I've always been really picky when it comes to relationships. That and also, I don't catch feelings easily. I always have crushes on the people who are the hardest to get. I like challenges. I swore to myself after getting ghosted again by another guy that I was going to "DATE JALEN HURTS". I was making a joke of my un-ending singleness, but I was kinda serious. (Still kind of am. I mean who wouldn't date Jalen????? Sign me up)
Here's the story of the relationship that gave me my first experience in love, but not quite my first heartbreak. But what it taught me was the best part.
We matched on Bumble. He was playing football at the university my parents met, in my hometown. We had a few messages before we went to snap and he was immediately into me. Immediately not shy to voice his opinion about how he liked me. I was getting ready to go to my first out of state interview in Fort Worth. We really hit it off! He was fun, sweet, compassionate. We started texting when I got back from the interview, and he asked to FaceTime me to tell me about it. We did, and it was immediate chemistry. It was super late at night. I had no makeup on. I know, daring.
We casually talked about how we both sang, and he asked me if I would just randomly sing right then so he could hear. I said, "I don't know, you might fall in love with me if I do that!"
His face was PRICELESS. He said, "That's my line. Literally."
The next week, we FaceTime again, and he told me he used me as a cover-up for a girl not to hit on him at a party.
"I'm sorry..." he said. "Someone asked me what I was doing after the party and I said I had a girlfriend... and I said her name was Sarah Stevens."
It was the CUTEST thing in the whole world. Our FaceTimes picked up to every day. We could talk for hours, and it never ended. The only thing that stopped us from talking was falling asleep, or absolutely needing to go. I barely got sleep. I loved it. We sometimes FaceTimed for four hours a day. When I was driving, walking to class, doing homework, falling asleep. We'd hang up and text each other about how into each other we were. It was sappy, romantic, but we're both that type.
The first date.Giphy
We agreed that I would meet him in my hometown where he lived. I said it was my hometowns date, like the Bachelor. He literally held back saying he loved me. He hadn't even met me yet.
I had him pick me up in the parking lot next to the building where my parents met. (That's important later).
We got dinner, and I immediately noticed how chill and relaxed he was. Then his arms. (Wide receivers can get it, y'all).
I said something about them and under his breath, he immediately said something about me that was SO smooth and caught me completely off-guard I forgot was I was talking about. He told me what it was we were talking about and said "I'm locked in." A guy who actually listens... I mean come on. I've definitely been on dates where they forget everything you said by the next one.
We went bowling, played mini golf, and let the record show that I beat him in the first game of bowling. We took our first picture in a photobooth and I was fully expecting our first kiss to be in there but he didn't go for it. Arcade and a few icees later, he took me back to my car.
The first kiss.
When we got back to my car, he opened my door for me and we talked about something random for a minute until we hugged goodbye. Actually, about the Adidas shoes I had coming in the mail that I referred to as "dinosaurs" due to their big size, and 90's era clunkiness.
We're standing between two cars as we hug goodbye. Next to the building where my parents met.
"Can I kiss you?"
That's all I remember. The next thing I know we're making out in a parking lot.
I get in my car and he texts me saying it was the best kiss he'd ever had.
"Definitely fireworks", he says.
We facetimed non-stop. We were the type that could talk for hours and forget what we meant to talk about in the first place. People would ask me details about his life, and I would say, "I'm not sure, I meant to ask, but all 3 hours we spent on our date we just talked about everything else!".
He picked me up from my work for our second date for lunch at Cheesecake Factory and says as he opens the door for me on the phone with his friend that he's with his girlfriend. Hadn't asked me yet, but we were pretty much already there. If anything, we were there from the second week we were facetiming, which was even before our first date.
We talk about travel at Cheesecake. I start to ask a question, and before I'm done he immediately says strongly, "Yes", and cracks up laughing. He was funny. We quickly found out our senses of humor went together. Except, he definitely makes more dad jokes. Sorry, babe, but when you made knock knock jokes I was only laughing because you were!!
But the best part of the Cheesecake date is when he asks the question out of the blue: "So what rooftop bar are we going to?"
