Friday, October 12, 2012

Boy Bits - Part 3

I met Zach the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. (I'm using his real name and not altering his photos because I don't have any contact with Zach anymore, nor do we have any mutual friends.) We were both taking a summer chemistry class at Aurora Community College. (I took classes every summer so I could take a slightly lighter load during the school year.) I thought he was really cute, but I didn't like his best friend, Chris, at all; he was really irritating and omni-present. And I thought Zach's shorts were too short. :) He told me later that he thought I was cute, too, but thought I was married because I wore a silver band on my left ring finger. Hello?!? I was 20 years old! No way!

Zach's fraternity picture

Despite his slightly poor fashion choices, I liked Zach and he obviously liked me, too. We flirted with each other constantly. He made sure to select the lab table behind mine, we'd always hang out during our breaks from class. He also went to CSU and was in a fraternity, but not a fraternity my friends and I frequented, so I'd never seen him up there.

But I could never get him alone. Chris was always there. Except one day when he finally wasn't. Zach walked me out to the parking lot and Chris was suspiciously not there. That's when Zach finally asked me out. He did good - he brought me flowers, took me to dinner, then to a movie. We sat in the car and talked for hours. From then on, we were inseparable. We had so much to talk about. We seemed to be a good match for each other. I was determined to be incredibly open about my past with Zach from the beginning and if it screwed things up, then we obviously weren't meant to be together.

See, Zach seemed to be a bit of a good guy. And not just a nice guy, good guy, but the type of good guy who had never done drugs, didn't really drink, followed all the laws, probably hadn't had one-night stands. The kind of guy who might really look down on a girl who had done those things. I mean, he was incredibly involved in Aurora Teen Court, was planning on going to law school, and wanted to be a prosecutor - wanted to uphold the law. But when I told him about my past, he was actually pretty cool about it. He needed to know that that part of my life was over, but he didn't really judge me about it. He told me he wasn't perfect, either.

Zach and I fell in love. It felt so different to both of us than any of our previous relationships ever felt. We talked about all of our feelings with each other, all of our fears, all our dreams, all our thoughts. We talked about the future - the immediate future when we both moved back up to Fort Collins and the far away future, when we'd get married and be together for the rest of our lives. It wasn't an "if", it was "when" - we were so sure of our future together. We talked about whether we wanted kids or not, which one of us would be in charge of paying our bills, what our dreams for our careers were - literally everything. It was awesome and scary all at the same time.

Zach & I at Kate's cabin for a party weekend

We assimilated into each other's college lives pretty easily. Since we were both Greek, we understood that part, and were able to get our houses to do things together. Our friends got along well, some of my friends even dated some of his friends. We were always together. I spent more nights at his house than my own. We had an amazing sex life. :) We were very passionate about each other. He would write me pages-long love letters and send me cards and flowers all the time. He was a great boyfriend by my standards.

Our biggest problem was jealousy. I've always been a jealous type, but had never been on the other end of the emotion. Zach's jealousy was very difficult for me to deal with. The first big fight we had was when an old friend of Zach's (who happened to be a member of the fraternity where I had "kissed" a lot of the guys I've mentioned before) told Zach, in graphic detail, about some of my hijinks there. It was at a party and Zach was drinking, he was hurt and probably a little embarrassed to hear about his girlfriend's behavior, even if it was way in the past. And though I had told Zach about my past, I didn't go into the kind of detail Jason did. Why would I? Nobody wants or needs to hear that shit about their current girlfriend. I still don't know why Jason told him. Anyway, when I got to the party, Zach was drunk and pissed. He yelled and screamed. I think he was pissed that his good friend knew about my past indiscretions. Not that I in fact had past indiscretions - but that his friend knew.

His way of "getting back" at me was to flirt with another girl at the party, Josette. (The only reason why I remember her name is because I knew her growing up.) She would continue to flirt with Zach past that night, either not realizing how serious we were or not caring. It pissed me off to no end. She was a constant thorn in my side.

