With Valentines day coming up, I'm feeling a little inspired to finally write out our "love story." I would hate to try to do this ten years from now and not remember, so I figure I might as well while the memories are still somewhat fresh. It's basically a long (so long, like 4-parts long) love note to John because while our story isn't a fairy tale by any means, things like Valentines Day always serve as a great reminder to me just how lucky I am. I got to marry my best friend. And it was a long time in the making and something that almost didn't happen, so sometimes I'm just overwhelmed with this full grateful heart that things turned out the way they did.
I've been really hesitant to do this for a lot of reasons though..quite honestly, because it makes me look bad. Very bad. John was such a good friend to me and stuck around for over three years while I was an asshole to him and dated all the wrong people. People who would take me away from him. None of my old boyfriends were cool with me having a guy best friend (duh) so sometimes for months at a time I would ignore my friendship with John. Sometimes when he needed me, I wasn't there. And then once I inevitably left whatever relationship I was in, I'd always come back to John like I hadn't done anything wrong but I knew I wasn't ever being the "best friend" that I claimed to be. And I also hate talking about this because I was just an idiot and spent the first years of our friendship being a bit boy-crazy, while the person I loved and cared about the most was right there in front of me. It makes me sick when I think about it now, but I also know it wasn't our time then. We both knew from the beginning that something was there between us, but it would take years before we were able to even admit to ourselves let alone to each other. I know that things happen in the order they were supposed to, so I try not to be so hard on myself about it, but I still am.
But yeah, I was an asshole. I'm very, very lucky that John ended up in my life at all. I don't think this is the place to air all the reasons why though so this is going to be the happier, cleaner version of our story. And of course I'm going to leave out some of the more personal things. We were, and both still are kind of complicated people. We've each been through some things and we met at a time in our life when we were just...complicated. The first few years of our friendship were messy. And our relationship was always somewhat complicated. This isn't going to be the traditional "we went on a date and fell in love and it was magical and then lived happily-ever-after" kind of story. Maybe we're living "happily-ever-after" now, or a version of it, but it definitely didn't start out that way.
So anyways, let me back up for a second: I've mentioned it before (like a million times, I know) but John and I went to the same high school, but I was a year older. I knew "of him" but we never met face-to-face, never had a class together, had no real friends in common or anything. I knew of him because I was friends with his older brother. I wouldn't say we were close friends or anything, but we had a lot of common friends so we ended up in a lot of the same social situations. We were friends by association really. But I never met John through him. And my younger sister was in Johns grade, but they didn't really run in the same circle so I never bumped into John because of her either. What I think is kind of cute and funny now though is that my Senior year of high school and Johns Junior year he played football and I cheered (the only year we would have been on the same team), and I like to think that we crossed paths at some point. But both of us were in pretty serious (for high school) relationships so it's not like we would have met and fallen in love or anything. I don't even know if we would have been friends back then. But I like to imagine there's a picture out there in the world somewhere that we're both in from a game or something. (I'd pay about a million bucks for it too.)
Ok, now back to July 2008 - I was in a real crazy place in my life. You could absolutely call me a mess/unstable/crazy/lost, whatever. It was bad. I was 20 years old and had just moved back home from Chicago where I failed at my second attempt at college. (Never talked about this here before but I went to fashion school...will seem totally random if you didn't know me back then, but it's a different story for another time.) Without going into all the details, I was just super unhealthy (mentally/physically) and my life came to a screeching halt one day when all my problems collided, and I just gave up. I felt like my life was ruined and the worst part was that I did it to myself. And part of that collision was going through a really bad breakup with my high school boyfriend, which was also my fault. (At least the 'bad' part was.) So my motto on life at this time was kind of like, "F it." I didn't care about anything anymore. My days consisted of hanging out with my funnest friends, finding out where the party was at and staying drunk.
So, I can't remember all the specific details because of course this night didn't seem special to me until years later (and I was drunk), but I was with a friend party hopping around town like usual, and we ended up at Johns brothers girlfriends house. I don't recall much of what I did at the party, except that I was text fighting like crazy with my ex-boyfriend. He had started seeing a new girl and would not leave me alone about it. Telling me how much better she was than me, letting me know how much prettier she was. I was feeling like real shit. And I was alone. The guy I had ruined that relationship over, turned out to be a huge jerk and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'm pretty sure he was the reason I wanted to go to this party anyways, only to end up being ignored by him. So there I found myself sitting out on the back deck alone, angrily texting and now crying and here comes John Apfel. He sat down next to me, I'm assuming asked what was wrong, and then we talked for what felt like ever. He was going through a bad breakup too, and we immediately bonded over that. We understood what the other one was going through. We were sad. We were pissed off. We wanted to get drunk and forget. We were in it together. And what I immediately loved about John was that he was just as upset at the world as I was, but he could smile and laugh about it in a way that I couldn't. If there's one word I could use to describe how I felt in that moment with John, and the same way that I feel about him now is happy. When I try to look back on this moment and envision it in my head, I see myself smiling. Even though my word was falling apart and I was anything but, I remember feeling happy sitting there on the steps with John.
Eventually I realized that my friend had left me there, and that in fact almost everyone had left except John, his brother, his brothers girlfriend and I. So we went inside where John tried to convince me to stay the night saying that he would make me a chimichanga (still have no idea what this is lol, but I always remember this part) but I was like, "no, no I just want to go home." So I called my Mom to pick me up (I was 20 lol, and we lived down the street) and I remember John walked me down the driveway to my Moms car and introduced himself. I probably only remember this detail because anytime after this when I was out with John and my Mom would ask "who?" I'd be like, "you met him that one night you picked me up, remember!"
So I went home and was thankful that he'd sat and and talked with me, but kind of thought that would be the end of it. And I was pretty drunk and pretty angry so I wasn't really thinking about him much anyways if I'm being honest. I was very self-absorbed in my own little world with my own problems.
Then he added me on Facebook the next day and messaged asking if I was okay. And of course neither of us have Facebook anymore, so I can't recall the conversation exactly, but I remember replying something like, "oh yeah I'm fine. That was so embaarrassing, sorry!" And then I know he said something like, "you should come out on the boat with us sometime." And we must have exchanged numbers at that point, because after that we became kind of inseparable.
I think we were exactly what each other needed at this time in our lives. A distraction. Someone to talk to. Someone so we didn't have to be alone. Someone who was always down to party. A partner in a lot of ways. John was my go-to friend for everything. That whole summer it was always, "where are you doing tonight?" "Wanna come over?" "Do you have wine?" We would drive around every night listening to music, smoking cigarettes and calling (yes calling lol) everyone we knew looking for who was having a party at their parents house. It didn't take long before we were calling each other best friends. I truly felt he was my best friend because he understood me in a way that no one else did, but I think I was only Johns best friend because he thought I was fun, haha. It's good for me to remember that sometimes though, that I used to be a fun person. Although I'm really glad we're not getting into that kind of "fun" anymore...
So the rest of summer went by like this and then one day John calls to tell me that he got into Michigan State. He had spent his first year at a nearby community college and we never talked about it, but I guess I just assumed that he would be going back there. So I was totally surprised by this. Mostly because it was the week before school started so I was like, "what do you mean you just got in???" I thought he was making it up at first. For some reason I always used to think John was making up stories because things like this just happen to him that always seem so unbelievable. But nope, wasn't making it up, just super lucky and apparently was accepted into his program last minute. I was happy for him, of course, but I also remember being really, really sad because that meant he was going to go off and leave me. It was another reminder that everyone else, even John who I had thought was just like me, had a plan, a future, something other than this day-to-day nothingness that had become my life. (All about me...)