Learning Experience

Depends on how you define a relationship. Emotional connection? Didn’t really have one. Physical compatibility? Wouldn’t know; we never progressed past holding hands. Friendship? Not sure even that applies. We’ll chalk this one up to a learning experi

“Everyone has an ex”? No, no really. Not everyone is so lucky in love. Or should it be unlucky? Seems a little presumptuous to me, but luckily, or unluckily enough, I do have an ex. Though, even that depends on how you define a relationship. Emotional connection? Didn’t really have one. Physical compatibility? Wouldn’t know; we never progressed past holding hands. Friendship? Not sure even that applies. We’ll chalk this one up to a learning experience.
My sophomore year of high school James joined my small class, bumping the roster up to sixteen. He had recently moved from Southern to Northern California, wasn’t Adventist, and as a result was different from anyone my sheltered self had heretofore met. Chance had him next to me during homeroom, and that was enough to spark two months of inept flirting. His newness was the appeal. That, and he listened to me talk at him. He never gave much back, but I wrote it off as shyness. After the annual week long Biology camping trip later in the quarter, apparently it was just a matter of time before one of us found enough courage to ask the other out. James found his first.
However, this brief burst of courage was his only burst of courage. He asked me out over text message. I shouldn’t judge too harshly, though, because I wasn’t any better. I now know better than to let a relationship begin, and hinge on, text message conversation. The next six months were some of the most awkward I ever hope to experience. I thought the quietness James exhibited at school was a reaction to being the new kid in a school that was so small the whole high school fit on a single school bus. But, no, he really was shy enough to go to dinner with me but spend the majority of the evening in the bathroom throwing up because of his nerves. He gave himself an ulcer. The only time he could bring himself to have a full conversation with me was during our nightly text conversations. We would text for hours, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what we talked about. Certainly nothing of any importance. We were too shy to bring up anything as interesting as our personal beliefs, family gossip, or heaven forbid feelings. The upside of this was we never fought.
It all boils down to having nothing in common. Grades were important to me. I took notes in class. Grades meant little to James. He drew obscene pictures in class. I was close to my family. James couldn’t stand his. I followed the rules. James smoked pot. I cared about him. He didn’t know how to show he cared. I decided it would be easier to end things rather than wait any longer.
After worrying over it all day, and nearly killing my family with my stressed out learner’s permit driving, I called him and broke it off. Not terribly nice to do it over the phone, but I was too chicken to do anything else. I offered the cliche “It’s not you, it’s me” bit even though I knew I was lying to him. I told him I wasn’t mature enough for a relationship, which was true, but I used it as an excuse, not because I really believed it. Hanging up the phone, the relief was instantaneous. It was made all the sweeter knowing that there would be no awkwardness at school the next day because he’d dropped out three weeks previous.
In the months following our breakup the thing that stuck with me most was my bitterness over having never been kissed despite a six month relationship. That stuck with me for a while.
A friend asked me about my relationship history a few months ago. It’d been forever since I’d thought about James, so I looked him up on Facebook. He’s married now. His profile picture is of him kissing his wife, and I’m a little ashamed to admit that the first thing I could do was wonder how long it was into their relationship before they first kissed. The second thing I thought was how glad I am that I’m not her.

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