A long time ago, I used to know this girl. She was gorgeous-I mean, really something else-the kind of girl that made all the boys' heads turn. She wasn't so much pretty in the conventional sense, the supermodel way, but there was something magical about her. Your heart could feel a glowing warmth radiating from hers and she really knew how to be charismatic. She was so utterly lovely and full of all this beautiful innocence and laughter. When she smiled, it was genuine and infectious with all her teeth showing and stars dancing in her eyes. Her speech was so natural and lyrical; it seemed like every line was a piece of this grand performance in the ultimate role-- herself. She exuded class and grace and all the things a young woman should be. People thought the world of her and she saw the world through rose-colored lenses. She thirsted for knowledge and adventure, but unlike most young women, she went out and found it. She believed in all the good things and all the rightousness left lying around given by a God that loved her so much he would rather die than spend eternity without her. She believed in things like that. It's funny really, she must seem pretty great, the way I am describing her; it's the only way I know how. I'm just trying to write what I remember, the details that I might have overlooked on the first or second recollection. Perhaps she seems larger than life, kind of like this fairytale darling, but that's the only way I can see her now, looking back on everything.
What I do remember in perfect clarity, however, is that girls like her never last long in a world like ours. She grew up.
She experienced her first kiss and first love, in all its perfect romance. She had rocks thrown at her bedroom window, candles lit on her driveway, picnics in the rain. She had meals cooked for her, cards made, and sweet kisses bestowed. She had fallen in love with her best friend. But, somewhere in all the perfectness, something erupted. She was cheated on, she was lied to, she was lead on. She cried a little bit for herself, prayed harder for the boy, and turned up the music.
She experienced her second love and first lust, in all its bitter-sweetness. She grew to love the familiar face of her closest guy friend. They danced in the moonlight, walked through the woods, and exchanged secret love letters. Then, unexpectedly, everything changed. He cheated on her, she grew angry, they both fell apart. She felt the salt on the wounds, prayed harder for the boys, and closed the windows.
She experienced a dilemma. She talked herself into love, but found that the object of her forced affection really cared for her. He made her CDs, called her late at night to talk, and drew pictures on her skin with his fingers. Finally she let go of her hesitations and fell, head first, into another mess. He cheated on her (with two girls now), but still had the audacity to expect a casual relationship on top of forgiveness. She did indeed forgive him, she prayed harder for the boys, and somewhere along the way, she made a list of things to look for in a guy.
She experienced another heart song as her best friend asked her to prom and a beautiful relationship blossomed. He was older, romantic, and they shared so much in common. He helped her to forget all her troubles and baggage and she helped him to live his life more fully. But then, like the other previous stories, he made a terrible mistake. She was left for another girl. She had no more tears to shed, prayed harder for this list of boys, and stopped believing in magic.
Now, at this point, most girls would have given up, they would lose hope, they would become bitter or cynical or lesbian. But not the girl in our story. She simply kept on giving.
She gave away many kisses, too many to count. Three more boys were added to her prayer list and three more heartaches found their way into the pages of her diary. She was growing up, getting wiser, becoming...but at the same time, she was degressing, unfolding, choosing poorly. Her perception of men had been skewed and she found herself giving them the things they wanted hoping that in return she'd finally get what it was she was looking for- love.
She played their games. She became aware of her sexuality, but still never crossed that line. She became addicted to seducing, to the power it brought her. She was Eve and he was Adam (whoever he was), and they played the roles out perfectly. She turned the music down, the lights down, and sat down on the couch of another bad boy (they seemed to be her type these days). However, on this particular couch, on this particular night, something was about to happen. That's where our story begins- in a locked room, on a Monday night, with the smell of old drugs hanging in the air.
I had made the trip across town in record time and, as usual, in secret. You opened the garage and found me leaning against my car, fiddling with my keys- my eyes were just asking for it. I followed you upstairs to your messy bedroom; you weren't expecting me. We talked about work as you tidied up the room a bit, moving clothes and clearing off your couch. We sat down and I informed you I only had a half hour to spare before I had to go. We chatted and idlely pretended to watch the television, although we were both watching each other. In my statuesque pose, my blood stopped pumping and I grew colder. You offered the blanket on the floor and so as I pulled it over to me I asked, "Do you want some?" Covers, I meant, of course, but you misunderstood.
