Life is crazy sometimes. Like you don’t see this coming, but it’s totally awesome kind of crazy.
This time last year is when I got on a total zouk dancing train after me and this nice dude I dated for a few months broke up. I ended up traveling 1-2X per month socially dancing at zouk events and building my skills. I absolutely loved it. I love to dance, so it was a particularly special time in my life to be able to dedicate so much time and focus to that.
And here we are now.. I’m married to my first boyfriend I met when I was 12 and my first love at 15. And I’m moving around with him as he travels for different projects for work. I quit my job in Atlanta to join him in Charleston, SC and we look forward to moving back to Ann Arbor, MI for a few months before going to San Francisco, CA and then maybe Lexington, KY. Like WTF.
But it sounds more romantic and less crazy if you haven’t heard our story. So let me tell you how we began…
I was a new girl in 7th grade at Saline Middle School. I moved mid-December and I cried for 3 months after I moved, because I loved and missed my life at my old school in Ohio. I had the best friends, I was on the cheerleading team, I loved all of my teachers, I got to be in math class with all the 8th graders (I skipped a grade because I was a math nerd), I ballroom danced and painted outside of school, and I was the lead guitarist in a band. And I had to leave that all behind because my mom got a new job in Michigan.
That said, I got really lucky when I moved to Saline. A girl who was the new girl the year prior, came up to me and invited me to a basketball game and her birthday party the week I moved. She introduced me to a lot of the people I’m still friends with now.
We used to walk to the rec center after school sometimes. We usually went swimming or goofed off, and checked out the boys playing basketball. One of the days we went swimming, my friend said that our friend Travis is going to come join us and bring his friend. I didn’t really think anything of it, since I felt like I was meeting someone new every day.
Towards the end of our swim, my friend came up to me and told me she had to talk to me. She told me that Travis’s friend, Frankie, likes me. She said he’s a really nice guy and I should go for him. I was thinking I don’t know, I don’t even know the guy!! And I’ve had guy friends and crushes before, but I never actually had a real boyfriend so I didn’t even really know what to do about it. It’s not like he was chatting me up either, he was shy and awkward on the other side of the room.
So I kind of just let it go and we left the rec center. One of the parents picked up all the girls, and the guys left separately. On the way home, the guys called us and asked me out on speakerphone. I kind of was put on the spot, so I said yes. (I was also kind of excited- this was my first real boyfriend!).
Then came the dating, we dated for a month (it was middle school after all). As I started to like him more, I got insecure and broke up with him because I felt like he wasn’t giving me much attention so he must’ve not liked me that much. I totally suck too, because I broke up with him over a voicemail on his house phone. Not sure whether he got it, but the next day he had a friend tell me he didn’t want to date me anymore either (and he said he never heard the voicemail- okay, sure). Little did I know, was that he was always kind of a shy guy when it came to girls, and a middle school relationship just didn’t involve much. We hugged in the hallways and he gave me a sweatshirt to wear in school.
8th grade comes around and I totally have the hots for him again. I remember seeing him at the basketball game in the bleachers below me, and totally swooning for him. I don’t remember how we started talking (probably over AIM), but I remember how he got me flowers on Valentine’s Day that year. Of course, Frankie’s romantic gestures usually come with a story so I later find out, that he completely forgot about Valentine’s Day and begged my friend for help. She gave him the flowers someone else gave her, so that he had something to give to me. Our love this time around grew stronger. We talked on the phone every day and I racked up the phone bill texting him more than I was allowed to (back then, you had to pay $0.10 per text I believe and anyone that knows me, knows I can text like a mo-fo).
Summer before 9th grade comes around, and I have to go to my routine family trip to Belarus. I go for two weeks, and bring my friend Michelle with me this time.
Nevertheless, me and Frank still talked every day over myspace. I would look forward to the mornings when I could open up my MySpace and see a new message from my boo. Most of them would be a sentence or two, just saying things like I miss you, I love you, and I can’t wait to see you when you come home. After the two weeks, on my way home from the airport, I call my love to let him know I’m around and almost home!! Well, he decided to surprise me with a heartbreaking three way phone call (on speakerphone in the car with my family) to let me know that he likes my (ex)friend and they’re going to be together. We broke up, and while the breakup only lasted 3 days before he came back telling me he misses me, that was only the beginning of the horrendous saga that was going to endure for another year.
