For the record, we were not high school sweethearts.
Physical Education (PE) was never my favorite class. In my senior year, I found it that much more unbearable because it took place when my friends ate lunch. I skipped the class one or two more times more than I should have. The teacher made me make up the whole semester the spring before graduation.
When I attended my first “Early Morning Gym,” another PE delinquent stood outside the door with a cup of coffee. I’d never seen him before, which wasn’t unusual since it was a large school. He looked kind of… mean in his t-shirt, flannel, and jeans. He reminded me of Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. I avoided staring at him while we waited for the PE teacher to show up.
Later that week, a friend in my art class introduced me to PE guy, Stu. Turns out he wasn’t as mean as he looked. We began hanging out during Early Morning Gym. During the weight unit, he and I talked until the teacher came by, and then we’d half-heartedly do a few reps. During the tennis unit, we smoked cigarettes on the court (this was a long time ago). He made me laugh and in no time, we’d begun hanging out during our free periods and even after school.
Although Stu wasn’t my type, I found myself sort of liking him. I tried to flirt, which may have been more annoying than alluring. But he seemed to like my best friend more than me. For prom weekend, the three of us held our own anti-prom at a hotel in the Hamptons. I’d hoped he’d ask me out then, but he didn’t.
Just as we graduated, a boy who was a year older, and more my type (a musician), asked me out. That summer, I worked at a local traveling carnival with my PE friend while I dated my boyfriend.
At the end of the summer, my boyfriend started his new college in New Orleans. Stu and I attended local colleges. We were both trying to be better students than we’d been in high school. Most of our friends had gone away to college, and we wound up relying on one another more. He set up a second desk in his bedroom so I could study with him. I kept dating the boyfriend long distance, but I found myself more connected with PE friend than my boyfriend.
When my boyfriend transferred to his third school and wound up living near me, I realized he wasn’t The One. He drank too much and was tight with money except when it came to transferring colleges and purchasing music equipment. One time, my boyfriend surprised me by visiting the music store where I worked. Stu was already there. I told my boyfriend that nothing was going on between Stu and me, which was true. But I was lying to him and myself about how my feelings were changing. While my boyfriend made me frustrated and brought out the worst in me, Stu made me laugh and brought out the best in me.
Just about a year after the relationship started, I broke up with my boyfriend. I’d hoped Stu liked me too, so I looked for signs. His ex-girlfriend asked him out. He said no. Good sign. But if he was looking for good signs from me, I kept blowing them. He brought me a teddy bear from the carnival with a heart. I blurted that I didn’t like stuffed animals with hearts. Stupid me. We got tickets to see a concert. I left the bag with the tickets at home. Stupider me.
A week later on a perfect July night, we took a walk in the park while a band played music in the background. Stu told me he liked me as more than a friend. I told him I felt the same way. He kissed me. The band stop playing and the audience applauded.
Stu became my boyfriend.
The next morning, flowers arrived at my house. I went from elation to disappointment. The flowers were from my ex. When he called, I had to tell him that six weeks after we’d broken up, I’d already moved on with the guy he’d been threatened by all that time. A couple of years later, the three of us wound up at the same university. Ex and I attended the same history class. No hard feelings.
Stu and I did well in school. He majored in Biology and then earned
his PhD in Biology. Thanks to him, I was able to pass Calculus. Even though he’s my husband, we kept our friendship. He still makes me laugh. 25 years after we met, I feel lucky to wake up next to him every morning, and share a home and two children with him.
Sometimes we bring up that first year. Stu admits to not being that interested in me in the beginning, but he won’t say when his feelings changed. I can’t pinpoint a specific time either. But at some point it happened for both of us.
And I’m glad it did.
Keep up to date with all Theresa's writing adventures, by reading her blog, Theresa's Tales of Teaching Tribulation and Typing Teen Texts.