The other bad jealousy situation happened at my sorority formal. Some of my sorority sisters ended up going with Zach's brothers; I think we ended up with a group of eight. Both Ben and Jarell were there platonically and just wanted to have fun. Anybody who knew me back then knew that I loved to dance and would do so at every opportunity. Zach - not so much. So I danced up a storm with Ben and Jarell this night, giving Zach a seriously unnecessary case of apoplexy. He was so pissed that it was ridiculous. He made me cry right there at the dinner table and I sat with him for the rest of the night, not dancing, not really having fun. (In some of the other photos, you can tell I've been crying and he's got a death grip on me.)

In the limo on the way to my sorority formal

But we had a ton of fun together. We went to parties, date functions, sorority and fraternity formals together. We went on trips together - to Kate's cabin with a huge group of our sorority sisters and his fraternity brothers, we went to Salt Lake City to visit his mother. We spent lots of time with our families in Denver. We did the whole 21st birthday hoopla with each other and then took care of each other in the aftermath.

Mormon Temple grounds in Salt Lake City
Zach became my best friend as well as my lover and constant companion. I really couldn't imagine my life without him. Things were good, I felt complete. I think he felt complete, too.

Visiting Zach's Mom in Utah
But then came the night that almost destroyed us.

I was sleeping at his place and he came home from a night out with the guys. He was drunk. Probably more so than I'd ever seen him before. He kept trying to have sex with me and I wasn't interested since he was so wasted. I tried to leave and he hit me. It wasn't exactly a punch and it wasn't exactly a slap. It wasn't on my face, it was on my arm. It shocked me more than it hurt. I don't think he would have done anything more serious, but I wasn't sticking around to find out. I left Zach crying and begging me to stay.

When I got back to my sorority house, I went straight to Kate's room, crawled into bed with her, and cried to her until I fell asleep. 

The next day, our shared phone rang off the hook with Zach calling constantly. We finally had to turn it off. I went about my day, distraught about what happened, but determined to not talk to him. He started calling the house phone, but I wouldn't take his calls. He even showed up at the house, but I wouldn't go downstairs to talk to him. Nobody but Kate knew what happened, so I'm sure the situation was confusing to all the girls. 

I think it took a day or two, but Zach eventually sent Ben to talk to me. Ben said Zach was confused, didn't remember what happened other than we argued and I left him, and now I wouldn't talk to him. When I told Ben what happened, he was shocked and apologetic for Zach. 

Eventually, Zach and I got together to discuss what happened. He was a disaster. My not talking to him was slowly killing him. He promised to never let anything like that happen again. He loved me, he didn't want to hurt me. Now, I know this is what every abuser tells the object of his abuse, but  we were different. I truly believed it wouldn't happen again and we stayed together.

Zach never hit me again. Violence was most definitely not a part of our relationship. (This is not a story I've told many people.)

Zach's formal
We got through the rest of the year and decided that we both wanted to stay in Fort Collins for the summer. Kate and I decided to move into his fraternity house, under the guise of sharing a room, but really I was living with Zach and Kate lived next door.

One of my favorite memories is from that summer. The Delt house had really narrow, but really tall bedrooms. All the guys had lofts where their beds were and living rooms down below. That meant our bed was right under the roof. One night it poured. I mean, a serious get-your-Ark, crazy loud thunderstorm. Zach and I were cozy in bed together, listening to the rain for hours, in each other's arms. It was amazing to be so close to the sound of the rain, but feel completely safe. I love falling asleep to the rain even today.

Kate and I planned to go to England for something that summer (class of some sort?), but I didn't want to be away from Zach, so I backed out of the trip. Instead, Zach and I got engaged. I knew it would happen eventually, just not as soon as it did. We had looked at rings. He'd already lavaliered me and given me diamond earrings, but I was more than a little surprised when he proposed.

We were celebrating our anniversary with a nice dinner and some quality time in Denver. He'd given me a gift of perfume, and like a spoiled brat, I was a little disappointed. I'd expected jewelry of some sort. Zach wanted to walk around a park that had a special place in his heart, but it was pouring rain, so we cuddled in the car instead. He was acting very weird, which I can now chalk up to nervousness. Eventually, he decided the rain wasn't going to stop and we should just make a run for it to the gazebo in the middle of the park. I literally asked him if he was crazy, to which he told me to be nice.

