07 January 2012

On Old Loves and New Perspectives

The other day, in a fit of nostaliga, I went back and read the online journal of someone from a past life: Vingt.

Vingt was a name he assigned himself, or some alter ego, after I broke up with him. The relationship in my mind seems so terribly important now, as if we were some star that shined too brightly and burned out too quickly. We met when I was 16 and he was 17 and everything just seemed so important, which is maybe why I remember it as being some great affair. Of course, based off the timeline of his blog (as I erased mine in a fit of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), the whole thing from start to finish lasted a little over a month. I knew it hadn't lasted long but for some reason I was surprised at how brief it all really was.

In an era before Facebook, kids communicated via AIM or long phone calls, and forget Facebook stalking. We'd met at a mutual friend's birthday dinner and hit it off over something silly, like Rocko's Modern Life or my Spongebob Squarepants car seat covers (which, until this evening I had also conveniently forgotten). It took a little research on our parts to reconnect after that night, but we did, and quickly we were spending hours talking to each other.

Vingt and I had really similar senses of humor and were into much of the same things, and he had the sensitive and witty personality that I had always wanted to find in a guy. Soon we were falling asleep on the phone with each other and I was breaking curfew to spend just a few extra minutes with him. We went to a local concert together where he danced and I laughed, and to this day I'm convinced the most romantic thing I've ever done for someone was re-enacting a line from one of his favorite songs. It all seems sort of embarrassing to talk about but the haze of adolescence makes everything feel so heightened and exciting. The "warm-fuzzies" and the butterflies and the seeming eternity before that first kiss, the hours-long conversations about life and college and how he didn't think he believed in love - I remember it all with the dreamy lens of a Sofia Coppola film.

And then suddenly it came to a crashing halt. Well, more like I slammed on the brakes. The reasons why remain unknown to me. There was the Homecoming incident: he lived far away, so that when he took me to my Homecoming dance, my mom allowed him to stay on the pull-out bed intended for my then step-brother. Only he ended up falling asleep in my room watching a movie. (Which, to reiterate to my doubting mother, was a complete accident and no, nothing funny happened, we just changed rooms because a certain younger brother insisted on using the computer in the den. And also, sorry to my dad who has possibly never heard this story.) My mom found out and her disappointment was one of the worst I'd experienced, and the guilt ate me alive for days. I think I must have partially associated that guilt with Vingt, but we had also grown incredibly close in that month long period, and considering my patterns of behavior in every relationship after, I had real fears of emotional intimacy. Everything felt really perfect and amazing - and so, I had to stop it.

I broke up with him the only way a scared 16-year-old girl with no real life experience knows how: e-mail. And then I blocked his screenname and tried a number of times to ignore his pleading phone calls. When I finally did talk to him, he was upset and looking for answers, of which I had none, and I tried to convince him that I was just a really terrible person and that he should probably just hate me and move on. I couldn't talk to him after that. I wondered why I ever screwed something so good up by dating him, because really, we would have made great friends and now I couldn't handle even that.

So in the grand scheme of things, my relationship with Vingt was a drop in the bucket. I've obviously since had longer and more meaningful relationships but for some reason, that is the one I remember the fondest. Probably because we only dated long enough to have memories of warm-fuzzies and butterflies and not fighting or dramatics that come later in relationships. It's interesting that in one of his posts after the breakup, he wrote, "In five or ten years none of this will matter to you; maybe it won't matter to me either." Obviously I can't speak for him, but for me, it does still matter. Not in the way that it did then, but in the way that this relationship encapsulated everything about being a teenager for me.

Everyone has moments in their lives that they can look back at with the benefit of time and perspective and see that there was more than one path available to take. That year was full of paths for me to take and they could have all taken me completely different places than where I ended up. It goes without saying that it is impossible to know. Our lives are a series of chain reactions that, once set in motion, are literally impossible to change. I think that where I ended up, ultimately, is a good place, though there were definitely some rocky steps along the way. So, even though I do regret hurting him at the time, maybe in the end it was better that it ended when it did.

It's fun, in a way, to look back at those times because even though everything felt so complicated and high-stakes, it was also thrilling and awkward and wonderful. It sort of epitomizes all the great things about being young and having no idea what you're doing or how to handle things but trying anyway. It's also good to read over the post-breakup blogs: he was a master at writing in puzzles and metaphors that, at the time, I didn't understand. Having now experienced something similar, I understand, and it breaks my heart. It hurts to have evidence of that time you hurt someone - but welcome to the 21st century, I guess.

Mainly though, I'm just a nostalgic person by nature. And nostalgia is a silly thing.


  1. love it!


  2. So crazy, I had a similar experience when I was young(er) and feel the same way about it. It epitomized my inability to handle emotional intimacy at the time and the hard lessons learned that make me more experienced now. Way to hit the nail on the head, yet again. :)


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