Now I was young, but I was smart. I saw the Jock checking himself out more than he did me and I knew our young love was destined for the gutter so I turned my monogamist eyes elsewhere. And I found him two rows behind me in sophomore algebra. I believe with every ounce of my being that it is a part of every woman’s nature to fall for a “bad boy” at least once. This was my first time, but sadly, not my last. The Bad Boy was a cowboy through and through. He always faintly smelled of hay and he was never seen without chew tucked behind his lower lip. He woke up early in the morning to feed his Dad’s pigs and spent the rest of the day causing trouble in our tiny town’s high school. I had just gotten my license and I was so happy when he started asking me for rides home. I was elated when he asked me to be his girlfriend not much later. Unknown to me the Bad Boy had a temper. I’ll never forget when he punched a hole in the dash of my precious first car. I don’t remember what he was mad about and I don’t know why my car deserved to be punished for it, but none of that mattered then. I distinctly remember lying to my mother when she asked why I was crying after he told me he would kill himself if I ever left him. It took way to long but I eventually found a way to walk away from him and his psychological issues. Total time together—one year.
Out of what can only be classified as fear of the Bad Boy I ran to my closest guy friend for comfort and words of wisdom. The Mechanic was just the goofy guy who sat in front of me in yet another math class. He proved himself to be a good friend to me, even when he showed up to school drunk on multiple occasions and almost drug me into trouble with him. Our friendship, surprise, bloomed quickly into something more and I spent my Junior and Senior year experiencing everything with the Mechanic. My first horrible fight with my parents. Prom. Graduation. The SATs. And the day I turned eighteen we moved in together. And that’s when I stopped seeing my world through rose colored glasses. The Mechanic grew annoyed, mean and just completely uncomfortable to live with. It didn’t take long for the reason behind it all to surface. He was in love with someone else and he was leaving me for her. One day he was in my bed and the next he was gone from my life, resurfacing at random times to give me false hope that what we had could possibly be restored. And I believed him until one day he took it to far and I realized I was lucky to be rid of him with my health and the happiness that I knew would return sooner than later. Total time together—a year and a half.
I spent the summer watching the Mechanic rub his new relationship in my face. No matter where I went I couldn’t escape them, and our tiny town spoke of to many memories, most of them I preferred to not remember. So I packed up my things and moved north, away from him and away from any more small town boys who could break my heart. I moved in with a friend, started college and focused on working as a hostess at a local burger joint, conveniently ignoring every customer that hit on me. But I saw something that I could selfishly use to my advantage when The Pretty Boy started hosting with me. He was younger than me, immature in every way imaginable and pliable. But he was fun, he didn’t expect anything from me and for once I was the one in control. But fun got boring in the blink of an eye. As soon as I was ready to back out of the “relationship” he was ready to move forward. I remember him not asking, but telling me that I was now his girlfriend. I felt so bad sitting there looking into his blue eyes that I quietly said ok and pondered why I was going to waste another at least six months of my life with someone I didn’t want to be with. When the time finally came to cut the umbilical cord he cried on my bed and then I had to drive him home. Total time together—six months.
Even with the Pretty Boy’s consistent advances at trying to grace me with his presence, I graciously and nervously accepted a friend’s request to set me up with a guy they knew. I couldn’t say no. He was in college, had a steady job, and a car. And when we talked he seemed normal enough. It took him longer than it should have to ask me out on a date and when I met him in the movie theatre he stood there looking as nervous as I felt and it made me smile. We had fun yet pointless conversation about things like drum sets and whether or not we liked thunderstorms. We spent everyday together after that and it took my newest beau, The Spoiled One no more than three weeks to tell me he loved me. For the first time since the Mechanic left I felt like I had a real connection with someone and on a whim, I opened myself up to him and to love. We (or maybe it was just me) reached a point where we wanted to live together, and we spent weeks researching and shopping apartments, buying old furniture to restore and making plans. One sunny afternoon we were outside staining a table and chairs we had bought when out of no where he shakes me to the core.
Spoiled: “I can’t do this.”
Me: “Um … what?”
Spoiled: “I can’t live with you. I’m not ready. I want to stay here and live at home for a little while longer.”
Me: “You’ve got to be kidding. You’re twenty-two years old with a steady job with a girlfriend who loves you and wants to move in with you and instead you want to stay at home and live with Mommy and Daddy?”
We never did finish staining the table.
Instead, I painted it black and put new fabric on the chairs to make it just how I imagined it and put it in my new apartment while he stayed behind in the room that had once been his nursery. It didn’t take long into my new life, with my new apartment, and new job to realize that my newest boyfriend was the most spoiled person I had ever known and I wasn’t going to be someone’s mother. I wanted to be someone’s lover, friend, companion, confidant, other half, anything but their mother. So when I cried that night after I broke up with him, it wasn’t necessarily for the lost relationship this time. It was for the time I had lost and the independence I had never given myself. I had always been “we” or “us” or “him and I.” I didn’t know what it was like to just be me. Total time together—a year and a half.