I was shocked. We had never talked about rooftop bars, but they were my favorite thing in the world. I think I blushed from the inside out.
He was the type of person that knew what he wanted in life. I got to be on the list, if not at the top. He was picky, but so was I. It made our decision to be with each other feel that much more electric.
An hour after our Cheesecake date was over, I won tickets to a Thunder game- actually opening night! I immediately called him, and he drove back to OKC and he came to my work. I gave him a tour after most everyone went home, and we went to our little suite to ourselves in the Riverwind Lounge of Chesapeake. There were several other tickets but no one else showed up. We obviously took advantage of that! The suite next to us had one of his high school friends from Texas, who now plays for the Colorado Rockies. He took the cutest pics of us with the stadium behind us! Those were our screensavers for pretty much the remainder of the relationship.
He met several members of my family, and they absolutely loved them. My mom hadn't met him, but she shed actual tears when she explained our relationship to her parents, "because he seems so perfect for you" she said. I agreed!
We had our second bowling and laser tag date and at this point, we were fully comfortable with each other. Our chemistry was insane. We just clicked. We were perfect.
"When I talk to you, I feel like I do on the field", he said. As in, when the crowd is wild, the energy is high, you catch the ball, you sprint at a level that ridiculously fast, your focus is lasered in on the goal, and you make it.
I felt that.
Maybe the best compliment I'll ever receive.
The official start.Giphy
After one of his doctor's appointments in the city, I picked him up and took him to Chick-fil-a, and then my favorite rooftop bar at night. The skyline of the city was in a really good eyeline of it, and we had a view from both the bar and where we parked. We had discussions as we walked in about how fast he really could run. I actually didn't know.
"22 miles per hour".
I really don't know enough about athletics to know that was humanly possible so to say I was shook was an understatement.
"So, you're like a superhero."
I told him earlier that in front of the hotel of the rooftop bar we were going to, there is this really gorgeous area that would be perfect for a kiss. So we did.
We go inside and step into the elevator.
The door closes, and without saying a word, we pounce.
We made out in an elevator until floor 7 of the Ambassador Hotel.
We step out onto the rooftop bar and there is the most horrible live music I've ever heard in my life. I was like, "Babe. We have to go to the balcony. It's an emergency!!!!"
He didn't think she was as bad as I did. I thought I was going to die. He thought it was funny.
I open his card he gave me that asked me the question I knew was coming because when he's tired he can't keep a secret. We became official.
Hours later we make it back to the parking lot with his car and laugh about random, stupid things. Trying to make a handshake and failing because I can't stop laughing. Him saying he should have been my biggest fear for Halloween - a giant spoon. (It's a long story). I laughed the hardest I have in months, and as he left so did he. He asked me to roll down my window and I rolled down the back instead of mine and he. died.
You can't buy the chemistry we had. Truly. You can't buy being able to laugh together for 2 hours in a parking lot when you haven't slept in a really long time and you should be passed out at home. Some people are worth making sacrifices for, including losing sleep.
Things happened the week we became official that were really difficult. Things that would be hard on any relationship, but especially a new one. On top of that, there were circumstances that blocked us from having a conversation over the phone, and we had our break up over snap. We understood where each other were coming from at first, but I quickly had more hurt about it than a snap conversation could really give closure to. I made assumptions that probably weren't true. I lashed out, and hurt him. We were over almost as fast as we started.
But he made it clear that even if I wanted, a relationship at that time wasn't possible. It wasn't either of our faults, the circumstances just weren't there to allow us to be together. I was angrier and hurt by it than I knew how to process. Specifically, because I felt like I would be able to change the situation we were in if I was given the chance, and I didn't feel like I was given a choice. He made the decision without me, that I should pursue my dreams instead of him. Especially without a phone or in-person conversation, this took about a week to process but I quickly moved on and decided that I clearly couldn't change the situation as much as I wanted to. As much as I wanted what we had, he had made decisions that wouldn't allow that to be possible for me. As much as he said he wanted to stay friends, these decisions caused too much hurt in me to know how to handle, and the chance of us staying friends quickly dissolved.
