Thursday, August 13, 2015

To All the Ones (I Thought) I Loved Before

Photo by Kelly Bauer
This may sound incredibly cliched, but the closer I get to my wedding, the more nostalgic I get. No, I'm not at that stage where I feel regret and secretly plan on running away at the altar. It's the opposite, really. The more I reflect on my past, the more I realize how lucky I am to be here right now. With him.

See, I was one of those girls who's had crushes since she could talk about them. When I was three years old I wanted to marry my next-door-neighbor. When I got to school, I had a crush on at least three different boys at a time. And when I was old enough to really talk to them, I did. I even occasionally had the guts to ask them to dance. And although I "loved" or liked each one in his own way, none of them were the one. And although I may have acted silly or girlish about each one, I don't regret any of it. So as I think back to my school days while I prepare to marry the love of my life, I'd like to give a shout out to a few of the major players. Why? Because without them, I wouldn't be marrying the man who is best for me.

The Neighbor in Cowboy Boots
When I was only three years old, I had a major crush on the blonde haired, blue eyed cutie who lived next door. He was the first boy I knew who wasn't related to me, so of course a crush developed. He'd come over wearing his cowboy boots and we'd sing country music into spatulas while spinning around the living room. I told my parents I'd marry him. Well, my family moved away a few years later, so that definitely didn't develop. I'm not sure that he taught me any lessons at that age, other than it's important to have fun.

The Ten+ Year Romance
By the time I got to school, I had one of those storybook crushes. I was convinced that this boy I met at five years old was the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Why, do you ask? I'm not sure. There wasn't anything particularly outstanding about him. Maybe I just wanted the movie romance. Either way, we spent more than 10 years on-again, off-again crushing on each other, which made me think it was meant to be. It even briefly dipped into college days, which surprised both of us. The thing is, if it was meant to be, it wouldn't have taken more than 10 years for it to work out. It always stopped working out because we just couldn't get along. He definitely taught me a lot about the opposite sex, as well as myself, but if I had to put it into one sweet message: If there's too much drama and you feel like you're trying too hard to make it work, you probably are.

The Altar Boy
I once had a crush on the most religious boy in my grade. That should have been my first warning sign, since that's not me at all. In fact, I once slept over at a friend's house on a Saturday night so I could attend church with her family and catch a glimpse of him that Sunday. (As if five days a week during school wasn't enough.) Well, turns out he didn't care for me, and awkwardly stumbling my way through my first Catholic service was downright terrifying, especially for a love that would fizzle after he called me the "spawn of the devil." (I would give a pro-choice speech in my sophomore year speech class, and he loathed me for it for years.) I learned that it's important to have things in common with someone you'd like to spend time with.

The First Boyfriend 
By high school, I'd had plenty of crushes but none of them were getting anywhere. I have high standards, I suppose. (Or at least that's what I told myself.) Finally, I met a boy on the football team who did have things in common with me. (He played in a band! I loved music!) We were going steady freshman year, holding hands and sitting in the bleachers after football games. However, the relationship wasn't moving quickly enough for him, and he left me for a friend who allegedly would put out. It was probably my first heartbreak. I learned that it's important to be with someone who respects you for you, not who they want you to be.

The Older One
When I was old enough to have my first car and my first job, I was on top of the world. I thought I was hot stuff, running around, meeting new people and not having a care in the world. My first foray into this exciting world was to develop a crush on a guy seven years older than me. (The fact that he was this much older than me and still working a high school job should have been a red flag, but all I saw were stars.) He threw out lines about how he'd wait for me to grow up, when I was older, yada yada, and I ate it all up. Then a year later I found out he'd been with my best friend for months. It was devastating. It's important to take things at face value. If it wasn't happening for me then, it probably was never going to happen. (And today I am so happy it didn't.)

The Rock Star
The older I became, without any real relationship experience under my belt, the more bitter I became. I was once the girl who wanted a storybook romance! But I was so done by the time I was about to start college. (How naive I was.) This guy was a "rock star" with eyeliner and long hair, who lived with his grandma. He thought he was tough, but when it was time to decide what we meant to each other, he told me he was a "drifter" who needed to be anywhere at any time. (That's still a head-scratcher for me.) I learned that if someone can't commit now, they probably never will.

The Rebound
My fiance and I have been together for five years now, but there was a short period of time we went through a rocky breakup. (At the time it was devastating, but looking back now it did a lot of good for us.) As much as I hate to admit it, I had a rebound romance. He didn't treat me well, but I thought it was what I needed at the time. It was a secret for the most part until, well, right now as I'm writing this. (Sorry, mom and dad.) If things had worked out with this person, I may not be getting ready for a wedding to the perfect man right now. But this guy showed me, in a roundabout way, that I am a good person and I deserve to be treated that way, which led me back to...

Chris/This Totally Awesome Boy
I can't even begin to put into words the effect my fiance has had on my life. (I tried to put our story into words once, on my old blog.) Although we've been through good times and impossibly hard times, he's taught me so much more about myself than all the high school crushes ever could. And in the end, he's treated me so well and has always been there for me. He also pushes me to be a better person, which is something no other guy has even attempted. It's obvious why I want to spend the rest of my life with him. I am myself when I am with him, simply put.

Basically, I waded through some duds on my way to find my future husband. But don't we all? I wouldn't trade any of these experiences, no matter how silly or awful they may have been, because they led me straight to the one. (Cue the sarcastic 'aww's.)

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