I was pretty sheltered as a kid.
My dad died when I was three.
My mom kept me home most of the time. I was happy there, so I didn’t mind.
In the LDS church young men are expected to serve a full-time mission for two years. At that time they would go at age nineteen.
I was afraid of being on my own for that long.
I’d been on my own at scout camps and events, but that was it.
I was afraid of being far from home.
I had always wanted to get married. That seemed a lot safer, and I’d always been romantically inclined.
I had a plan.
Right after high school I would go to college for a year. While I was there I would find someone to marry.
Never mind that I had never gone out on a date before.
Never mind that I was afraid to even talk to girls.
My plan was foolproof.
What could possibly go wrong?
I’ve noticed a pattern in my romantic relationships.
Several women I’ve loved have been the victims of abuse.
I wanted to save them.
I wanted to show them they were worthy of love. That they had value.
I thought if I told them how wonderful they were they would see that I was right. They would see how beautiful they were, inside and out. They would see themselves the way I saw them.
I was wrong.
It wasn’t enough.
I failed them.
I wanted to be the knight in shining armor. To ride in on my white horse. To slay the dragon and save the damsel in distress.
I’m really just a scared little boy.
My armor is made of cardboard and paper. My horse is a broomstick. My sword is made of wood.
I can’t save you.
I’m not even sure I can save me.
I tend to rush into romance.
I think I’m just scared of being “forever alone.”
I talk about getting married with a girl before we’ve even gotten to know each other.
I’ve wanted to be married my whole life.
I didn’t date at all in high school.
I took things slow with the first couple of girls I dated. Maybe too slow.
After that I started rushing things. Each relationship faster than the one before.
I was engaged twice before meeting my wife. I never did get the know the second girl very well. We only dated for a few weeks before getting engaged. We were only together for a few weeks after that.
I only date my wife for a few weeks before we started talking about marriage. A little while after that I realized I was doing it again.
By the time we’d known each other for a year our first son was born.
It was Sunday night. I’d just moved into my dorm. Classes hadn’t started yet.
I graduated from high school a few months before that.
I didn’t have any friends there. I was alone.
I went for a walk that evening. As I was walking I noticed a girl wandering around. I kept my distance.
Then she came up to me. She had a feeling she should come talk to me.
We walked and talked for a while, getting to know each other.
We went back to her dorm. She introduced me to her roommates, who I became friends with.
I started spending more time with her. I started having feelings for her.
We went to school dances together. I’d never danced with a girl who wanted to dance with me before.
Later we were alone in her living room. I was sitting in a chair. She was sitting on my lap. We were talking and our lips brushed against each other.
Most guys would have kissed her. I’m not most guys. I’d never kissed a girl. Well, not since first grade, anyway…
I burst out laughing.
Things slowly went downhill after that.
I didn’t see her at all during Christmas break.
I wrote her a long, rambling letter. In the letter I said I loved her. I slipped it in her bag before she went home for a long weekend in January.
She wrote me a short note. She said she was sorry, but she didn’t feel the same way.
I was devastated.
It must not have been that bad. I don’t remember hearing any complaints. Except for the teacher’s.
She asked my mom to meet with her after school. And to bring me.
She sat in the middle of her kidney-shaped table. My mom and I were on the other side.
I don’t remember much about that meeting. Just that she told my mom what I’d been doing and that it needed to stop.
Before school each class would make two lines. A line of boys and a line of girls.
I’d walk down the girls’ line and give them each a kiss.
I don’t remember exactly why I did it. I wasn’t in love with every girl in the class. At least I don’t think so…
I didn’t see a problem with it. I kissed my family members all the time. Even my grandpas.
I didn’t get in a lot of trouble. That’s probably because I stopped.
I didn’t kiss another girl for twelve years.
But that’s another story.
Actually, she had the guy sitting next to her ask.
I was in junior high school. I was sitting in Spanish class one day, minding my own business. The girl sitting in front of me, and the guy sitting next to her, turned around. He asked me if I would go out with her.
It was the first time in years a girl had shown interest in me. I didn’t know what to to. I think I panicked.
I don’t really remember what happened next. I think I may have mumbled something about not being sixteen yet.
After that I pretended nothing had happened. I think she did, too.
After that day, though, I developed a big crush on her. I never acted on it, because I was scared. I had a crush on her on and off until the end of high school.
When I was in the first grade I had the biggest crush on a little girl in my class. I think she had a crush on me, too.
The next summer we both took swimming lessons from the same lady. Then I didn’t see her at swimming lessons any more.
She was supposed to be in my class again the next year. Her best friend was in the class, too. On the first day of school the teacher called roll. When she got to my crush’s name, her friend announced that she had moved to California. My little heart broke.
Later that year my crush came back. Just to visit. I was too nervous to talk to her.
I became convinced that my crush would move back, and I decided to wait for her. I was sure I would marry her.
Just before Christmas when I was in the fifth grade she visited again. The next May another girl gave me a note from my crush. The note said that she was in love with me. It said to meet her behind the school after school. I thought the girl had waited five months to give me the note, and I was so mad at her. I hung on to that note for a long time. I wish I still had it.
My crush came to visit again in seventh grade. I never talked to her on any of her visits, I was too scared. I had put her up on a giant pedestal.
In ninth grade a girl in my Spanish class asked me if I wanted to go out with her. I don’t remember what happened after that. But I do know that after seven long years I stopped waiting for my crush.
When I was in eleventh grade a girl in my math class announced (to the whole class in general) that my old crush had moved back. I had been right after all. But I was afraid of girls in general, and I had lost interest in my old crush.
Later I realized that she probably visited other times I wasn’t aware of, and that maybe that girl who gave me the note hadn’t waited five months. Maybe my crush waited behind the school for me that May day, and I never showed up.