We were madly in love all of 9th grade, but we had the messiest relationship. Frankie would hurt me, I’d break up with him, he’d do something worse he’d later regret, I’d try to get revenge on him in some way, he’d try to make me feel bad about myself for whatever I did, we’d fight, and the cycle would continue until one of us would crack and beg for each other back. We couldn’t stay away, but we couldn’t be together either. The amount of pain we inflicted on each other was not at all healthy and not a reflection of love, it was a demonstration of immaturity, insecurity, and a lack of stability. There was so much betrayal, and not only towards each other, but with our friends. Some of the people I called friends showed me their true colors, and not only once, but over and over again. And while it taught me a lesson to choose the people in my life more wisely eventually, it also made me a worse person for a while. The rule that states the five people you spend the most time with shape who you are, held true. I was selfish, inconsiderate, petty, vengeful, and a party girl, I didn’t trust anybody and I was not any better of a person than the people who were inflicting me pain.
I tried to move on from that relationship that year, but it was really tough. I dated one guy, and Frankie tried to fight him. We ended up getting back together. I tried dating someone else, but the other guy broke up with me because he heard that Frankie was weaseling back into my life. Finally, summer going into 10th grade, Frankie started dating another girl. At that point, I forfeited. I was so hurt, but I was set on enjoying life so I hung out with my friends and just had a good time. I sparked something with a guy I was friends with. He was such a wonderful human being, and I knew he would make a great boyfriend. I dated him for my remaining high school years, but I still never fully got over Frankie. Frankie was always still around- around my friends and I was around his. I suppose we put ourselves into those positions, probably because we wanted to see each other even though we couldn’t be together.
But we couldn’t even be friends. We either hated each other and bickered, or we felt a connection and I yearned for more. I still remember one moment so clearly when he tried to kiss me and saying no to him right then was the hardest thing I ever had to do. All I wanted to do, was melt into his arms and get back together, but I knew I couldn’t put myself through the torture I had in the last year. So I said goodbye, and cried all the way home.
Senior year of high school comes around and me and my nice boyfriend, as I liked to refer to him, break up. A few months later, I have a birthday party, and I remember being excited because Frankie showed up. Everyone ended up getting kicked out because some underclassman crashed my party and started puking everywhere, but Frankie told me to come over to his house after. I don’t know why I didn’t just have him sneak into my house, but I ended up driving over there.. Only to have NO RESPONSE. The next morning he told me he fell asleep. I was livid. I didn’t think he’d ever change. And at this point, why should I care?
We graduate high school, and move on to our separate paths. I go to college, and spend the majority of my time studying health science, volunteering in the medical field, and ballroom dancing competitively. Frankie continues to be a trouble maker, and then goes to work with his dad. Freshmen year of college, we talk about seeing each other again and hanging out, but we just never did. Then he continues to contact me about once or so a year to catch up. Nothing really eventful comes out of our conversations except for plans to meet up that never happen. It made me wonder if my love for him was ever real. It was so strong and the memory stuck to me like a leech, but I didn’t know if it was just a part of puberty or what. I missed loving someone so much like I loved him, and I missed feeling loved in the same way, but was it a realistic pursuit to find that? Or is intense, passionate love destined to end by crashing and burning? Once it’s healthy, does the feelings of love die down? I spent the next few years, looking for the same intensity as I had before and not settling for anything else. However, I met some guys I was into who were neglectful or unloyal and I met other guys who were sweet but something still wasn’t enough. So I tried to just focus on school and dance instead.
Then I moved out of the state for grad school. By that point, I had already exhausted and burned myself out in college and I just wanted to relax. I didn’t have energy to be the ambitious, over achiever I once was and I didn’t even have energy to dance seriously. I just wanted to survive grad school, get a degree, enjoy the sunshine in the South, get a job, and start settling down.
Love didn’t really work out for me, but I did make some good memories and meet some fun people. Once I moved to Atlanta, that’s when all the fun began. I met some wonderful people and I fell into another partner dance called Zouk. This MADE my year.
Everything felt right in the world. Well, for the most part. I still wanted love, but I wanted my life to revolve around dance because I felt like building happiness through art and dance was all I had control over. And it worked. Until Frankie messaged me. I actually had a crush on another dancer guy at the time, but Frankie talked to me every day as a friend. It got to a point where neither one of us wanted to stop talking. He was such a sweetheart, and I remembered there was a part of him that was always like this. But I also remembered the trouble maker in him and wasn’t sure he was the kind of person I wanted in my life, especially since he’d get in the way of my dance and art dreams that already proved to bring me happiness.
