It’s a tale as old as time: high school sweethearts who are madly in love and think that they can beat the odds and ‘make it work’ when they separate for college. They spend the entire summer prior to their freshman year pledging their love and devotion to each other, finally exchanging tearful goodbyes and promises to text, call, and video chat every day. Then they actually arrive at college, quickly realize that long-distance is hard and being in a relationship their freshman year sucks, and break up after a few months. Though the breakup is hard and painful, they both realize they are better off without each other, and they (luckily) don’t go to the same college so there’s no chance of running into each other ever again (other than awkward encounters during vacations, but those are usually pretty manageable).
Sounds great, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. When I broke up with my high school boyfriend, I felt completely free to do whatever/whomever I wanted, and I took full advantage of this for the rest of freshman year. I raged every weekend, made countless walks of shame (I even made friends with others like me and we would sometimes get breakfast on the way home), and made some great memories that I have heard about, but will personally never remember.
Fast forward several months to the second week of my sophomore year. Recruitment (AKA hell in heels) was over, and after two full weeks of sobriety and severe sleep deprivation, I was finally ready to have fun. The fraternities had just finished rush too, so I decided to go out to my favorite frat’s bid night. I spent about two hours getting ready (straightening my hair, doing my makeup, picking the perfect slutty-yet-classy outfit, etc).
Finally satisfied, and now running very late, my roommates and I pre-gamed as fast as possible, set off for the frat house, and boarded buses to head to their venue for bid night. We asked boys to buy us drinks and headed over to the dance floor, feeling very tipsy. The DJ had just started playing “Stacy’s Mom,” and drunk me was getting super into the song, when I felt someone tap me on my shoulder.
“Oh my gosh, hey!” yelled a voice in my ear.
I turned around, stumbling a bit as I did so, and standing there in front of me, to my utter shock and horror, was him — my ex. I instantly felt revulsion boil up inside me, matched only by my alcohol-intensified confusion.
“I— what are you doing here?” I asked with a puzzled look on my face.
“I go here! I transferred here this year, and I got into this frat! It’s great to see you, I’ve been looking around for you. I’m glad you came!” he excitedly screamed.
I’m sorry… you what? You transferred here? You’re continuing to remain in my world, even though we’ve broken up and, for all intents and purposes, you no longer exist?
“So anyway,” he continued, oblivious to my raging internal monologue. “Do you wanna get lunch and catch up? I really want us to be friends.”
Now, a braver person would have told the truth. Something along the lines of “No thanks, I don’t like you, I’m disgusted that you attend this school, the world is an unfair place, blah blah blah.” However, being me (and drunk), I instead choked out something like, “I… um, busy… job… can’t, I… no time.”
Then, I turned on my heel and walked to the bathroom, where I subsequently hid until the first bus came to carry me back to my apartment, away from that awkward encounter.
I wish I could say I’ve grown and matured from this experience, and learned to deal with it, but the amount of time I spend abruptly jumping behind pillars to avoid seeing him on campus (and being hit by bikers/longboarders as a result) would contradict that. Once they say, “I want to be friends,” the awkwardness never goes away (seriously, just ignore me in public please, we are not friends).
So please, everyone, appreciate your long distance high school breakups. They are truly a luxury and one you shouldn’t take for granted. .