The first time I remember noticing Alex was during a fire drill our Junior year in high school.
He was standing on the small rock hill in the center of campus. He was wearing a grey, short sleeved checkered shirt, blue jeans, and he had his hands in his pocket. He was standing by himself and observing the world around him, like he always does.
I remember leaning over to my friend and asked her, “Is that Alex True?” and she said, “Yeah, why?” and I wasn’t exactly sure why then. We had never talked before. Our friends were completely separate. We were strangers. But there was something about him up on that little hill.
Every time I saw him following that fire drill, my stomach fluttered. When he walked by me, I smiled shyly and looked away. And when he “liked” a profile picture of me skating on Facebook, I thought I was going to die. I could have, I was was running aimlessly around my house in excitement and could have fallen on one of the many nails that stuck up from the aged wood.
But, life goes on and we both went off to college and started our lives.
High school was behind us.
During my sophomore year winter break, I was visiting my good friend, Sam (we are known as Sam Squared), and watching Christmas movies, when I received a message. Sam casually said, “Hey dude, you have a message from Alex True.”
HOW COULD HE BE SO CASUAL?
I am still surprised that I didn’t break anything with my normal klutzy manor when I jumped over Sam’s lap to get to my phone (which was charging on the other side of Sam).
Alex said, “hey how s UN H these days”
I thought I was going to die. Again.
After talking back and forth for a few minutes, I had to ask him about why, years after graduating and never once talking, was he messaging me? My immediate thought was probably a drunken troll or something rather. I was sure that I was setting myself up for disappointment.
But instead he responded with, “Well to be honest I sorta kind of had a weird crush on you in high school.”
WAS THIS REAL LIFE?
I’d like to say “and the rest was history” but it wasn’t. We kept in touch periodically throughout the next semester, but nothing really happened. It wasn’t until we both traveled away for the summer after our sophomore year that we really started to talk.
I was in Long Island, New York, working in a jewelry shop, and he was painting houses in North Carolina.
I took the initiative that time and texted, “I can’t stop thinking of you.”
From that moment on, we texted every second we had free, sent funny pictures, called each other on our way home from work, and Skyped for hours until he started snoring.
The first time I heard his voice was at 2am on one of the worst days of my life. I was up late crying. He was texting me all night and bugging me to call him, but of course, I had no intention. He called and he called. And I’d hang up and then stare at my phone until he called again.
But after texting me, “you better pick up ya turkey,” I finally did.
The first thing he said after I answered the phone was, “your voice is a lot higher than I thought” and then laughed. He asked me questions, made me laugh and continued to call me turkey.
Hook. Line. Sinker.
It’s been about two years since then, and about a year and a half officially “together.”
And, I have to be honest, I have never been happier.
The distance is hard.
Living separate lives is hard.
At most we spend weekends together, but we are never alone. We are always with the squad (which is fine, they are cool and we have a lot of fun/interesting times). I work most weekends either at Marshalls or doing homework.
We are together, but not wholly.
And, like every couple once in a while, communication gets mixed up, tempers are tested, and tones are misconstrued. Sometimes, you just have to learn to step back and take a moment to breath and to feel.
After a particularly emotional weekend, we finally did something just the two of us to reconnect in this world of chaos we are trying to stay afloat in.
We went skating in a snow storm at midnight.
I parked my car facing the little man-made rink and kept it running to use the headlights for guidance.
I felt like we were going on a first date. I had a jittery stomach and couldn’t stop smiling.
The ice was beautiful so late at night. We were the first to break the new layer.
Alex used to play hockey and was damn good, so he skated circles around me, but I didn’t mind because I love to watch him.
We talked about old memoirs. Memories of skating when we were kids. Memories of less stressful times.
We talked about our future.
And we kissed.
As we skated and talked and talked, it began to snow, well, more hail but it was still beautiful.
No car passed. Nobody walked by. There were no lights other than my headlights.
It was just us, the black ice and the hail.
I didn’t care that I had to drive in the rain an hour and a half the next morning for an interview. I didn’t care that I had been up since 6am and hadn’t stopped all day.
This was a moment we needed.
This was a moment we would never forget.