I longed for my happily-ever-after ending. At the age of 18, that was the only thing that I was missing—at least that’s what my 18-year-old self thought. I had been accepted at a good enough college and my best friend was going with me.
It was all falling into place for me; I was just missing him, that Mr. Perfect, that Mr. Right, the one relationship to complete my perfect after-high school ending. I was young, naïve, and had read too many romance stories than should be allowed.
Before I knew it, the first semester of college was over and done—I was still single. I was proud of getting through my first semester, but I didn’t feel like I had really accomplished much. Classes were easy and I had already had my major figured out, but I still felt like something was missing.
The reality that I was on my own hadn’t set in. I had taken that leap from adolescence to adulthood and I didn’t feel that “Aha!” moment. Even living on my own for a couple of months did nothing to boost my sense of independence and adulthood. I was at a loss, so I decided to take a leave of absence from school, much to my friend’s disappointment.
Through the first few months after winter break, I was back at home with no job, no school, nothing. I became depressed and felt like that 50-year-old still at her parents’ with nothing to show for herself. That was when I met him.
Through one of her friends, my mom made an acquaintance with whom she developed a friendship with. This friendship led us on a road trip to the snowy tops of Oregon. They had business plans they wanted to set into motion, and so me and my siblings were all dragged on a 14-hour drive in a car that belonged in the local junkyard. Much to my surprise, we made it safe and sound, but none of us were looking forward to staying in a complete stranger’s house. “Great, and how long are we going to be here?” I thought to myself.
It turned out that we were there for a whole month. I couldn’t exactly complain, because that was where I met Jared. Oh, he was definitely it, the one I had waited for my whole entirely short 18 years of life. I wasn’t a complete, innocent never-been-kissed virgin. I had my first kiss, but it just wasn’t with the man I expected to have love stories written about.
Jared was a little older than me. He didn’t graduate from high school and had no prospect of going to college. But I figured that, in time, I could rehabilitate him, make him want to do more for himself and prove that I wasn’t investing unnecessary time in someone that was completely wrong for me.
It was five magical months for me. I compartmentalized all the bad memories and centralized on the good ones. Those good memories consisted of my “first time,” the ultimate thing that I would only ever give to “the one.”
Trust me, I look back at this time and shake my head in embarrassment. I had read one too many historical romances and I never even realized how over-the-top and far from reality my ideas of love were.
Nonetheless, I was willing to give Jared a chance to live up to my expectations. Although the relationship hardly played out like I thought it would, it did set me up for what really did end up becoming the romance of a lifetime, only the man was much, much older.