When I was in high school, I dated a guy, “M.” I was fifteen and he was nineteen (the age of consent in my state made this okay, okay!) Being fifteen and in high school (and a naughty, slacker high school student, at that) my parents would not approve of me dating, and never of someone so much older than me (this is funny now because my fiancé is 11 years my senior and my mom loves him probably more than she loves me). Anyway, we dated “officially” for one month, between January and February of 2009. We had, however, had feelings for each other since the October prior, the month I turned fifteen. On my birthday he and his friend took me to Tantalus, a popular late-night spot in town (it’s a neighborhood/area going up a mountain; young people go there to race, drift, etc.). and sang me happy birthday. I remember this clearly. That was my first time there, and it’s somewhere I frequent with my fiancé (because he’s into drifting), friends, and my dogs.
At the time that we met, he had a girlfriend, “L.” They dated until January. I’m sure you can piece together what happens. After he finally broke up with her, her friends would constantly call him and ask, “What does she have that —- doesn’t?” and he would make a face, give some sarcastic remark, and hang up. She constantly badgered him – and rightfully so, having had her boyfriend stolen by a fifteen-year-old – and this, of course, made me paranoid. This is where I think my “crazy” girlfriend streak comes from. I always had it in the back of my mind that he didn’t fully choose me over her, so I would read his private comments on MySpace (you know, URL tricks) and I had found that they were talking when he said they weren’t. They weren’t speaking romantically, but just simply catching up. Still, at fifteen, this was terrible to me and I shut him out completely.
Our song was “Jamie All Over” by Mayday Parade. If you were to ask me how this became our song, I don’t completely remember, but anytime I hear it, I think of him. I couldn’t listen to Mayday Parade for about two years because it just made me feel off. I carried this anger around with me for years, having felt betrayed by someone I felt loved me. We would lie in bed and he would say such sweet things to me, the sweetest being, “You’ve been to a place in my heart that no one else has.” I remember this very clearly, too. I remember our first real kiss in the rain under a street lamp, and my fiancé and I run past this street lamp whenever we go running in our neighborhood.
For three years I did not talk to M. A year after we broke up, I went to Paris on a class trip with my French class. He didn’t know the exact date of my departure, but he left roses and a letter on my doorstep. He knew this information because he kept in touch with my aunt (this is how we met, through her). My mother found these and surprisingly informed me and did not throw them away (she found him in my bedroom once, hidden in my closet; this prompted a huge fight between us and resulted in her kicking me out for two months and making me live with my dad). I told her I did not care and that she should just toss them. Even his best friend, who had sung happy birthday to me at Tantalus, would ask why I refused to talk to him. I ignored these inquiries. Eventually even my mother would ask why I was being so cold. She knew that he was my…uh…”first,” so she would always tell me to be a little more forgiving, at least hear what he has to say. I was always surprised that she was suddenly so understanding, but I would ignore her advice. After three years, on my eighteenth birthday, I finally thanked him for wishing me a happy birthday. He continued to wish me a happy birthday every year despite my coldness.
By my eighteenth birthday, I had already been dating my now-fiancé. At eighteen, I finally found it in my heart to forgive him. We reconnected and have been in touch regularly since my eighteenth birthday. Shortly before my birthday, he had begun dating someone with whom I was acquainted. I did not particularly care for her (though I did not dislike her) and I didn’t know how she would influence or affect M. M’s father was an alcoholic and occasional drug user, and after witnessing his father’s behavior as a child, he swore he would never touch drugs or alcohol. I treasured that about M. Shortly after we began talking again, I found out that he not only drank and did drugs (ecstasy, weed, small stuff), but he also began selling ecstasy. I was upset and asked him why he had done a complete 180. He didn’t have an answer for me, but I knew it was because his girlfriend was into raves and did drugs and drank a lot. I’ve always resented her a bit for this, though we are on friendly terms.
There were very low points in both of our relationships. We used each other in bad ways. When I was upset with my boyfriend, I would find solace in M, and him in me when he and his girlfriend would hit very rough patches. We never cheated on our significant others with each other, but our exchanges would have stung them. M and his girlfriend both confided in me; I’m not sure why she confided in me to begin with, knowing well that we had dated before. She always made him out to be the villain, but I knew he never was. When they would fight, he would pour his heart out to me about how different she and I were and how he loved her but something just wasn’t the same. I never really had anything constructive to say – I was just there to listen. Once when I had probably the biggest fight with my boyfriend over his behavior with another woman, I called M sobbing from work, hiding in a stairwell, asking him if I was ugly, if I was stupid, if I was crazy. He was on his way to pick his girlfriend up but stopped what he was doing to talk to me and said she could wait, that I was important. Later that week he took me to another one of my favorite spots on the island and later to Bubbies for dessert. A few weeks later, I called him for cocaine because that’s just how absolutely shitty I was feeling. At first he was adamant about not selling me any because he didn’t want me to get caught up in it and be responsible for ruining my life. I assured him I’d be fine, and it took a lot of convincing. I did it that once and never again, as it wasn’t as amazing as everyone had made it out to be. The way that I had resented his girlfriend for getting him involved with drugs, he resented my boyfriend for making me feel so low that I felt I needed drugs. M always had a job on top of selling drugs, but did it just to earn extra money. Shortly after this episode he stopped selling altogether, which made me extremely happy.
