I have been married for over thirteen years now. I am thirty-three and much of the angst and emotional freewheeling of my young adulthood is settled and controlled (I'm still a basket case, just a slightly better-controlled basket case). And yet nothing has the ability to bring back the memories of that time like reminders of old boyfriends - or guys I wanted to be my boyfriends but were 100% not interested in me. In the past few months, I have seen one ex-boyfriend in person, and a photograph of possibly the most painful unrequited crush I ever had.
To see the ex after thirteen years was shocking. Gads, he was handsome - a clever, winking, potential heart-breaker. It was a first-sight type thing for both of us and we dated for over a year. I sabotaged it, as I was prone to doing at that time in my life. We both said and didn't say important things, broke up and got back together, broke up and got together, and then I re-met Daniel and I had to nail the coffin shut. Even though I did everything as honorably as I could, I always felt lingering guilt. Daniel and I got engaged very quickly (we only dated for two weeks) and I always felt like that looked bad. See, old emotions come back so quickly. I ended up dropping in at a church activity for the ward he's in now and saw him there. I don't know that he saw me; I made no effort to talk to him.
And then there was the crush. Oh, the crush. I finally understood why it was called a crush, as I was crushed by it. There were several instances in my dating years when I was really pathetic (oh, Trisha, remember Mr. Limpett?), but this was only mildly pathetic, as Mr. SuperCrush was very kind to me. My friends and I had a code name for him - Sam Brown - as we saw him all the time at the Institute of Religion at Mt. SAC and couldn't very well discuss him by his real name. It was one of those impossible matches that you see in the movies, but this was real life. Oh, Sam. He was about as Mormon as Mormon could get - wanted ten kids, avoided caffeinated drinks, thought PG movies were too racy, no style. I was an 18-year-old purple-haired anarchist Mormon, prone to internal spiritual philosophizing, full of justifications and limit-pushing (BYU's rejection of me was probably one of their better choices - for starters, my essay was hideous). But gads, I wanted him to like me. He was so darned nice, and so darned happy, and just radiated goodness. I was a moth to his flame. I made a few very tentative attempts to go on group dates with him, but whether by fate or by his tactful awareness they never quite happened. He's married now, with seven or so kids. I'm sure he's an awesome Dad.
Now for the gooey part. I'm glad for all of these experiences, because they led me to Dan. Only a man of his monumental patience could put up with me. And we have two rockin' kids and are still open to adding more through foster care (if we can ever get into a 4-bedroom house without bankrupting ourselves). And he's secretly as crazy as me and lets me talk him into loony schemes like flying to Phoenix to buy a rusty old Suburban to run on vegetable oil, and someday escaping to the country to build a house out of straw bales, and our plan to raft the entire length of the Grand Canyon as a family, and to let the kids learn Spanish and Mandarin when they're young and not go the traditional compulsory education route... and i think that's enough sap. My point is that it's awesome to look back at past phases and not feel any regrets, to feel that everything shook out for the best. To be very content with how everything has gone so far.