Seeing that I’m older AND wiser AND still single, it has become abundantly apparent that deciding not to break-up with my high school boyfriend before jetting away to college a thousand miles from him was probably not one of my more stellar plans. The fact that I was sleeping with a new guy who lived down the hall from me about a week into the first semester of my freshman year didn’t sway me from my I’m-going-to-marry-my-high-school-sweetheart-even-though-he’s-not-that-great agenda. I was a sweet young thing with a mission, damn it, and I was determined.
Looking back on those years, I don’t have any idea how my whole scheme ultimately ended. All I know is that I’m not married to that tall, thin, pot smoking kid from high school who had waaaaay more potential than was ever going to be realized. Unfortunately, I’m also not married to the hot guy down the hall who swept me off my feet and into his bed pretty much the minute I landed on that fertile Iowa soil.
Coming from Southern California to Iowa at eighteen for college amounted to some serious culture shock. I had never walked beans, tipped cows, or detassled corn before. Luckily for me, half of the kids on campus came from Chicago and had never done those things before either. I was an odd one, Charlie Brown, coming from Thousand Oaks, California to attend college in the middle of a corn field, but I liked it that way.
Being different has its perks. I was known as the “girl from California” right away and would hear that pretty regularly when I introduced myself. It was kind of like being a minor celebrity without having to sign autographs. My clothes were a little different. I had smoked pot for years. I had surfed (badly—but no one had to know that). And, I could easily keep the boys at bay with my little, “I have a boyfriend back home.”
All except one.
Dylan was a typical Iowa boy who went to school with only thirteen other kids in his graduating class, played football, worked the fields, and had piercing blue eyes. The fact that he donned a flat-top mullet haircut had more to do with the fact that it was 1986 than that he grew up on a farm. I was pretty much smitten the second his Frisbee landed on my towel where I was laying out in front of our dorm. Two hours later I was in his room giggling over beers and getting naked.
While I wouldn’t say that I thought I was better than Dylan, I certainly considered myself more worldly—even though he was two years my senior. He seemed so innocent and sweet snuggling up to me sharing his secrets and desires. I was too young myself to figure out that I was being used and not really more than a blip on his radar screen—I felt the kind of connection only teenagers feel when they have sex mixed with beer and suntan lotion.
My affair with Dylan ended as abruptly as it started. Needless to say, I was devastated. Picture a blond girl huddled up against a dorm room door tied up in her blanket all night long crying AND banging on the door AND pleading—and you’d pretty much get the picture. It was not one of my finer moments.
Where did we go wrong? What happened? Why oh why did he leave me?
It wasn’t too long after my hallway debacle that Dylan had a new girlfriend. Seeing that he pretty much stuck it out with me for only a few weeks, I figured I could wait it out and get him back. Nope. I stuck with this plan for years seeing that they lasted that long.
When they finally broke up I pounced, found myself in bed with Dylan all over again, and was more than a little surprised that he was graduating and moving to Arizona. Huh? How did that happen? Oh well, I was an old pro at long distance relationships (remember my high school boyfriend?) and visited him more than a few times while I was still in school and he was busy moving on with his life.
It’s safe to say that I probably still don’t know what love is considering that I thought I was madly in love with Dylan. I adored his mild mannered, gentle demeanor packed into a six foot two muscular body. When he called me my nickname—QT—I pretty much melted right there on the spot. When he called me out of the blue to tell me to cancel my plans to come out and see him again I was more than a little shocked—What do you mean you met someone? I’m your someone!
It was the kind of heartbreak that led me to call his mother in Iowa a few years later only to be met with no knowledge of me ever existing. When I saw his name scrawled on an Iowa City bathroom wall—Dylan Schurr is a hot box of lava—I was more confused than angry. He slept with other girls besides his girlfriend and me?
The other night a drinking buddy asked me if I wanted to be in love. This irritated the fuck out of me because I can honestly say that his idea of love and my idea of love are so entirely different that I had no idea how to answer. Do I want another relationship like the one with Dylan where I’m completely gaga and then thrown out like a used paper towel? Uh, no. Do I want to be so incredibly in sync with someone that we share a special bond only we understand? Uh . . . not really. I don’t know if “love” feels fake to me because I haven’t had the opportunity to experience it firsthand or if I have become so jaded I don’t trust those feelings that come when you connect with another person.
When living in California, you are taught to put up walls and barriers so you can protect yourself from the millions of people who live there. I call it being coastal. People from the East coast do it too. In the Midwest this sort of self-imposed protection isn’t as prevalent. That’s probably why people seem so damn nice there. My nice Iowa boy sure helped me stack and mortar some seriously thick brick walls. It may be time to buy myself a Jack hammer.