I met Michael* and his girlfriend Regina* during the first week of my freshman year of college. Michael was a senior, Regina was a sophomore, and they were clearly in love.
Well, it became clear over time that Michael was in love with Regina. By Thanksgiving break, Regina had broken up with Michael, so I guess the feeling wasn’t entirely mutual.
I knew both Michael and Regina from the Christian fellowship on campus, but I didn’t know either of them well. When I first met Michael, I remember thinking he was cute. Then he introduced me to “his sweetie,” and I checked him off my mental list of possibilities.
I didn’t date in high school, although I had crushes on many unattainable young men. I invited one of the more attainable ones—a friend and someone I didn’t really think of romantically—to be my prom date, but he declined. I think he was afraid others would not believe we were really just friends, and that was a risk he wasn’t willing to take. I don’t think he went to the prom at all. I ended up going to the prom with someone my chemistry teacher set me up with; he thought we were both good kids and should get to experience our senior prom. We did, and it was awkwardly enjoyable, and mostly forgettable.
That was the extent of my dating history as of September of my freshman year of college.
After Christmas break, Michael and I started spending time together. I don’t really remember how it happened, and initially, I didn’t think much of it. At first, we just happened to be in the same group of friends hanging out, in the library or the campus grille or the dorm lounge.
As the weeks progressed, Michael started seeking me out especially, and we spent more one-on-one time together. But still, I wasn’t jumping to any conclusions. I had a bit of a crush on the Rob Lowe lookalike from my Spanish class, and it didn’t occur to me not share those feelings with Michael. (Did I mention my penchant for pining after unattainable guys?)
In April, when according to Alfred Lord Tennyson, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” Michael confessed his feelings to me, and gave me my first real kiss.
This dating relationship would not last more than six months, but to this day, I count Michael among my friends. A decade later, I attended his wedding, and he and his wife now have four children, and we exchange Christmas cards every year and see each other at the occasional reunion.
I count myself blessed to have had Michael as my first boyfriend. He set the bar high and demonstrated that love can grow from friendship, and that friendship can survive a breakup. For that, I remain grateful.
*Names have been changed for no good reason.