**I hesitate to publish this because what I’ve written below is raw, unfiltered, uncensored, and my heart completely laid bare. These are very real feelings, memories, and emotions that risk being ridiculed and/or misconstrued.
Spring is my favorite time of year. I’ve always loved Spring because it means that new life is emerging, the colors are so vibrant, and the evenings are perfect for walking. The Valentine’s Day Teacher and I walked almost every evening. When I first met him, he was living in a duplex near a fabulous walking trail and I was beyond excited when he told me that the house he was buying was in the same neighborhood. A typical evening with The Teacher consisted of dinner, maybe a little bit of kissing thrown in there (!!!!!!), and then we’d hit the trail. He had a dog that he’d rescued as a puppy and so the three of us would walk until she had sniffed every inch of that trail and got her bluff in with the other neighborhood dogs. We hadn’t been dating long when The Teacher and my mom had to take a trip to Jefferson City for work. He needed someone to watch his dog so I volunteered. I sent him a picture of his dog curled up in bed with me that night before falling asleep and he said something about missing us both and that he would see me in less than 24 hours. And then he said, “Look at me counting down the hours till I see you again….” I smiled because I knew he missed me and it had only been a day.
I think we had been dating, or at least “talking” for a little over a month when I was driving to his house one afternoon. I was kind of frustrated, a little bit upset because The Teacher hadn’t even tried to do anything more than kiss me. I remember thinking that there was absolutely no way he liked me because he had been able to resist me for this long so it must have meant that I wasn’t appealing to him and that he didn’t find me attractive. I had never been in a relationship that didn’t require a foundation built on anything other than the physical so I was totally thrown for a loop by his explanation as to why he hadn’t given in to that side of our relationship. I remember telling him how I felt and he just looked at me and very simply said, “But Rachel, I want to get to know you.” I think I just stared at him, I was speechless, because if the truth be told, I didn’t want to be in another relationship that didn’t have a solid foundation built on something other than sex. It wasn’t that he didn’t want every part of me. It was that he wanted to know ME in ways differently than any other man had ever cared to know me. For the first time in my dating life, I didn’t feel like a slave to a relationship and the duties that had been given to me prior to knowing him. He valued my heart, my feelings, and my mind enough to protect them through telling me no. And then when the timing was right, it was more than just another encounter with a man. For the sake of keeping that moment reserved for only us, I won’t say any thing more except that he never once turned those special moments in to a chore, a requirement, or an expectation. He was truly a gentleman in every sense of the word.
He was the exception to every rule I had grown accustomed to before him. He broke all those rules and showed me that you never fall in love the same way twice and that together, we’d make our own set of “rules” and our love was custom built for us. He taught me a valuable lesson, one that I didn’t realize I had learned until I had been without him for a few months……He showed me that when two people love, it doesn’t matter if you like all the same things or even have the same hobbies or past times. I highly doubt I would have ever developed a passion for remote control airplanes, but he probably wouldn’t have ever wanted to scrapbook with me, either. And that’s okay. We didn’t have to be carbon copies of each other so long as we shared a common goal. He didn’t have to love horses and cows as much as I did because I can promise you, I was never going to be a Trekkie or learn all the words to those ridiculous 90’s rap songs that he could quote word for word as we painted his house. What was important was that I knew all I had to do was look at him and say, “Hey, let’s go to Scronic,” (as he called it) and off we’d go on a little afternoon outing, not a worry in the world cause we were together. A simple kind of love.
I could sit here and try to explain the reasons why I drove away that afternoon in June. I could pull my heart out from underneath the cuff of my sleeve just a little bit more, exposing my intentions and areas that would cause everything to make sense. But I won’t because in the deepest part of my heart, I hold on to this tiny little fragment of hope that one day I can give that explanation to the person to whom it would matter the most.