There were times M would apologize profusely for what he did to me, but over the years I had obviously grown and began to realize that I had overreacted and hurt him with my silence. We talked about this many times and have never been able to agree upon whose fault it was. Once at a rave, my boyfriend and I bumped into M and his girlfriend, and my boyfriend’s best friend greeted M warmly, and we both looked at the both of them asking how they knew each other. They had known each other since high school, through video games. M and my fiancé get along well to this day.
There were times that we admitted to each other that we would always deeply care for one another. Once, one of my professors said that when you truly love someone, you never stop loving them. You may not love them romantically, but there is a love that you harbor even after the relationship is completely dead. I understood exactly what she meant because that’s how I felt about M then, and that’s how I feel now. Even my fiancé has said the same thing. Prior to me, he had two other long-term girlfriends, one for about six years and the other for almost five. He said that although he no longer romantically loves them and although he cannot stand his most recent ex-girlfriend, there is still a part of him that cares about them. That has never upset me, because I still hold that type of love for M in my heart. At fifteen I never said I loved him because I didn’t know what love was. The older I got, however, and the more I realized that my feelings for M resembled the feelings I cultivated for my fiancé, the more I accepted that he was my first love at the tender age of fifteen, though I did not realize it then.
He congratulated me on my engagement even though he doesn’t think my fiancé “deserves” me after all of the things my fiancé and I have had to endure. He has a new girlfriend now, and today, I finally remembered to ask one of my best friends about his new girlfriend since they had worked together. I asked her if she’s nice, and I mean, genuinely good-hearted and nice. She said that she is, and that she’s very hard-working and will not take advantage of M the way I always fear women will because he’s kind and quite the hopeless romantic. I don’t think he’d imagine that I’d prod a friend about his new girlfriend, but there is a part of me that feels very protective of him even though he is in no way mine anymore. Even if my friend had come back with a negative answer about his new girlfriend, what would I have done with that information anyway? I just wanted to know that she was as nice as she seems.
I do think that my fiancé and professor are correct. If you truly love someone, I do not think the love fades. The romantic, passionate love may fade, but there will always be a remnant of warmth and kindness left behind if the love was real. I no longer hear “Jamie All Over” and get butterflies in my stomach, but I am reminded of the times M sang it for me, the time we spent together in my bed talking about nothing, the time he picked me up and spun me under the bright Mokuleia stars, and that he loved me when I was fifteen, exceedingly “emo,” chubby, and had braces. There were times I had sent him provocative photos of myself recently (maybe about two years ago or so), twenty pounds lighter, better hair, no braces, bigger hipster glasses. I did it just to tease him (and because this was a time I was extremely upset with my boyfriend over his behavior with another woman), but in the back of my head I still remembered that he loved me when I was awkward and fifteen and that the new and improved me didn’t mean much to him – he always saw me as sarcastic and funny with biting wit, kind when I wanted to be.
I saw Mayday Parade in concert once in 2013, with my fiancé. M wasn’t able to attend because he was working, but he made one request: “When they play our song, record it for me.” I did that, and he thanked me for the video. We no longer have those uncomfortably deep conversations because we are happy where we are. He’s actually engaged to his new girlfriend – well, fiancée – and they live together and have a cat, just as my fiancé and I live together with our cat and two dogs.
Why am I thinking about this? Earlier today he sent me a Snapchat in which “Jamie All Over” was blaring in the background. In my usual Internet speak, I simply replied “All the feels. Doushite?” “Doushite” means “why” in Japanese. He said it came up when he put his phone on shuffle, and that it’s still our “anthem.” I’m an emotional bulldozer and I’m reckless, and I like to prod at deep memories and feelings that people keep tucked away. I did this with him on and off for years while we were both in serious relationships, well knowing that had his girlfriend looked through his phone, it would have erupted and been very bad for all of us. A part of me, the rotten part, kind of hoped she would find them and see how unhappy she had been making him. To me knowledge, that never happened. When he mentioned “Jamie All Over” still being our “anthem” after over seven years, the jolt in the wicked part of my brain wanted to keep prodding, knowing that he still cares about me and would talk if I asked or said the right things. But as I had asked about his girlfriend earlier in the day, feeling that I needed to protect him, I also need to protect him from the person I know I can be when I want to be. I’m sure she doesn’t know I exist, but I don’t want her to know I exist. I think that’s what also made our relationship so odd the last time — his girlfriend then knew me, we had many mutual friends, and we saw each other regularly. I was “the other woman” sometimes during his relationship, if you want to put it in the most vile terms, and I don’t want to be like that at all this time. I am happy, and I want everything to work for him because he deserves it. I suppose it’s just nice to know he still keeps some of us tucked away in the back of his head, too.