Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tainted Love

I was quite pleased that I had secured a very comfortable window seat on my Southwest flight back to Los Angeles from Portland. As I situated myself into my seat for the flight, my new seat-mates arrived rather quickly: a sweet young girl with glasses asked if the 2 seats next to me were available, and I said "Go ahead!". She and a guy sat down next to me. It wasn't until after awhile that I realized they were a couple. They appeared to be a very young couple, in my opinion. They had the appearance of highschoolers. At one point when I glanced over at them, I saw the young man looking at the young woman while she spoke, and the WAY he was looking at her, was so beautiful. That deep look of love, that only the eyes can convey. I didn't know who they were, I didn't know their names or ages, but I could tell that he loved her. Just from the way he looked at her. It wasn't until the end of the flight, that I told them that they were cute, and asked how old they were, and was told they were both 19 years old.

As the flight progressed, I looked over at them, and saw they had fallen asleep leaned against each other, with their hands grasped together. It was completely adorable. I felt compelled to take photos, of this beautiful young love, but I didn't want to violate their privacy. But I did it anyway. If for any reason, to prove to myself that this still existed. Maybe not for me anymore, but at least for the experience of other people. It made me reminisce about my first love....

It was junior year of high school, year 2000, and my history teacher told our class that we had to get into groups of 5 to create a rather large project. I don't remember all of what we had to do, but it was a lot of work that required library research and creating a poster board. Once I had been assigned to my group, we all kind of blew off the assignment, until the night before it was due, then panic ensued. Being a highly studious student in honors classes, I contacted ALL of my group members, seeing who could get together to complete this important homework project. Only ONE person actually gave a damn besides me, and that person became my first epic love, and boyfriend. When we had originally been assigned to this group, we barely noticed each other. I don't think we were remotely interested or attracted to each other....until we ended up together in the library, frantically trying to complete the huge group assignment so we wouldn't fail ourselves and everyone else in the group that didn't do any work (haha). It was somewhere in a random library isle, that the first sparks of love and interest lit up my heart. It was clear the feeling was mutual. We didn't look anything like we were "right" for each other, but fate had other plans. We fell for each other, and he ended up asking me to the prom. Then after a month or two, our mutual friends confronted us, to ask if we were boyfriend and girlfriend, and I just replied "Yes" without hesitation, which startled me a little that I had blurted that out, but that apparently made it official. I had an official boyfriend, finally, at the end of my junior year of high school. I had almost given up hope that I would ever find love in my school career. lol

There is so much I could write to attempt to cover 3.5 years of our relationship. But it was a very slow progression into intimacy. He was very patient. I had a promise ring from my mother, to remain a virgin until I was at least 18, and I kept that promise, and didn't lose it until 4 months after my 18th birthday, when my boyfriend was getting antsy after waiting for 11 months into our relationship to proposition me. In hindsight, I was very grateful for this series of events, because I can honestly say, that I lost my virginity to a man that I loved, who treated me well, and made me feel special and loved. 

But, it didn't have a happy ending. Thus, the reason for this blog. As I gazed upon the so-in-love young couple on the airplane next to me, reminding me of the beauty and innocence of new first love, I actually got a little sad. Because I realized that because I've been broken-hearted several times since my first boyfriend, that I'm tainted. I can't even look at a man that I'm interested in now, without thinking: "How and when will you hurt me?". It's not pleasant, nor healthy. It's a fear-based reality. But how can I change or avoid that? There is no fixing history.

That beautiful first love boyfriend proposed to me all romantically in front of his family at a picturesque setting in front of a pond at a museum, with their cameras ready. Then, just 2 months later, without warning, he pulled the rug out from under me. He broke up with me, on the night of my 21st birthday. And I was devastated. I can't think of any other time in my life that I have been more devastated than that. I wanted to die. I was in dark place for quite a while. I had no idea what to do, or what had gone wrong, or what I'd done wrong. I would have had a 4.0 college GPA had that not happened to me. My senior year after I got dumped, my grades dropped across the board. I would have tears streaming down my face in the middle of class. I couldn't focus. I could barely function. In the days after the breakup, I had a few panic attacks, couldn't eat, sleep, or drive properly. My perception of love, had been forever tainted. It didn't last. I would have taken a bullet for that guy. I would have jumped in front of a speeding car for that guy if I had to. I loved him that much. And in the end, I felt tossed aside like a piece of trash. That's how I remember it. And no amount of time, can fix that.
14 years later, it's still hard for me to think about. It's an experience that I wouldn't wish on anybody.

But...this evening on the airplane, getting to view first hand how beautiful, sweet, cute, and innocent this new love was, was refreshing, and made me miss that. If only I could go back to that place where I wasn't tainted anymore, and experience that love again. I suppose only time will tell, if I will ever get to be loved again.

~Mandelyn Reese