Ruby was my first true love; I forget she existed. We were both from the same conservative church, both virgins, both dedicated to “God”. She was an year older, so, at the time, being a 21 year old guy seemed like a big deal (she often acted older and thought I needed someone “younger” than her).
She also knew my first girlfriend and would often comment that she couldn’t compete with her (saying she was not as beautiful and “young”). At the time, I didn’t realize this was her low-self esteem acting up. Nor did I have the experienced to understand how it would affect our future relationship. My relationship background came from lessons learned from friends and TV.
But, remarkably, she loved me for me. She adored me – despite having my own issues with confidence (I was short, chubby, messy, with no sense of style). I made her laugh and would write her poetry. I would spend some college lunch hours cross-stitching her hearts and bears, even writing a song on her birthday. I had little control or understanding of my emotions, and acted on impulse. I only could see her on weekends but we would talk on the phone daily. I gave my heart to her.
Before starting a relationship, I had signed up to join the Marines. Our relationship had a deadline, which we both accepted before getting involved. We were only two months into our relationship before I would be sent off to boot camp for three months. We agreed to lose our virginities together before I would leave. But because of fear of heart break, we broke up a few days before I had to leave. She visited me anyway the night prior to my departure. We missed each other. We talked and got back together, but decided to wait for sex. We couldn’t handle such an emotional turning point in our relationship.
I left for Marine Corps boot camp. We wrote each other as often as we could. And then I received the “break up” letter, two months into training. I was crushed. She could not handle my absence any more. Too much stress with family, life, church, and emotions which she couldn’t express in the weekly letter (mail was slow). I was also going through my own change. Boot camp was an emotional experience. I was growing a very tough emotional shell that made my fellow soldiers cry and have panic attacks in their sleep. I grew cold.
On the third month of boot camp, I left. I went to see her at church. I showed up looking “hot”, 30 lbs lighter, tan, and fit. I gained some attention from the girls who I had known but ignored it. I was on a mission. I’m sure she did not expect me. I sat right next to her, said nothing. I acted like a child, expecting her to beg for me back. She didn’t. Our egos blinded us. I left, never to visit that church again.
One year later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was going through chemo therapy. She had been hiding this but I found out from a friend of a friend. I hated that I wasn’t there for her during it all. I went to see her and we had a short talk. She hid behind her wig and didn’t want me to see her this way. She was scheduled for an operation in a few days. We didn’t talk about the past, just about how she was doing. I wasn’t able to make her laugh but I could tell she cared and seemed very proud of me. She hoped that “now” I could find a “really beautiful and smart girl that deserved me”.
God had taken her away and I never saw her again.
What I learned:
- Just because you are beautiful, it doesn’t mean you will have a happy life.
- Women are superficial. This flaw is not just isolated to men.
- If you can’t control your emotions, it will blind you, maybe even destroy your life.
- All women have insecurities.
- Love has many levels and layers. What I thought was love was only the beginning.