"Yes," you replied as you slipped your arm around my body and smiled as you drew me in towards your lips. I wasn't complaining because that is what I had come here for anyways, we both knew that. I was looking to dull the sting of loneliness and you always knew how to make me feel unalone and uninvisible (words that weren't even words, except for in my mind).
I panicked as clothes started coming off--this hadn't happened the other times, not like this. You took that warning of a half hour visit to mean that there was an urgency in our meeting, there was a fast pace set for our rendezvous. We're all over each other and the couch and my mind. I can't think this fast. I wasn't planning on this happening tonight, ever. Although I did want it, so very badly. I knew it was wrong, I knew it was crippling to my purity, I knew it was a bad idea- but for 20 minutes there in your room I wanted to forget I knew those things. I wanted, just for once in my life, to let go- to stop listening to my conscience.
I started to ignore the screaming in my brain and started listening to you whisper things like, "You can grab something other than my arm, you know..."
My heart was pounding in my ears and every chastity talk was going through my head and my true love waits ring was digging into my flesh pleading with me and as our breathing quieted I heard a Taylor Swift song:
It was a moment of weakness and you said yes...
You should've said no, you should've gone home
You should've thought twice before you let it all go
You should've know that word, 'bout what you did with her
Would get back to me...
And I should've been there, in the back of your mind
I shouldn't be asking myself why..."
It was a song about being cheated on, something I was all too familiar with, but hearing it in this context I felt like it was my future husband singing it back to me. An eerie, "you should have said no," kept repeating and I couldn't stop arguing with myself long enough to get back to reality.
You had unhooked my undergarment and were now working on my shirt. It had a tied sash in the back, thank God, that you weren't counting on. I took control of what was happening and stopped your fingers.
"What?" you ask me, "Aren't you having fun?"
"Fun..." I laugh under my breath. You had no idea what I was thinking. "Look, I'm not one of those girls," I try to tell you.
"What kind of girl?" you ask, perplexed.
"The kind that takes her shirt off for a guy," I mumble, feeling embarrassed. You think I'm ashamed of the way I look and I laugh out loud because I know I am beautiful, especially to a guy like you who would adore a 32D chest; I'm just ashamed of what I am doing- and I'm not even sure what that is.
"Well, whatever," you say, not understanding and fully ready to press play after this little pause. "It only takes 15 seconds to make a decision," you tell me- I guess you must be the expert in rash decision making. "One, two, three..." you count playfully, finding the sash in the back and pulling it apart slowly.
It was then that Something hit me: I could take my shirt off and bra and pants and underwear for this loser of a guy that I just so happened to be attracted to, or I could wait and save it all for something more meaningful, for marriage. You would be the first guy to ever see me naked, but I didn't want it to be you- I wanted it to be my husband. When you thought of me, you wouldn't see my face or smile or hear my laugh, you would imagine me naked, bare and vulnerable, exposing myself to you in your locked bedroom.
Apparently it only took me 12 seconds to make my decision.
I put my bra back together and my shirt back on and was proud that I had made the u-turn when it mattered most, when I was about two articles of clothing away from giving you my virginity, or something close to it. I tried to cuddle as I said goodbye, but you sulked, "You only cuddle after having sex, not making out." Was that all this was? We certainly had a different view on the situation.
"Oh," I said, "I was just trying to say goodbye." I knew somewhere within me it would be a long time, if at all, before I saw you again. You were disappointed as you put your clothes back on, probably even thought I was a tease, especially after some of the comments I had made yesterday on the phone. I was okay with you thinking I was a tease, only because it meant I hadn't gone through with what I had promised (in so many words and actions), and for once in my life, it was a really good broken promise.
And so on the night after Easter, I found something I had lost for a long time. I found myself and remembered that girl I used to be- that girl at the beginning of this short story and I made a vow, a new resolution, that I would revert back to that innocence I had forgotten. I would become the person I should be- the woman God wanted me to be.
My new motto was going to be, "Onward and Upward," because that is where I was headed with my life.