So, like a good girlfriend, I followed his crazy-ass through the pouring rain to the gazebo. He was so happy that we were out there. Well, until another couple sought refuge from the rain under the same gazebo. Zach very loudly bitched and moaned about their presence and gave them the stink eye until they left. Finally we were alone.

Zach stood in front of me and asked me to close my eyes. Then he told me all the things he loved about me, about us, told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and then asked me to marry him. My eyes popped open and he was down on one knee in front of me holding a beautiful engagement ring. I was shocked, flabbergasted, excited... all the other emotions one might have in this situation. Of course I said yes. We were both crying and kissing, Zach picked me up and hugged me until I couldn't breathe. He had done the traditional thing and asked my parents for permission a couple weeks prior. How I missed that, I'll never know. On the drive back to Fort Collins we called our loved ones to tell them the good news.

We knew we were going to wait for a while to get married. One, we wanted to graduate first, so that meant we for sure were going to wait for at least a year. Two, we then decided that we didn't want to have too many humongous life changes all at once - both of us graduating, Zach starting law school, me starting a job, and getting married - so we decided that we'd get married two years from our engagement. A long time to be engaged, I know.

At the end of the summer, we decided we didn't want to be apart, we still wanted to live together. Though it wasn't an issue for Zach, my sorority required everybody to live in. Instead of figuring out a way to make it work, I deactivated from my sorority so that we could get an apartment together. Quitting the sorority would prove to be one of the worse mistakes of my life.

I essentially had nothing besides school and Zach to take up my time anymore. I didn't have the girls, the house, all of the extracurricular activities that had once kept me busy. I relied on Zach for the majority of my social activities. It wasn't good for us.

Zach started pulling away from me and all the responsibility. And the more he did, the more I held on to him. Which pushed him away even more. It was a vicious cycle. Eventually, he decided he needed more space and moved out. Then he decided he needed more freedom, needed to "live" more, wanted to date other people, so we broke up.

I've already talked about the depression I went through and the details of our break-up, so I won't go through all that again. It was a very tough time for me.

Eventually we both graduated and went our separate ways. I found out that he married the girl he dated immediately after me. They got married before he and I had planned to get married. A couple years later, I found out that they divorced. He and I got in contact after that. This was before the days of Facebook and I think we found each other on He told me all about his and Amber's break-up - she couldn't handle being in California, away from her family, while he went to law school. He told me that he held onto my engagement ring for some reason and then Amber found it and had a hissy. He never knew what she did with it, but he still had to pay the thing off. (Teehee!)

He told me that he wished we had stayed together because our relationship was so awesome; the best he'd ever had. He thought we would have made it work. If he'd married me, we wouldn't have gotten divorced. I didn't agree and told him so. I told him that I think we would have ended up divorced, too.

We stayed in touch for a while, but then we both started dating other people and late night phone calls with your ex-fiance just isn't kosher. So, while we very, very occasionally emailed, we essentially lost touch.

After another year or so, I ended up emailing him about some news story about his fraternity. I got a response back from a woman named Jessica, claiming to be Zach's new wife. She wanted to know who I was and essentially asked me to go away. She and Zach were happy newlyweds, were buying their first house, and she didn't want me to be in contact with him anymore. I respected her wishes.

Then came Facebook, and like any ex-girlfriend would, I looked Zach up. I wasn't going to "friend" him, I just wanted to see what he looked like nowadays. His picture is with his wife. But her name isn't Jessica. And they only recently got married. Way after that whole email/Jessica situation. So, it looks like he's on his third marriage. Which, honestly, I think is kind of icky. And it makes me even more positive that we wouldn't have worked out. I just don't know that he has it in him.

I actually held onto the love letters and cards that Zach gave me. My sister asked me why I'd want to have those memories and I told her that they make me realize how good a relationship can be, how much two people can love each other, how well someone once treated me. Though our relationship didn't end up great, it really was awesome for a while. And that's what I want again. That kind of love is what I want to find and experience again.