It all started on the school bus.

She gave me this look that was half smile, half eyes. We hung out for a few days, and then I invited her to my birthday party. I asked her if she wanted to go out with me the night before.

“Okay,” she said with a lilt in her voice, smiling.

As I got to know this girl, I knew her as the one who never stopped listening to country music, the one who would always stick up for a friend and the one who would defend the Ohio State Buckeyes with her dying breath.

A couple more weeks went by, and we walked down the street, holding hands. We invited the kid she was babysitting to get ice cream with us. When she finished watching him for the night, she walked me back to my place. Words were few, and for some reason, I didn’t mind.

I still remember the look in her eyes, like shimmering waves of amber, the lights that lined the sidewalk out front reflected in her gaze.

Then, it happened. She kissed me.

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I asked her to go with me to my senior prom, and she agreed.

We dated for a few more months, but then I graduated high school. I was going to community college, so we started to grow apart.

We fought, tried to be friends and fought some more. Typical high-school stuff.

We stayed friends, but that would be it.

Years passed, and one night, she unexpectedly texted me , and it was suddenly we were rejoining a conversation that never ended. Words were said. Pics were sent. It happens.

When I went home for the weekend, I picked her up at a friend’s house, in my old ’99 VW Beetle, and I drove as far out to the middle of nowhere as I could get without being lost. We stopped on the side of the road on the outskirts of town and started making out. Hours went by, and before I knew, we were testing the car’s suspension in a really creative way.

I held her close, and she had that same look in her eyes that she had when we were in front of my parents’ apartment.

I drove her back to her friend’s house, and I felt like we were back in high school again, and nothing ever changed. Nothing held us back. As long as we were together, everything was perfect.
Spoiler alert: Everything was not perfect.

The next day, I had to drive back to Roseville, Michigan, where I lived at the time. Despite the distance, I convinced myself that we could make it work.
I had a lot to learn.

She found someone else, and although I said I wasn’t looking for a relationship at the time, I didn’t believe it.

I was chasing someone whom I knew I couldn’t have.

I thought what we had was this amazing expression of love between two people, but it wasn’t. It was a one-night stand.

That may work for some people, but I’ve always been a hopeless, starry-eyed romantic. I don’t think that will ever change.

There was once a time when I could bang and run, but I’ve started growing up. For me, playing the field isn’t as appealing as it used to be.

Now, I’ve moved past being hurt. I learned how to set more realistic expectations, so if that happens, I’m not setting myself up to have my heart broken.

One thing’s for sure: If I hadn’t been there on that school bus and had the guts to talk to that girl, I would never have met one of my best friends.

Email Tim Lyman at news@cardinalpointsonline.com

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