Funny things happen when you get engaged. (Or maybe it's just me.) In addition to having surges of fear, you sort of find yourself cataloging your life up to this point. You think back on all the past loves that led you to this one. Sometimes you smile at the memories. Sometimes you cringe. Sometimes you thank the heavens for the lessons.
As I've thought through my modest list of relationships, one guy clearly stands out to me as my favorite mis-match. He's the perfect combination of timing and learning and endearment.
I met Patric (no k) when I was 29. I had just started my current job, had just come out of a failed attempt to rekindle things with my college boyfriend, and was itching to have a carefree, hot summer romance.
Patric was only 26, the coworker of my best friend's husband, and a month away from moving to New York City. He asked me out after we spent a day at the beach with my best friend's family. I told him I wasn't sure if it was a good idea—he was leaving the state in 30 days, after all. But he was cute and charming and it was summertime. So I caved.
On our first date, I got a nice dose of Patric's dramatic side. I made a joke about how my voice sounds like a muppet's and he reached across the table, taking my hand (my best friend likes to think that he pressed one finger against my lips and shushed me, but I don't think that's how it went) and said in a sultry, whispery voice, "Don't talk like that." That moment pretty much set the tone for the next few months. Intensity. Theatrics. And of course, entertainment. I don't think I've ever written so much poetry as I did that summer.
His NY move date got pushed by several weeks, which meant we had more time to cultivate our tumultuous relationship. I saw Patric cry in Target. I laughed hysterically with him over inside jokes we made. I found myself, on more than one occasion, feeling like the only girl in the room—or the universe. He knew how to cast a spell, that boy.
There were plenty of things I didn't like about him, but knowing I might only have him for a short time prompted me to try to appreciate every moment. What a great lesson that was.
Before he left, I gave him a wooden box filled with pictures and poems and other things to remember me by. I decoupaged a page from the Thomas Guide with my neighborhood on it so he could think of me across the U.S. whenever he saw it.
When he told me he couldn't handle the long distance, I was heartbroken. Even though, on some level I knew it was for the best. He wasn't the right fit.
The wooden box appeared on my doorstep a couple years ago with one poem still inside it. I appreciated that he returned it. I even called to thank him, but never heard back. Lack of response adds to his drama. I've stalked him a little on Facebook and I'm glad to see he's happily married now. I'm also glad that he gave me that one summer.