10 Years Later

Almost a decade ago, I had a high school sweetheart. I haven’t been a part of the whole High School Musical mania, but I’m thinking our story would have resembled like that. We always played opposite each other in high school and community plays. I was Dorothy, he was the Cowardly Lion. I was the princess, he was the prince. You name the random female character and he was the male counterpart. In other words, we spent a lot of time together. When we weren’t in drama class, we were in community theatre after school.

After graduation, I left for Boston and he left for Fort Benning, GA. He had enlisted as an Army Ranger, and I was headed for film school. Our first year of a long distance relationship didn’t end well. He was going through mental and physical hell. He used to tell me that the only difference between a Navy Seal and an Army Ranger was that if you’re a Seal, they just try to drown you, over and over. If you’re a Ranger, they try every other way to kill you.

I was going through my own bout of Freshman Depression. I was homesick, lonely and confused. I was a poor kid in a private school that only had 15% of their student body on financial aide. I locked myself in the dorm, reading letters from my sweetheart, crying at the pain I could feel in them. On rare occasions, he would call me and describe the brain-washing “training” he was going through. I’d sit and listen in shock, while he laughed in a voice that scared me.

We saw each other again at Christmas, 2000. After that, no more contact. Rumors started flying that he was hooking with every girl in town. He was a military man, right? That’s what they did. They went to strip clubs and drank like fish during their time off. I heard he got accepted to West Point. Then 9/11 happened, and America’s collective panic level went to code orange, and I wondered if he was laying in a ditch somewhere in the middle east.

Eventually I stopped thinking about him. I went full throttle into party mode. I drowned my sorrows in as many mood altering substances as I could. I clubbed until I dropped. I started using the phrase “I can sleep when I’m dead.” I met Rooferman. I got engaged. I got pregnant. I became a single mom.

My new job has exposed me to a whole new sector of the Durango population (and we aren’t that big of a town). In a few years, I may know everyone within the city limits. In fact, yesterday, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years.

My high school sweetheart.

After an awestruck hug, numerous frazzled comments, I told him to stop by my office whenever if he wanted to talk. He nodded and bid me farewell. LB and I made our way to the car, my mind still reeling.

I turned around. He was standing there.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“That’s ok,” I said.

“I just really wanted to tell you something. I’ve been thinking about it for years now.”

Oh Christ. This should be good.

“I just wanted to say that I went through a really messed up time in my life while I was in the Army, and I was really awful to a lot of people. I know you were one of those people and I just wanted to say I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve it.”

I was the definition of dumbfounded.

I actually said, “Are you better now?”

“Yeah, I’m doing really good now.”

“Well good. I hope you didn’t beat yourself up for the last 10 years, because I’m fine. I don’t think our relationship did any permanent damage to me.”

At this point, LB is looking at me with an expression I don’t even know how to describe. I realize that she’s never seen me interact one-on-one with another man like this. She’s never seen me hug a man (besides grandpa).

My high school sweetheart walks away into the dusk, and I can’t help but wonder if he’s still single. Last I heard, he was married, divorced, and remarried. Kind of seems like the wrong time to ask, 10 years later, in the parking lot, with your toddler in hand.

P.S. He’s a Scorpio.

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16 thoughts on “10 Years Later

  1. Fate! This can only be explained as fate!

    I beleive in reasons for things – there has to be a reason you bumped into him again! Even if it was only for that apology!!

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  2. Laura- He he he, fate seems to be completely throwing me for a loop this year.

    Liz- Sorry about the brain-washing comment. I didn’t mean to disrespect your dad. My sweetheart was 100% honored to be selected as an elite member of that group. I think he got a lot out of being in the Army, but I think it took a lot from him too. Hey, I guess that’s part of growing up, right?

    Bad Mummy- Scorpio & Pisces = Mucho passion and romance, but yeah, a lot of drama (two water signs = emotional rollercoaster).

    April- I should look up his information and stalk him- KIDDING! I learned my lesson with sushi boy. I do hope I see him again, even if its just for coffee.

    m- I’m still constantly amazed that I can say I knew someone ten years ago. Christ I’ve lived 2 and a half decades.

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  3. OMG! That is so awesome to hear that you ran into each other. I remember after he returned to Durango we would try and get him to hang out again, which he never did. I am so glad that you guys talked. I am also very glad he apologized, as I remember the turmoil he caused you!
    I am sure you guys will be hanging out again real soon! Maybe he is single again, a single dad who understands what you deal with.
    When he calls, tell him hi please. BTW E has been asking if we were doing anything for our 10 year reunion, I was thinking our class and yours could try a get together, eh?
    Much love!
    xoxoxoxox

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  4. How cool! 10 years. That’s also very cool that he actually changed and had the good sense to apologize for past wrongdoings. Really helps to put things in perspective 🙂

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  5. How strange! Just this past Thursday I was sitting at a picnic table in the English and World Languages building of my school and my first boyfriend recognized me. I haven’t seen or talked to him in five years. I don’t think mine had anything to do with fate, though.

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  6. I seriously can’t believe it’s been almost ten years. CRAZY!! I’m glad he apologized and that you got a little more closure with the whole deal, even though you’ve both moved on. See you soon =) Love ya!

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