. Especially LOVE. I was sixteen after all.
Let me tell you a little about my best friend.
I met him when I was ten. He lived three houses down from mine. We spent our days playing Super Mario Brothers, shooting hoops, and watching movies like Pretty in Pink and Saint Elmo’s Fire. Then there were the long walks to the park. Sometimes in the rain. Where we would philosophize on how we’d change the world if we became president. Or, the time I told him to meet me at the corner because my mom cut eight inches off my hair and he listened to me ugly cry the entire hour.
He was set apart from the beginning. A true gentlemen. He was physically developed and highly intelligent. Accomplished in both the areas of science and art. Nothing like the other boys who were only interested in learning how to unhook a bra. Instead he helped me perfect my French and better understand the Pythagoras Theorem. He was my Renaissance Man. Our friendship grew stronger and stronger with each passing year. That is, until he moved away for college.
I hated myself at eighteen. I was a senior and felt abandoned by my best friend. Renaissance Man no longer lived around the corner from me. I thought I lost him FOREVER. The same boy I broke a turkey wish bone with in 1987.
Fortunately, I was wrong. After being apart for so long our paths finally intersected in June of 1993. Renaissance Man surprised me with a visit on graduation day. This time around I didn’t let him leave before declaring my love for him. We got married the following year without a penny to our name. I should mention that were it not for Renaissance Man’s parents, we probably wouldn’t have had a roof over our heads either.
I loved myself again at twenty one. I already had two years of marriage under my belt and was settling into my role as a wife. Other girls I knew at that age spent their weekends hooking up with wannabe Kurt Cobain types at dive bars. Not me. I was busy fixing my husband the meanest Hamburger Helper anyone’s ever tasted.
Decades later, I am still the same girl. The one who fell head over heels for the boy next door. Perhaps a bit more tired. A bit shorter on patience. But, I love waking up to the same man every morning. Combined, Renaissance Man and I have two kids, four dusty diplomas, dozens of scars from heartbreak warfare, and eighteen years of marriage. Combined, we have one of the longest running friendships I know.
This is a special time of year for us. February 15th marks the twentieth anniversary of our FIRST kiss. So, while everyone else is celebrating hearts and chocolate today, we’ll be waiting to celebrate tomorrow.
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