The breaking point was on a day I was very stressed. I was sick and needed to pack all my things in one apartment and move to another one, but I had no energy or motivation to do it. Frankie happened to be living only 5 hours away from me (compared to the 12 hours away we were from our home town) and he offered to drive over. Initially I said yes, but I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea. I didn’t trust him enough to want to just catch up, but I was curious about how he was, I was curious about what would happen, and I also just knew I could use the help. After he had already left work to come see me, I texted one of my best friends and told her he’s coming and she questioned why, and I just couldn’t come up with a good answer. She reminded me that it’s not nice to toy with peoples’ feelings if I don’t understand mine, and that I’ve made so much progress without him in my life. I told him he couldn’t come anymore, but we were both so bummed about it.
I didn’t understand why I was so sad. I thought about a time I totaled my car in an accident, and a guy I recently ended things with didn’t want to even help me get groceries because our fight was “too fresh”. I thought about how not everyone in life will be there for you through thick and thin. And here I had a guy who was willing to drive 5 hours on a weekday just to help me pack my apartment up and make my day better. And it wasn’t just some guy. It was THE guy; the guy who, at one point, I had incomparable love for. My heart felt like it was ripping itself apart saying no to him again. My whole body and soul was screaming say yes, when I was telling myself I should probably say no. I didn’t understand why I cared. I didn’t understand why I felt heartbroken to not let him see me. What’s the big deal? It’s just a guy from my past, and it’s not like we were about to get back together. That’s what I told myself.
Well, he didn’t come that day. The next day, however, he was flying to Michigan and had a layover in Atlanta. Was it fate? If I didn’t let him come, maybe I could go see him? If I’d see him, then I’d know why my body was yearning. His layover was so short, but something came over us and we were scrambling like mad men trying to find a way to make it work. His solution? He bought me a plane ticket to get through security and see him out to his gate, before going back to work at the office.
So I did that. I left work, went through security, saw him and his dad, and went back to work, turned off my computer, and went home. I didn’t know what to think, to be honest. When I saw him, my body was so nervous it was shaking. He seemed like something so surreal. I kept touching his face as if he was a statue. When we talked, it felt so natural, it was too easy. I was so comfortable with him, yet I wasn’t at ease. I was still so confused.
The next week I had to travel to Chicago to see our hospital client for work. I was supposed to stay in Chicago that weekend but as something came up for one of the friends I was considering staying with, I decided to go back. I was also aching to figure out what I was feeling inside. I was so confused but I knew there was something there. So I decided to drive to South Carolina.
I have to say, that during that trip, I felt the love. It felt like it never left but only grew stronger, smarter, and wiser. Everything between us just worked so easily. No doubts, insecurities, questions, tension. It was like our relationship was a stream of water gently moving down the river. We knew we would still had things to work through from our past, and we’d still have some struggles in our future, but the decision on whether or not to choose this road together was easy. After my trip to South Carolina, Frankie joined me back in Michigan when I went home for Labor Day weekend. Then he joined me to North Carolina to visit some of my old friends and meet his aunt. We celebrated his birthday, went to concerts, did a charity run, visited his family in Texas, and enjoyed simple time together the next few weeks. The more we spent time together, we knew there was no other option.
Everyone’s experience in love is very different. Some people have one great love in their loves, and some have many loves. Some people feel intense heat and passion right away in their relationships, and some people let their relationships grow and flourish slowly over time. You can choose who you will spend time with and you can always choose not to be with someone whether it’s because you do not care for them, you know it will be toxic for you, you do not want the same things, or you do not think it’s worth pursuing as it may hurt someone else involved. However, you can not force a connection that’s not there and you can not make someone ready for you if they’re not. That’s why the connections that are real are so special and not always so easy to find.
Me and Frank both tried to recreate the same feeling we had together with other people, but it never worked. The only time we felt the same type of love we did as kids, was with each other again as adults. Love comes to you in whatever shape or form or time, and you can either choose to accept it or not. For us, it was probably for the best that we didn’t stick with our love when we were kids because it gave us time to grow so that we were ready to deserve each other in the future. But since we got another chance on our love now, we chose to nurture it this time around. And we feel grateful every day that we got this chance again.