I don't remember my first memory of John. He said that we got in a fight and there may have been hair pulling involved. I have no idea, I don't remember it.
The farthest back, pre-dating memory I have is band camp, marching by each other and generally goofing off together. I also remember playing Mario Kart with him in his room while I was hanging out at his house waiting to decorate the barn for a Halloween party. I didn't win Mario Kart, but that was the first night I got all these funny feelings in my stomach about him. This was all the late summer/fall of 1996, my senior year of high school.
I was dating another guy at the time, he was a real ass. We were cool at first but then he decided I was a little chunky for him, then my hair was to short, then that I was just very ugly. Other guy never really hesitated to tell me these things, I never really hesitated to believe him.
John was my friend first. I would talk to him about other guy and he would be all protective and sweet about it. Naturally when other guy and I broke up, it was John that I turned to and John that I began dating.
We were typically teenagers dating, it was very good or very riddled with angst depending on the day. I had a great deal of baggage relationally and very little esteem for myself. I made that John's problem, and he handled it very well.
The first time John told me he loved me I was standing in a public phone booth in Biarritz France and he was sitting on his bed in Clyde Ohio. Looking back at it now, that distance seems very analogous to us. We loved each other (and in some ways still do) very deeply, but seem to always be separated by this distance that just can't be breached. (It's all very movie of the week tragic I know, but I promise I'm getting to the point.)
John and I weathered graduation, international travel (a trip on which other guy went as well I might point out), and me going across the state to college. I didn't want to spend time with anyone but him, I was obsessive. Looking back it wasn't really as obsessive as it felt, but I was a 18 year old girl that thought she knew so much more than she really did.
We broke up in February of 2000, not because we didn't love each other. Looking back it seems that we loved each other very much, we just weren't on the same side of the world.
A little over 2 months later his mom was murdered. All I wanted to do the night I found out was go to his house, but I didn't know what my place was. I saw him the next day and we picked up where we left off.
That whole time was so much turmoil, grief, and just raw emotion. We were back together again, and this time I wanted it to be for keeps.
We were together until February of 2002. (February was apparently not a great month for our relationship)
It doesn't much matter who broke up with who but we were again, deeply in love on what seemed like opposite sides of the world. We were both young, but people have been married younger and it was fine. All I know is that I wanted to marry him, move in and have his babies. But it was over.
We went silent for 2 years.
In those two years I got saved and learned so much more about myself then I ever would have had John and I stayed together. I discovered that I had based my entire identity in being his girlfriend. He never ever once asked me to do that, I chose to do it based out of my baggage and my relational damages. But I would have never stopped had we not broken up and gone silent. In 2004 I was preparing to move to Cincinnati after clearly hearing God tell me to move. One month before I left, John emailed me and we began speaking again.
In the next two years we spoke very frequently, weekly and sometimes daily. We dissected our relationship and talked about the silent years and what went on with us then. It was very dramatic, but in a refreshing sort of way.
Neither John nor I behaved perfectly and I still have some relational steamer trunks that I keep trying to drag around with me. But we're friends and still speak. I have loved John for 13 years. The love has changed as much as knowing him has changed me.
I learned what I will and will not accept in a relationship. I learned that sometimes, no matter how deeply you love someone you just can not be with that person. I learned how to forgive without feeling the need to get even. I learned to keep my mouth shut and not make things worse by mouthing off. I learned that some secrets should not be kept. I learned that I should be more careful before I accept other peoples secrets with the promise not to tell someone that I love so much. (It was not my secret to keep, they should have never asked me to). Loving John taught me more about unconditional love than most things in my life. When we broke up the last time the instinct of most people I knew was to bad mouth him and tear him down. But I wouldn't allow it. Because while he made mistakes, I made huge mistakes too. Loving him taught me to want the best for people even if what was best for them wasn't what I so desperately wanted. It taught me to loosen my grip on people and things. In retrospect, I see God very much training me up to see that His will (at the time I would have called it the universe or fate) is so much larger than my will.
If John and I had stayed together I would have never been in that church Christmas Eve 2002. I may have never moved to Cincinnati and done all the things I'm doing now that I love so much. Maybe I would have, a few years later and farther down the line. I don't know.
What I do know, is that loving John changed the course of my life for the better. I am a better person for knowing him and loving him,