My mother has always said that I’m old at heart. She’s never meant this in an insulting way, but just more so as a way of acknowledging my little differences, my nuances. For instance, it was always preferential to me to spend my time quietly in solitude with a book, even as a small child. I always attached myself to a single friend at each school I attended (maybe two on a year I was feeling adventurous and popular). Aside from the fact that as things changed in my friendships, I had no other friend my age to fall back on for support, I think it was a fairly effective system for a young me. I excelled in school and was free to lavish my books and daydreams with unceasing attention. Things really did not change for me much in this sense until the end of my freshman and beginning of sophomore year in high school. I found myself writing more than reading and rather quickly I found three friends instead of the standard one. In retrospect, freshman year was by a long-shot the most difficult for me. This solitude that I was so accustomed to wasn’t normal in this new setting. Whereas I may have attended dances in middle school completely alone, you just didn’t do that in high school. By that I mean I attended without a friend, not necessarily without a date. I ate lunch alone not because I couldn’t have found friends to sit with, but more because this was my normal and I hadn’t yet adapted to the new. So. Solitude and quiet just weren’t going to work in high school.
By my sophomore year in high school I had branched out some. I ran cross country with a close friend with whom I bonded over bridge laps downtown in the sweltering heat. I was in a school play that fostered a couple of loose acquaintances, and so on. I was doing rather well for myself in that sense. I didn’t eat lunch alone as often, though on some days I did when I truly needed the space. However, the biggest change that year was a relationship. Again, it’s vital to note that I was perfectly content on my own. While I’d had close friends, I had never met a person with whom I didn’t want some space from pretty frequently or vice versa. This may sound silly, but I, for a short while, was convinced that I would live alone and never take enough of an interest in someone to marry. I was perfectly fine with that because I knew I could do it and still be happy and fulfilled. However, sometimes things change. Sometimes things change quickly, and sometimes they change in a gradual way so that you don’t notice the change until it’s already taken place. I believe that’s how my story goes.
Naturally, I’d had crushes before, but always of the sweaty palms and weak-kneed variety. It was never anything genuine. It was never the type of thing which left me feeling only calm, reassured, and without a single flutter of anxiety. But there’s always a game changer, isn’t there? It would seem perfectly appropriate that my mother calls me old because I experienced my game changer extraordinarily early in life. 16. Out of nowhere, though really I’d known him for over a year, there he was and gradually it made more and more sense. I’d given myself criteria for what I wanted in a relationship (nothing outlandish, just patience, understanding, etc.) to hold myself to if I ever did find myself in a relationship so that I had some standards to hold myself to, but if I had given myself criteria for a first interaction it would have been spot on.
After our mutual friend departed early one evening leaving us alone to finish a movie on my couch, we wandered into my small kitchen to make the first of many late night cups of tea together. We discussed Hitler and propaganda techniques. I loaned him a book which he later confessed to have read in a hurried frenzy to impress me. We made our first solo movie date plans. That was really that. From then on we spoke every day, we saw each other every weekend with exceptions few and far between, and everything makes more sense now that we’re together. To ease any concerns that I’m “that” girl in the relationship, there are a few pretty exceptional characteristics. We’re both old souls. Since we’ve been together I’ve made more friendships outside of our relationship than I have ever had in my entire life. We push each other to be better versions of ourselves both alone and together. Everything makes more sense. Everything still makes more sense after more than 2 years. This is precisely why I can be judge-y about my friends’ boyfriends. Once you’ve seen how happy you should be in the right relationship, you don’t want any less for your closest friends.
So there you go. This is for everyone that asks (and a lot of people do), every friend who wonders why I get frustrated when her and her boyfriend are always annoyed with each other, and why even as college and distance approach us quickly I still feel calm and assured. We’re staying together. It wasn’t a real question for either of us, even with the distance from New York to London. That being said, please don’t ask me if we’re really going to try long distance. Don’t tell me how rare it is to stay with a high school boyfriend or drag any other discouraging statistics to view. I’m focusing on the positive because right now, that’s all we need. This pending distance, with the right kind of love, is simply a little jump across a pond. Nothing more.