The Unexpected Love Story

This is a semi-fictional story.

He had been her best friend since middle school, the boy next door. In high school he taught her to roller skate and drove her home after school, since he had a car and she didn’t. He was her best bud at the college they both attended. He sat in the bride’s side of the chapel when she got married. He served her tequila shots and junk food while she recovered from her divorce.

It was during one of these tequila-induced “damn the soulless bastard” evenings that comfort took a more physical outlet.

“We were both appalled the next day,” she says now, years later. “We were sure we’d just destroyed the friendship.” They made a vow that it would never happen again. Then they found themselves unable to keep it.

Two months later her divorce became final… and the little stick showed a plus sign.

He proposed immediately. And she said “no” immediately.
He proposed again. She declined again.

They were going to raise the child together, and stay best friends.Their families were unconvinced. He was unconvinced. She was determined. “I had one failed marriage, and I thought I loved him. I was not going to get married again just because I was married.”

But they did end up getting married, though she didn’t have another big wedding. They sneaked off to a justice of the peace shortly before their son made his first appearance.

Ten years and three kids later (two more after the surprise), she says that she doesn’t really know when she realized that she was, in fact, in love with the man who is now her husband. “I kept thinking that I didn’t feel the same way about him as about my first husband. I recognized ‘that’ as love, as being in love. But I’d love D for most of my life, as a friend, and I just couldn’t see past it.”

Just because it took while doesn’t mean it wasn’t a love story.

The May-December story

This is a semi-fictional story.

J is quite clear that what brought them together was the sex. She’s actually rather defensive as she says that he was the best lover she’s ever had, and that it was him pursuing her that resulted in the two of them getting together instead of the other way around. And so you’ll end up in a conversation about his creativity, when all you wanted to know was whether or not he was a nice guy.

I understand the attitude, the automatic walls, since I’ve seen how others react when she answers questions about their relationship. Disbelief it the most common reaction, though hostility often makes makes an appearance.

He has three decades of experience more than she does, and is a shining beacon of success and wealth. When she moved in with him she was still working on her undergraduate degree, though she was slightly older than the traditional college student. She was, to put it bluntly, the younger woman. And friends and frenemies alike took great delight in taking shots at her over this. It was as if she’d done harm to others when all she was doing was living with an older, single man.

“She’s a kept woman,” said a frenemy, very vocally. “I don’t know how she can show her face at school every day.”

But show her face she did. Usually after driving to class in his Ferrari, from the downtown high-rise condo he bought because it was walking distance from the downtown law office where he was a partner.

She didn’t have to work because he paid all the bills, including her credits cards and tuition. She always had the latest and greatest everything, without having to worry about budgets or jobs or any of the things many of us in that state school contended with every day. That alone made her unpopular.

“It’s not like he was married,” she adds. “We weren’t cheating or anything.”

And how they crowed in delight when the breakup happened.

The one that got away

This is a semi-fictional story.

She saw him once, years later. He was accompanied by one of his “usual types” and she was with her husband, heavy with her second pregnancy.

“I never understood what he was doing with me,” she says in retrospect shortly after the encounter. “He was always into tall, statuesque blondes and I was this short, lumpy brunette.”

Her lack of understanding doesn’t take away the fact that he stayed with her much longer than with anyone else. For someone who is a notorious commitment-phobe, still, she was an aberration that gave all the rest hope that his ways had changed. They hadn’t.

One day, late into their relationship, she realized that she wanted more. She wanted a future. And she knew that trying to get him to give her that, the future she wanted, would break them. Instead she broke it off, telling him honestly why.

He didn’t take it well. “It wasn’t the fact that we were ending, I think, but the fact that I was ending it before he was ready,” she explains. His parting words were cruel and hurtful, and they stayed with her a long time.

Looking back she realizes that without those hurtful words she might have been tempted to go back to him, to beg him to forget her moment of doubt. “I missed him. I missed him a lot.”

Instead she went out and tried to live without him, connecting with friends and family, and meeting new people. She met her husband nearly two years later. She says she knew he was the one from the very first conversation. They were married absurdly fast, within a few months. She was pregnant shortly after.

“I always knew I was going to run into him at some point. This city is too small for that not to happen ever,” she muses. “I’m glad it didn’t happen earlier, when I was still hung up on him.” She later adds, slightly embarrassed, that she’s happy she could show him that she did get what she wanted. That leaving him was the smart thing to do.

The encounter went well, much to her surprise. He was polite, let her introduce him to her husband. (Her husband knew who he was, since she’d told him all bout her previous relationships.)

“He hasn’t changed at all,” she says.

And now she doesn’t have to think about him as the one that got away.

image source: Kaz / Pixabay

This fairy tale started in a bar

This is a semi-fictional story.

They met in a bar.

I should clarify that what that means is that the first time she saw him it was in a bar. He was on a date with “some random skank” (as she describes it, years later) and she was working as a waitress. He was in the last six months of a two-year contract with a local oil company. She was moonlighting to make her rent.

I should be able to tell you that the rest is history, that it was love at first sight and they lived happily ever after, but the reality is that there have been many many chapters in their story.

He says now that he doesn’t even remember who that girl was. I’m not certain that he noticed my friend that first time at all, but I know she noticed him. He made a big enough impression that when he came in the next time, alone, she gave him her phone number.

“He was just my type,” she says over skinny ritas after work. “And you should have seen me back then, I was toned.” I’m pretty sure she took him home that night, or went home with him, but that’s just a supposition. I’ve never asked, and she’s never volunteered that piece of info.

Ten years into their marriage, fifteen years into their relationship, she didn’t feel toned any more. But she still burned for him.

On this particular evening he was at a… club with his friends. With her blessing.It amazed his friends that not only had he told her where he was going, but that she was okay with it. It amazed me that she actually was okay with it and not just pretending.

They really do have a great marriage, and I’m not just saying that because she’s okay with him going to see half-naked women dance around.

“I have dibs on him, you know,” I remind her. “If you ever die, I get your husband,” I tease. I’ve been telling her this joke since the morning I picked her up to go to work to find him ironing her clothes and planning the menu for dinner. This is what he did during the weeks he was back on shore, busied himself as house husband.

The only reason she lets me get away with the teasing is that she knows that I have no interest in her husband at all. And that I’m not the only one of her friends trying to call dibs on him.

They met in a bar. They fell in love. They lived happily ever after.

It’s a nice story to see in real life.

image source: Nemo / Pixabay