When I am back home, I hide. I rarely go into town. I hate going into the grocery store.
I'm hiding. I'm running away. From my past. From a boy. THE boy. The boy I fell in love with when I was eight years old. The boy I spent years staring at while I was at church, during soccer practice. The boy who finally asked me out in high school. The boy who gave me butterflies with every smile. The boy who would sing to me when I was feeling sad. The boy who was there for me, the boy I told my problems to, the boy who would lean on me when things weren't everything we wanted them to be.
He was the boy I planned my life around. He was the boy who asked me to marry him, the boy I said yes to.
But he was also the boy that played with my emotions. The boy who lied. The boy who cheated. The boy who strung me along after he realized he hated me. The boy I finally broke up with. The boy who continued to call me over and over. The boy who showed up at my dorm in the middle of the night, begging me to see him. The boy who got a new girlfriend two days after we broke up. The boy who didn't tell me about the new girlfriend for months. The boy who would tell me he loved me over and over, and then tell me he hated me.
The boy who seemed to show up everywhere I went. The boy who would tell me I was ugly, I was crazy, I was unloveable. The boy who would tell me he couldn't live without me, while he paraded his new girlfriend around our town. The boy who would freak out and show up in the middle of the night when he found out I went on a date.
The boy who ruined me. The boy who made me hate myself because I let him treat me the way he did. The boy I spent years trying to get over, to get away from.
I finally did, I finally escaped, I finally ran away. I moved to Copenhagen. He sent me a terrible letter just weeks after I moved there. It was as if I couldn't get away. He still tried to contact me constantly. I blocked him from everything.
I returned home for a visit. I saw him again. I fell into his spell again. I thought it would be ok if we became friends. I thought it would be ok. It escalated. And then it fell apart again. He peppered me with abusive language. He blamed me for every bad thing in his life. He told me he never loved me. I hated myself.
Every time I would see him, every time I would see his parents - his parents who I had loved like my own family, who had started to become my own family - I would fall apart. My ears would burn. I would start to shake. I couldn't handle being in the same place as him.
I spent six months in London and things started to change. I met Penn. I realized just how terrible our entire relationship had been.
But as much as I had changed, had healed, there was still something there. Still a terrible fear that I would fall back into the destructive life I had been living for so long. Just to feel loved. Just for those fleeting moments of adoration.
Moving home was difficult. I didn't want to see his parents. But I do see them, almost every week. They try to catch my eye. They try to say hello.
They said hello today. We ran into them at the bagel shop. They had overheard my aunt talking about my move to Texas. His dad told me he had been there. He had gone to Texas to look at grad schools with HIM. He joked about the Red Sox as if what he said had not made my stomach drop out of me.
He left. And I panicked. I am moving thousands of miles away. And for what? To possibly be in the same city as him again? But just because they were looking there doesn't mean he will go there, right? This cannot possibly happen again. I have spent the last couple of years running, and he keeps catching up to me.
Why can't he just be the boy I barely remember, not the boy I can't escape?