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Never Say Never

October 5, 2012

People always say you are supposed to meet the love of your life in college. Well, I did. But it took me a helluva long while to figure it out. I started dating a sweet and brilliant (if nerdy) guy at the beginning of my sophomore year. It was four months of heavy makeout sessions in dorm rooms and various places around campus, studying together, watching movies, and many Chipotle burrito dates. In other words, pretty much exactly what I wanted from my first real relationship. But as the fourth month approached, I grew restless. His silly personality began to get on my nerves, he frustrated me with his tendency to ramble. And to make matters worse, the relationship seemed headed down the marriage fast-track. If he’d had a glass slipper, he would have jammed it on my foot long ago. He was sure. I was surely not.

Increasingly, I sensed it wasn’t meant to be. A lot of complicated emotions went into this decision, including fear of commitment. I was 20, and terrified of forging ahead with a relationship I wasn’t sure I wanted. And so, as my own case of the Twenty-Something Condition was just developing, I dumped him. I dumped him real good, over breakfast in one of the dining halls, right before Music Theory 101, a class we had signed up to take together. In retrospect, it was not my best move. He cried, I cried, and then…we went to class together? Twice a week for the rest of the quarter? Oh yes, we did.

My prince did not take the break-up well. He was in love with me, and couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that I didn’t feel the same way. And thus ensued two years of awkwardness, friends with benefits, angry passive aggressiveness, and why-do-I-hate-it-that-I-like-it-when-he-smiles-as-me-across-a-crowded-room confusion. Taylor Swift had yet to write her song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” but I was singing this anthem loud and clear, except for in the quiet moments when I fantasized about him at night, or tried to sit near him at church. Not next to him, mind you. Just close enough that he knew I was there, which he always did.

My fellow naughty princesses remember this time well, because I nearly drove them out of their minds with my vacillating and backsliding and promising that I was done forever. More than once they would ask me, “Do you want to be with him?”

And I would confidently answer, “No, never.”

They would say, “Are you sure?”

And I would say, “I’m sure.”

But I wasn’t. The what-ifs never completely abated, even though I stood by my decision to end the relationship. Then, during the summer before our senior year, I started spending more time with that prince, mostly in group activities. But I noticed something strange: I really loved being around him. At this point he was about to leave for graduate school in the Middle East, so clearly nothing could happen now. If I was certain I did not believe in getting back together, I was dead-set against long-distance relationships. To acquiesce to both would be unthinkable.

Well, you can guess what happened. A few months later I took the plunge, fired up my webcam, and did what I’d sworn never to do, and it was the best decision I ever made. We dated while he finished a Master’s degree in a faraway foreign land, and all the while people warned me, “Just don’t marry him and move over there with him…

“It’s not safe. Terrorism. 9-11. Burkas. Women’s rights…”

Their concerns were valid in my eyes. I could never live in a place like that. Marriage might be back on the table, but moving? Never.

You can guess what happened next. I’m now living in a country I’d sworn never to visit, with the man I rejected a thousand times over. It’s a life I truly never imagined I’d have, but it’s been more fun than I could have ever dreamed.

November 7th, 2011: My prince flew around the world to surprise me with my birthday present: an engagement ring. Guess when he bought the ring?

2008.

He bought me a ring all those years before because he was sure. Even though I wasn’t, he never gave up on me. I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years of knowing this man, and here’s the biggest one of all.

Never say never.

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