In the beginning I worked with Jake at Steinbauers Market. It was my first job and he and his mother and brother worked there. I remember him "threatening" one of my first boyfriends (If you hurt her I'll kick your ass sort of thing) when I was in
7th grade, hmmm 1991 maybe). Because of that and so many other moments I always feel protected when I think of Jake.
I don't think there has ever been a time that I haven't fiercely loved him, even if I loved him all wrong.

I went to Jake's junior prom with him, and that was the beginning of he and I becoming an "us". Shortly after that I went on a school trip to France. There was another guy on that trip and I pushed thoughts of Jake thousands of miles away in Ohio aside. This guy would turn into other guy and he would be a real ass. But at the time I was just a 15 year old girl acting like I had everything under control. Upon returning from France (1995) I broke it off with other guy and Jake and I picked right back up. We laughed all the time, until our stomachs cramped from the effort. We would snort while laughing and we spent as much time together as we were able to.
Months passed, things happened and I broke it off with Jake to go back to other guy just in time for my junior prom, Jake's senior (1996). Jake and I didn't really have anything to say to each other again for a very long time.

We would run into each other on and off again because we still had mutual friends. But my callous throwing away of our friendship, which was inevitably thrown out with our dating relationship, kept a very tall, wide, and firm brick wall planted between us. Things happened to us both during that time, as it always will. There were so many times that I thought, "I should tell Jake about this" or I would pick up the phone to call. I never did.
A casual friend and mutual acquaintance got bored one summer and decided to weave a web of serious deception. Jake and I were caught in the middle. Many ugly emails flew back and forth, Jake and I were no longer in the same universe as friendly.
My life felt less because I didn't have his friendship, I had lost the other side of all of our inside jokes (achoo! Bless you! being only the tip of our inside joke repertoire).
It wasn't until 2005 that it began to change. My sister called me one night and said that she found Jake on MySpace (I'll pause for some of you to roll your eyes).
Alaina happened to be at my apartment (and she and Jake had dated and been friends as well) and so we looked him up and messaged him. I found out later it was with great reluctance that he accepted my friend request.
Through a series of inane surveys and postings Jake and I slowly rebuilt a friendship. In January of 2006 I went home to Clyde for our friend Leroy's surprise 30th birthday party (wait, was it 30? I didn't think Leroy was that much older than me...). I was shaking I was so nervous, you would have thought we were going on a date. Jake would be there.
I walked in the fire house, I saw him. I received the most thorough hug I had ever had. Just like that, we were laughing until our stomachs cramped and snorting again.

Since then Jake and I have not only reconnected our friendship, we've deepened it exponentially. He lives in northern Ohio and I'm in Cincinnati, but email and Facebook are keeping us connected. I just got back from seeing him this past weekend actually. We could only have dinner before Alaina and I went to see No Doubt at Blossom, but what a dinner it was.

Jake has taught me just how dangerous and harmful it is to be so callous and casual with the hearts people have entrusted to you. I acted cruelly and swiftly with no regard to how my decisions and actions would impact other people. When confronted with my own behavior I went into attack mode and made it about him and did not accept responsibility for my role in things. I've learned that things aren't as black and white as I would want them to be.
When I talk to Jake about things, I feel once again so protected by him. He and I share a unique history of deep love and deep anger/distrust. That isn't a combination I have with anyone else. He has some of my secrets and I have some of his. Jake has taught me to tread carefully on the hearts of others and that everyday the words we say, the secrets we keep or reveal, the actions we take are creating a history with people we're in a relationship with and that history makes us who we are.


Pete said...

I don't have much to say, just to say I love these!

Anonymous said...

I'm humbled. Seriously.

I'm going to print this out and keep it, because it really did touch me.

But I'm going to make a point to hold onto this part for a while:

"I don't think there has ever been a time that I haven't fiercely loved him, even if I loved him all wrong."

A couple of years ago, I would have considered that a trite, condescending platitude. After all these long talks though, I consider it a treasure to keep close to my heart.

Thank you.