There’s always a first. And you’ll think it’s the last.
I met mine when I was in college. I thought I had things figured out at the time. Now I’m 33 and I know that’s not true.
We skipped classes to go to the beach, played video games, and spent hours listening to music only to realize that her taste was cooler than mine. She taught me to appreciate art in every form and find poetry in words unspoken.
She was the beautiful chaos everybody needs at least once in their lives.
Once, but not forever. The charm you find in your first love is different because it’s like no other that came before, but it’s not lasting.
Then you’ll meet the one who’s the opposite of the last one.
After the devastation of your first love, you’ll feel wiser, more cautious, but readier to be with somebody. You’ll think you know what went wrong before, and you’ll know better this time around. You’ll think that going the opposite direction is obviously the way to make it work.
But of course life isn’t as simple as that.
I went the complete opposite on this one. I thought slow and steady was the way to do it. “Don’t rock the boat”, I constantly told myself.
But there were always things that would rock the boat. Big things. Things we couldn’t handle and eventually, we just let them overtake us.
Which was the right thing to do. It made me realize what a real relationship needed to be, and what kind of commitment a commitment should be.
After a love like that you’ll do some soul-searching. You’re going to want to find out who you really are, question your beliefs, find the principles worth standing up for, and build the values you want your life to embody.
Then you’ll meet the person who’ll challenge everything.
This person will come just when you thought you’ve REALLY figured things out. Mine came when I was about 25, and I thought “Ah! The next one, will be the last one.”
I’m at that “marrying age”, I’m working, feeling more confident about myself, who I am, what I want in life, etc etc. I was feeling cocky. I wanted my life to have meaning. I wanted to have a purpose.
As if on cue, I met just the person.
Our relationship, was made extraordinarily beautiful by the hardships that surrounded it. The challenges we faced were not the usual kind. It was life or death in a literal sense. And our victories on a daily basis overshadowed a bigger void we didn’t recognize.
The lack of passion.
No matter how steady, how strong, how pure and good your intentions are for each other, without the passion to love each other the way you should, it’s going to come crumbling down.
And down it went.
I felt spent, lost, and very much resentful. All the cockiness and the smugness of feeling like I’m running ahead of the race was punched right out of me.
I was so sure I was perfect. Of course I wasn’t. But I did more than what was expected of me, I was more than what I expected of myself, I put other people first and put myself last.
And there it was. I put myself last. Took me a while to figure that one out.
You don’t put yourself last. Not ever. And it’s not selfish either. Putting other people first doesn’t make you noble. It makes you vulnerable, which makes everything else you build on top of it shaky at best.
The foundation of any relationship, any solid relationship, are two strong individuals. If you don’t lock your part down before you’re part of a bigger equation, then you’re going to be feeding off your partner’s strength until it’s unable to support both of you.
It was a silent killer, but it was there.
So I had to build myself back up from scratch. But it wasn’t exactly ground zero like I felt it was. I was starting on higher ground. I discovered the importance of being complete on my own. Of loving myself and of building a life I actually liked before inviting someone else to share it with me.
I had the chance to build a better self. So I did.
And then I met the love that made all the others necessary.
I didn’t meet her by chance. I met her by choice.
In the process of making myself a better person, I was careful to choose the kinds of people I wanted to be around. And one good sign that you’re on the right track is when people believe in you enough to recommend you for all sorts of things-- for a job, for a project, or turns out, for a date.
I met her from a good friend. For our first date, we went to the beach, took a cliched stroll by the shore, and two years after, we’re still walking on sand, picking up shells, and writing the rest of our love story, as I sit here writing this.
She is the steady excitement I look forward to every day. The right amount of crazy that jolts me out of complacency and breathes life into the mundane. She is the love that fortifies my beliefs, lives my values with me, and challenges me to better myself constantly.
Our adventures consist of travels, grocery lists, kitchen dates, and car rides. We live the highest of the highs, fight in the lowest of the lows, but meet in the middle ground where everything is settled.
She already feels like the grand prize in the lottery of hits and misses, and the possibility of forever is just the sweet bonus in the game of life.
So I’m hopeful. And really, that’s all we can ever ask for.