I broke up with my first love in January 2011. We had been the most wonderful couple. We went on trips to the zoo, we sang and played guitar together, we had food fights and most of all, we had fun. In October 2010 however, he turned 18, which is a milestone age for anyone in Britain. This meant he was legally an adult and legally allowed to drink and go to nightclubs.
His eclectic personality had already won him a group of 'cool' friends; all lads. On turning 18 he had a new battle on his hands - finding a way to maintain our relationship, whilst keeping his friends happy and getting drunk and watching the football and dancing in clubs with a large group of scantily-clad females.
Eventually his friends became his priority and he left me. I was naturally very distraught. The worst part is, he got drunk even more, he partied even more, he had more and more sexual relationships, he even took a 10 day holiday to Magaluf, Spain, otherwise known as 'Shagaluf'.
It was the most difficult break up, purely because I still saw him, every day at college. His friends were my friends and there was no escaping the news; the gossip. I went to the length of deleting him off Facebook because I couldn't stand to see or hear that he was enjoying his life without me. I was already bruised.
Until last September when he joined the Merchant Navy. Since December, he's been away at sea. The Merchant Navy isn't a place to get drunk. The Merchant Navy involves deck crew work from 6am-6pm. The Merchant Navy involves taking life seriously. To hear that he had joined was to be reminded of the old him. That's when I realised that perhaps he hadn't broken up with me 'out of spite'. Perhaps he broke up with me in an attempt to finally live his teenage years while he could. After all, looking at it from my perspective - who has only recently turned 18 myself, I would be the same. I would want to have my fun.
With that, I sent him an e-mail wishing him good luck. Because for once, I meant it. I wanted him to be happy. I had finally forgiven him and more importantly, I had finally forgiven myself. Sure enough, he replied, and three months later, we had moved on to texting.
It was difficult to communicate with him without thinking about the past, so one night near Christmas - I didn't reply. I fell asleep and come the morning, I didn't text back. In all honesty, I just didn't want to ruin anything. I didn't want to spoil it; force it or make it awkward. We had built our bridges; we were friends. I was confident that if anything happened to me, he would be there. You don't have to text somebody 24/7 to have that relationship.
Sure enough in February he was home and he saw my best friend out in town. He confessed to her that he'd had his fair share of girls; his number was double figures, but he regretted treating me the way he did. He explained that all he wanted was to live his life, and I didn't deserve the shit he put me through. I didn't deserve to have to watch him become such a slut. It made me realise that he can have sex with anyone, but he's only made love to me.
Even after that confession, I didn't say anything to him. I felt like at last, I had won, I was right. The skeletons were gone: I had apologised, he had apologised, and at last there was no bitterness anymore.
Until Saturday afternoon, when he walked into my work. I now work in the same Home Improvement store that he did because the pay is wonderful and the hours are great. He came in to say hello to everyone, and it really threw me off-guard. All the closure I'd experienced before was fuelled by the fact that I wanted to make amends because I didn't think I'd ever see him again. And there he was. Asking me how I was.
He hung around for well over an hour, catching up with everyone. It wasn't until 3.30 when I offered him a lift home. Why? I wanted to spend longer with him. It was clear he had so much to say. I signed out of work and we walked out together, just like we used to when I would wait for him. People who recognised him then suddenly recognised me too. They remembered us.
He asked me about college, he asked about my family, I asked about his, he told me about his work, he told me about his day's routine, he told me I was a good driver, he told me it was weird for me to be driving him, as before it was the other way around. I even did a drive-by past his old car that he sold to somebody in my close. I fell in love in that car. We used to drive everywhere in that car.
On arriving at his house, he invited me in. Everything looked the same. Without thinking, I left my shoes in the same spot under the radiator. The house still smelt the same. The photos were still the same. We went into his kitchen and he offered me a coffee. He pulled out a mug for himself - one shaped like a saw that my parents had bought him for Christmas. We sat at his dining table and we spoke about everything. Every so often, we'd weave in an inside joke or an old memory. We found a picture from our trip to the zoo. I told him I still had my ticket. He told me he still had all the photos on his phone.
He showed me his work kit in his bedroom, and how nothing in his room had changed. He told me he still had the gig ticket I bought him for his birthday. I told him I still had the ticket from our first football game.
We went outside in the garden so he could have a smoke. He told me about his attempts to quit, and how he was doing fine until a girl he was seeing cheated on him and then tried to get back together and he said no. At 6.30, I had to go home for dinner. At the same time, his cousin was coming to pick him up. The same cousin I spent many double-dates with. He commented on her Stars & Stripes leggings so she asked me if I liked them, I said yes. I don't know if she realised who it was or not.
That evening I text him saying I owed him a drink stronger than coffee. Because, I wanted him to know that I was thankful for the nice afternoon we had, and seeing as I'm now 18 - we can finally go to pubs together. So on Thursday night we're walking to the local pub. At least, that's what we planned. A part of me is worried that with so many people to see, he'll forget. But perhaps he won't. I don't know.
I just don't really know anything.