The First Time I…Realized Not Getting What I Wanted Was A Good Thing

If he asked me after all this time, out of his own amusement, if I remember what he was wearing the first day that we met, my mind would take me back to that very moment without hesitation. I have lived through six summers since the day that I saw him for the first time. When I was thirteen I believed time stops for just a moment when you see the person that you will be unconsciously looking for your whole life. Now that I am older I have learned that time doesn’t stop for anything, not even the underlying warrant, which I have discovered, is love. We have these ideas about the way our lives should be, as if there is an expectation that needs to be met in order to weigh out our happiness. Maybe this keeps us from settling, or maybe this keeps us from satisfaction. After one week he told me that I was the only person he would ever love to the fullest capacity. They say that distance is no match for two people who mean everything to each other, but I think that is extremely unrealistic. For three hundred and sixty five days you find yourself waking up to the sound of a slamming door and you begin to realize that this door is your life and you are a thousand miles away from the only person who knows how to open it again. Each year you begin to lose the parts that make you who you are and independence seems impossible. Every summer I had to start over again, falling harder for a person who felt like home. It was so easy loving him when he stood right in front of me. It makes you appreciate a person’s touch or smile or warmth that much more and for those simple reasons it was all worth it to me. Maybe it was the way his blue eyes resembled the ocean, and when he looked at me I felt this gravitational pull on the strings of my heart.

The fourth year of knowing and loving Alex I got on a plane in the beginning of summer to Cape Cod, as I had done many times before, but with a nostalgic feeling in the pit of my stomach. I arrived at the place that held all of my favorite memories, the place that kept me going throughout the hardships of my everyday life. Standing where I saw him for the first time was a new girl, one who he had brought from home. They never prepare you for the physical pain you feel when you know a love has died. It reflects the sound of a hummingbird as its wings move at an unbearable rate, you can’t imagine how it is possible but it’s real and it flashes before your eyes just slow enough for you to remember how it was before it is gone forever. I think a part of me stayed at the shoreline of that ocean, it couldn’t say goodbye for the last time and I had to set it free.

I walked down the boardwalk with shaking knees and found myself sitting in front of this ocean. The waves started to sound like his heart beat on the summer days he would hold me. I heard a long time ago that if you carve your wishes into the damp sand and watch as the tides washes them away, they will come true. On that last night I wished for many things to be different, for closure or for him to walk down that boardwalk and save me from myself. The disappointment hit hardest when they never came true, no matter how much we once loved each other. The next morning was time to say our goodbyes but I couldn’t even look at him without feeling like one of my ribs was about to break. So I walked away, without saying my final goodbye. Sometimes you have to break your own heart. Sometimes you have to feel like there are broken shells in the sand ripping at your bare feet and still walk further. Sometimes you have to choose not to look back and be okay with it.

Now that I am older and have lived six summers since the day I lost apart of myself I am so thankful that he never was my salvation. You can decide if you want to put your life into someone else’s hands and you can deal with those consequences. But not getting the one thing I wanted has made me the independent and strong person that I am today. I choose myself, I choose to help others until it takes a toll on my own life. In the end we are alone floating in this chaotic ocean we call our life. In the end, breaking my own heart was what I needed to do in order to find that key. The key I thought Alex always had, but in reality I always had it inside of myself. You’ll learn that this key has no lock, so never use it for anything other than yourself. There will be days where you feel like you want something or someone so badly that it almost becomes an actual need in order to survive. But then suddenly and all at once there will be a day where the most wonderful thing will happen. You will wake up to the sound of a slamming door with a smile and you will realize that not getting what you wanted taught you to be the person that you needed. You will get up and open that door, revealing all of the possibilities you never saw before, and that day will be the best day of your life.

Story by Cori Mangini.

There’s a first time for everything, and I don’t just mean your “first time.” Of course, there’s vital, “right of passage” first times that everyone must encounter at some point, for example, moving to a new place, getting your heartbroken, and making your first humiliating, drunk decision. Yet first times are imperative to the better (or often, identical) mistakes we’ll make later, and teach us the lessons that we’ll continue to not learn from. Every week, we’re going to be telling real first time stories from real girls, and that includes everything from celebrity house parties to Instagram marriage proposals.


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