But that doesn't mean I don't care, because I still do.
Knowing that someone is going through a hard time when you love them is hard enough. That in itself easily brought me to tears. But knowing you are not able to help is worse. Knowing someone else gets to help is devastating. Knowing that the person you love made that decision is more hurtful than a lot of people realize.
The lack of a real conversation caused wounds that will, unfortunately, be between us until we decide to converse about it again. But that time is over.
But if you were to tell me that I would have to experience this much pain to get what we had, I would have said yes. It was a whirlwind, but it was real. He was truly the best and every moment we had, even though it only spanned over a few weeks, was the greatest. There are so many more memories we have together that mean the world to me and could make up a whole book.
What it taught me.
The takeaways from this experience are that flying can cause falls, but it's worth it to fly. We wouldn't have experienced the pain of a break up if we chose to remain on the ground, but we decided to pursue what we felt. We truly fell in love and unfortunately, I loved him more than I think he understood. He didn't understand how willing I was to make any situation work. I truly wanted to love him in the good times and bad, even if the bad times came sooner than the good.
It taught me that the next season my life will be fully dedicated to pursuing my goals. I always am, but this experience gave me a new perspective.
He truly wasn't the type to waste time. Once he knew how he felt about me he didn't waste any time at all, and without that, we wouldn't have experienced the feelings of a full relationship in a matter of a few weeks. Those weeks were critical though because the same life circumstances would have quickly put a stop to whatever we had anyway. Therefore, I'm glad we risked it. I'm glad we experienced it.
You can't waste time, even if the failure will break your heart. You have to go after it now. Each day you have to make the decision to create what you want. Don't put it off.
You will fail, you will fall, you will make mistakes, you won't be perfect.
But maturity is not the lack of mistakes. It's not perfection.
Maturity is the ability to make mistakes that cause failure, which causes pain and correct them. Learn from them. Grow from them.
None of us are perfect, and we shouldn't expect others to. We shouldn't "cancel" people when they do things differently than we would. We shouldn't frame people as "immature" when they are still growing.
We should trust until a person gives a reason not to. We should believe what good people say even when it's hard, but we should also expect respect. Sometimes explanations are that respect.
Yes, you will fall. Yes, you will perhaps become so hurt you break into a million pieces that have to be picked up.
I learned I'm not the type to like to live on the ground. I like the speed, I like the challenge, I like the height. I like the risk, I liked falling in love fast. Because in reality, we were just following our instincts. Even if it devastates you for a time, the flight is worth it.
It taught me how I want to be treated, and how it feels when someone is truly passionate about you and respects you. Finding that is tough, and a lot of people settle. The type of connection we had wasn't something you could force, nor expect. We used the word effortless a lot. It was!
One of the last things he said to me is to keep chasing my dreams. Although he's not in my life, I'll always have love for him. I think of him most when I'm working hard. When I'm getting closer to the completion of my goals. I do that because I truly felt he understood and believed in my goals perhaps more than anyone else ever has. Even though I want to pursue my goals for myself, I also want to accomplish them for him. He made sacrifices in his own life to give me the space to do that. I didn't like it, the way it played out wasn't fair to me, and I fought back until I embarrassed myself and hurt others. I didn't like how he had come to conclusions without maybe understanding how the decision would break my heart. But at the end of the day, I believe he made his decision because he believed in my dreams. I can't waste his decision and I have to make sure that whether we are pursuing each other or not, I keep my dreams at the forefront and I make sure I work to accomplish them each and every day. I wished he wouldn't have pushed me out during this time because I truly saw him as someone to always be alongside me as we both pursued what we wanted. However, you can't change the past, and regardless of our status' in each other's life, I want him to look at mine and see me do the things I talked about. A lot of times people improve their lives after a break-up because of a feeling of "revenge". However, the motivation I have is a choice to believe we truly were in love and it happened for a reason. I needed the experience with him to push me to not waste time on my dreams, and the lack of him in my life makes me want to fill it with all the plans he knows I have the ability to accomplish.
Thank you, I love you, next.