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A MOMENT OF CLARITY ‌ First Love

Keeping up with the ex over the years

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May has only just begun, but it's already Xmas for me. My one big ex, Jeff, and I have just finalized plans to see our favorite band, Tool, live in all of their arty, math-rock glory next month in Jacksonville. Considering our first date consisted of listening to Tool in his dorm room while sipping vodka and powdered Gatorade, it seems an appropriate full-circle precursor to my exit to graduate school in Virginia this fall.

Jeff and I started dating during my senior year of high school, and we were each other's obligatory first love. I'd never had a serious boyfriend before and was bowled over by the overwhelming awesomeness of it all. We had great chemistry, similar academic interests and goals, and soon eased into the soft, fluffy cloud that is coupledom. We were so damn good together that we bravely chose to remain an item despite the fact that he was going to school in Florida, and I was headed to Charleston for four years.

We stayed together for two and a half years, with a few minor breaks along the way. Looking back, I'm not even sure why we ended it. I have a fuzzy recollection in which Jeff came to visit Charleston for a weekend, and when he left, we were broken up. I was flippant about it. There weren't tears or long discussions. I just wanted some time off. My mother continues to ask what the hell I was thinking. Jeff and I have remained close friends, and talk daily. But lately, I've been agreeing with Mama.

The guy is a winner from every angle. When we met, he was a National Merit Scholar with an incredible work ethic at the University of Florida and the kindest man I'd ever met. It didn't hurt that he's hot like Marion Square on a summer afternoon and has only gotten exponentially more handsome since we met.

Once, for Easter, he constructed a basket from an empty six-pack and filled the plastic eggs with mini Twizzlers and dirty jokes. I prefer this sort of thing to diamond-chip jewelry and bad poetry. He was just the guy to get it and follow through and never stopped telling me how deeply he felt for me.

After being together for a couple of years, we reached that comfortable state in which both partners (i.e. me) gain 15 pounds and begin to spend weekends eating cold pizza while wearing pajamas and spacing out in front of reruns of Cheaters. That "I'm in love, and can therefore conquer the world" bravado was gone. We slept too much. We got lazy and boring and found ourselves bickering over nothing, especially at parties and in front of our mutual friends. All of the things that made us a fun couple were quickly dissipating.

It was my fault. I'd begun to take him for granted and was in no position to do so. The kid never dropped the ball, and I'm still constantly amazed at the effort and enthusiasm he put into our relationship. I'm kicking myself for being so careless with such a gift of a man. One thing I don't regret, though, is that when we broke up, Jeff and I promised each other that we'd never speak of our future hook-ups or relationships. We've stuck to it, and I think that vow has been the key to our steadfast friendship.

I can't say that I don't think about getting back together one day, but I think it's just the memories talking. We'll go to our concert this summer, have a wonderful time, and ignore any "ex weirdness" that might remain.

I must keep reminding myself that my first love, despite my occasional urges to get back in the saddle, should remain just that. I'm not ready to have my last love just yet.

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