I have been thinking a lot lately about the relationships with men and boys I have had throughout my life. Though I haven't had many long-term relationships, I've had a share that have brought me to a certain knowledge about what being involved means. And I also realize that many of my relationships throughout life have been on a long-distance scale, which is something I have to conclude is easier for me. I can get to know someone quite personally without the face-to-face confrontation. And I suppose, that's also the reason those various said relationships failed. The excitement at being with someone is replaced by the excitement of receiving that next letter or card, or in today's world, email. And as the letters, calls, or emails dwindle, so does the passion that stood in the relationship. Without the presence, the need wears thinner until it is suddenly gone. And without the repurcusions of a face-to-face break-up, it falls away much easier.
Throughout junior high I had a couple boys I "dated". Dated being a very loose term, as we held hands in the hallway at school and he walked me to my classes. This was the point I had my first experience with a long-term relationship. His name was Justin and I had known him when he lived in Laramie, but he had moved to Florida. It was then that we began writing and discovering what it meant to be 'in love' through our letters. I can still remember awaiting his next card in the mailbox as I would scurry to my bedroom and sit there opening it up as if it were a treasure. But, kids will be kids, and eventually no more cards came. And that was that.
Towards the end of junior high and my transition year into highschool, I dated Mark. We spent hours upon hours through the summer at the baseball park. During my time with him, I learned about kissing and touching and sexual tension. And I learned about what boys can do to a girl's self-esteem when all they really wanted all along was one thing: sex.
In high school I was one of the kids from a great mix of friends, but never fit into any one group. I never got close to anyone, really, though I would consider my DECA and Newspaper clubs as having the most influence over me during this time. I never really went to parties or movies or out with the crowd. But even so, I came to be involved with a guy from the tech school, Tracey. He was older and my parents disapproved of him. The reason was because he was a techer, and far too old (19) for their little (16) girl. I snuck around to see Tracey, and spent hours helping him fix up his cool car. We had a good time together, and were even allowed to go roller-skating with a group on ocassion. My parents didn't know about all the other time I spent with him. Our relationship fizzled as spring turned to summer and he went back home to Montana after his semester.
When I was in my last year of high school, I was involved in another long-distance relationship with Pablo. He didn't live so very far, and we managed to see each other fairly regularly when I took the bus to meet my girlfriend, who was his cousin. When I got my own car, I was even allowed to go there to visit. I don't think my parents understood how romantically involved we were. They knew I was planning to marry him and be with him forever, but it was just puppy love in their eyes. We kept in touch via phone and mail, hanging onto those few in-life meetings we had in between. Pablo could barely speak English, but at that time my Spanish was quite fluent and we communicated easily. We joked that ours was the language of love. Until I suddenly realized the language of love couldn't exist without us speaking a common language, and eventually he gave up and moved back to Mexico.
In my first year of college I still lived in Laramie, but moved into an apartment with 3 other girls. I met Rob as he lay in the middle of the main street through town in the middle of the night. My girlfriends and I were headed home after a night at the bar and I had been drinking. I called out to the driver to "Stop. Is that guy laying there dead?" And we stopped and helped him up and brought him home (funny, he was also a techer), but I never went home that night. We stayed and partied some more with Rob and his friends (yes, he was also drunk), and I even stayed with him the next day when everyone finally went their own ways. We managed to spend a lot of time together in the coming weeks and I couldn't help but fall for him even though I knew he would be leaving Laramie after his exams from tech school. He went home to Connecticut, but him and I stayed in touch for the better part of 4 years. When I moved to New York as a nanny (yes, knowing he would be close to me again), we even managed to get together, and our phone calls lasted hundreds of hours each month. We had a really free and easy relationship. Nothing permanent, nothing promised, but quite intense all the same. Rob joined the Coast Guard and after I got pregnant with Kaeden, Rob found the girl he would marry, and we didn't keep in touch after that.
Rick was my next involvement. He was someone I knew from high school as he fawned after me even back then. When I had moved back to Laramie after having gone to New York and then California, Rick came into where I worked and asked me out. He was recently divorced with two kids, and though I wasn't interested in him as more than a friend, I still agreed to go out. I think my self-esteem must have been at an all-time low, because he used his charm and managed to become a permanent fixture in my life. So permanent, that when I moved out of my prarents home, he helped me move, but never left. This was the beginning of realizing I was trapped in some kind of hell. He was mean and demanding and abusive and managed to estarnge me from my family and friends. I have no idea why I didn't leave him, other than I was scared and didn't have enough courage to go. And that's when I discovered I was pregnant. Our relationship was very rocky and at one time in my pregnancy he tried to kill my baby by jumping on my stomach. I went to the hospital and was checked in to keep track of contractions as well as administer fluids. Though I didn't allow him back into our home after that, we still saw each other. When Kaeden was born, he wasn't present, but came into and out of our lives for a short period after his birth. When Kaeden was an infant he threw a box of canned vegetables on the bed, hitting Kaeden, and from that moment on it was the end of my life with Rick. I moved away from Laramie to protect myself and my baby, and though he stalked us and there were a few incidents of terror, he was never again a part of our lives.
And then, fast forward 3 years. The computer age. ICQ. And the meeting of my next and final involvement, Erwin. I met Eagle on the first night after installing a modem on my new second-hand computer. He was from Holland. I was doing a school unit on Holland. He was called Eagle. I had recently hit an eagle with my truck and damaged the front window, as well as received a scar on my wrist. It was fate. We chatted off and on for a couple months, until suddenly something switched and he became my life. Once our relationship started to evolve, there was no stopping us. Another long-distance relationship. Yet, this one had me more thn head-over-heels. There was something extra, something special which drove me into a state of complete happiness. As we chatted, and eventually shared phone calls (lots of them) and spent fortunes in postage, my dutch prince was coming for a visit. And from that first visit, we've never since been apart (other than via the ocean which separated us). When Kaeden and I moved to Holland in 200o to join our family together, it was all I had dreamed of. And when Jari came along a year later, our little family was complete. We married knowing that it was the end to all future relationships, and I was completely content with this scenario.
There have been ups and downs throughout my life with Erwin, but the ups far outweigh the downs. As far as men are concerned, he is someone I can always count on, he is supportive in my desires and needs, and he gives me a sense of security. I still get those butterfly tingles when I see him walking towards me and our life together has become comfortable and gratifying. Sometimes I need to stand back, when the going gets tough, and remember my past, the people I have been involved with, and the present that is mine. Because no matter how difficult things seem to be, we still have each other, and we vowed to love one another no matter what problems come to stand in our way. And love him, I do. Ours is no longer a long-distance relationship easy to back out of. We stand face to face every day of our lives, and need to look deeper into each other's eyes, find the click and make it flow. I'm glad there is no easy way out. I want to stand strong with my husband by my side, knowing we've worked hard individually to make this complete together. But that's what we need to do. We need to work harder.
My last and final relationship. He's exactly what I wanted, he's exactly what I got. And he's someone I see in my future, sharing travel and grandkids and cups of coffee on a sunny terrace. He is, after all these years, still my everything.