Love Words

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My first love blossomed in the form of words hurriedly written on a torn-out piece of notepaper with shaggy edges. This paper was then folded multiple times into a paper football and launched with a skilled flick of my finger from my seventh grade side of the parochial classroom to the eighth grade side near the desk of Bryan, a blond boy with a middle part, glasses, and a faint mustache. Written on this paper were such romantic greetings and closings as, “Hi. How are you?” and “TTYL.” I think our love lasted the entire last month of school with promises of frequent pen pal exchanges since I was staying with my dad for the summer. However, Bryan as muse quickly fizzled due to my booked schedule of swimming, softball playing, and slumber parties.

The depth of my writing advanced a smidgen in my teen years to include nearly developed paragraphs describing my boredom in dissecting a splayed frog or conjugating French verbs and then concluding with a subject-less phrase such as “Miss you,” which seemed to accurately encompass the angst of teenage love in regards to physical separation. These notes were passed from my hand to his during anticipated rendevous in the hallways.

For what my immature early twenties’ mind thought was “the one,” I wrote a letter of introduction on an extra long yellow legal pad after a chance meeting with a friend’s boyfriend’s friend. To my surprise, he replied to said letter with three-quarters of a page of minuscule young adult male writing on notebook paper, narrow ruled at that. These long-distance words were the gateway to seven tumultuous years of written words due to his affiliation with the navy. When, at last, we were able to coexist without the written word, the spoken words failed us. Thus, our mutual agreement to toss without regret, or any emotion for that matter, the scads of correspondence expressing our forever love should have been a sure sign of the words written on the wall, doomed relationship.

With the advent of the computer, inevitably came meetings via instant, or rather dial-up, communication. A two-week trial stint on a dating site in my thirties proved a lesson in what I truly longed for in a man, beautiful grammar. Instead, what I found were numerous misspellings or wrong word choices, red flags for an English teacher seeking love. The brief introductions of name and occupation written in fragments were overlooked, but when the written conversation continued with all lower-case letters and absence of any form of ending punctuation, I considered singles groups at churches.

As my probationary period online was coming to a close, an e-mail appeared in my inbox with an actual subject in the heading. After opening this message, I think I whimpered at the presence of a salutation with my name spelled correctly. Furthermore, commas appeared after introductory phrases of more than three words. This author at the other end of this cyber connection seemed to be too good to be true, so I immediately replied. The next two days were spent constantly monitoring my e-mail, not an easy task considering my modem speed. To my delight, second-order writing ensued on my screen, and on the third day, a date was solidified. Six months later this sexy scribe handed me a card on our wedding eve with the message, “Love is a verb.” Twelve years, two children, and a double mastectomy later, he remains my muse, and we have yet to have a shortage of love words for each other.

When I Thought It Was Love

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Sometimes I wish I could take back experiences I had in the past. For example, my first shot at love. My first love (or so I thought) was an affair I wish I had never engaged. I may not remember the fights, but I still remember the bruises. I cannot think of the arguments, but I still have the scars. What he left me with I remembered the most is a valuable lesson, not to trust a man simply because of a  reunion with an ex boyfriend.
It is finally happening, my first love is coming back to me, or so I thought. I would have never dreamed I could have had the chance to see him again. Of course I have always wanted to; I mean he was my first after all. He seems so different yet still the same boy from three years ago. My ex was short, dark skinned, with an overly large nose. His lips at the top had the perfect crease in the middle. That smile of his used to always make me forget any of my worries, and it was now approaching me. I am sure I could never forget that walk; he strutted with such cockiness it won me over. Now looking back I realized he was never my type, yet as I stand waiting for him my smile does not fade.
My ex-lover walks up and hugs me as if I just arose from the dead. I have planned out this date perfectly as I always do. Our date was an outing to the theater; we watched a movie about a man on a building of some sort. As I was sitting next to him, I could smell the scent of that expensive cologne I used to love so much. Throughout the show I had many flashbacks of times like this. Did I honestly miss being around him? At the beginning I do believe I missed his company. That was before I learned what he actually was.
Now it has been four months since my reuniting with my ex. At first all was going well until he found out about “The Instance.” This particular instance was just three months before we made up our relationship. “The Instance,” is what I call the short period of time me and the close friend of my ex were on a romantic level with each other. I often regret this because it was at first only out of spite. My ex and his friend Dee were extremely close once upon a time. That was until Dee finally found his way to me. I admit that I was tempted when I saw that he cut his locks off. One part of a male I adore is a low fade haircut. It did not take long for me and Dee to have relations. Looking back the instance was the biggest regret of my life. I regret the instance that turned a boy I thought I loved into someone I never knew.
My innocent mind thought the worst was over, but there would be more to come. After my ex learned about me and Dee, our relationship decreased dramatically. He told me he would never trust me again. Every other day we were arguing about what I did. I knew it was wrong, but I did not know it would drive him insane. If I had known, I would have ended it sooner. Still till this day I cannot believe I did not see the signs.
For a long time, I could not admit to anyone I was in an abusive relationship. The first time I experienced his abusive side was on the Fourth of July. We were at a barbeque together, and as usual we were arguing about “The Instance.” Note that I was always crying throughout our relationship due to our arguments. This time I just wanted to ignore him and have a good holiday. He made sure for the rest of our time being together that I would not have joy if he did not authorize it. My natural reflex was just to walk away from the argument, that was until he pushed me. After he laid hands on me, he proceeded to threaten me. Take to heart I was not a weak individual, but I did once love him. That is the only reason I did not involve anyone else in my predicament. My family would have raised hell on him if they ever found out about his abuse. By raise hell I mean he would not be in the living world, he would be dead. I never told them; I just waited for my chance to escape the madness.
The fighting between us went on about four whole months without anyone having a clue of what was happening. Now I saw what it was like to be hurt by someone who claimed to love me. Then I came to the conclusion that this was not love at all. People who claim to love each other would never put their loved one in a position like this. Since my ex was such a danger to me, himself, and my family, I just waited for the day to be out of this position. Soon enough the day came where we had an argument about a case of him cheating. I personally was happy he cheated because that led him to believe I was hurt and needed time to myself. Honestly I was not hurt at all. My ex and I broke up, and this might have been the happiest day of my life. This was the day that he finally left my bed, my home, and most of all my life. My dark cloud had finally moved past me.
After we broke up, my life was going well. My job was going well so I bought all the necessities for college. On one particular day, my ex called trying to make his way back into my life. I was not willing to hear him out at that moment; I had a flashback. This flashback showcased like it was yesterday. There I am sitting on the couch while he comes to join me. I tell him “No I will not give you any more money.” That is when he hits me so hard on the side of my face that my ear started to ring. In a flash I am back to reality. What I had to endure over the past five months was not love, and I learned the hard way. I told him to never call me again, then I hung up the phone.
An important lesson was learned from reuniting with my ex was that people change. Once upon a time I had this guy whom I thought was sweet, who turned out to be anything but sweet. Where did that guy go, the one who I was just so happy to see a couple of months ago? He was gone with the wind, never to be seen again. Now I cannot bring myself to trust a man. Since I cannot trust a man I do not feel the need to look for one. There is no point in finding a spouse anymore, or merely having a new relationship. The fact is I used to think I knew what love felt like. Now it has been a year and a half since the last time I saw my ex’s face. I am currently still not ready to commit to anyone. This is fine with me because at least now I know what love does not feel like which was this.
By Taraya Turner
An Individualist . . . The Weird Girl on Campus