I was flipping through the CD collection in my car over the weekend, and I came across a disc I had forgotten exists.
I put this mix together while in an old relationship and had forgotten it was still in the case with the others. Popping it into the player, I recognized some of the songs because they are still popular today, while others I’m completely rediscovering. I’m sure I painstakingly assembled this collection with an exact reason for each track selected. I’m sure it took me days, maybe even weeks, to decide on the final list. But to tell you the truth… I don’t remember what those reasons were.
There are only two songs of the 14 that I can relate to a specific event in that relationship, but the others are just music.
When I made that CD I was either 16 or 17, chasing a guy that I had to beg to love me at every step. Don’t get me wrong, we were wonderful friends and I cherish the many good times we had together, but I was also convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to spend my life with him (if only I could make him see that).
Over the two+ years that I tried to make that relationship work, I had so many adults smile their all-knowing smiles and tell me that I was too young to possibly have any idea what love was. They all told me that when I got older I would look back and realize that my childish infatuation wasn’t love at all. Well, I’m older now, and I still have to disagree. I hate when the older generation tells the younger that it doesn’t know what love is, and I hope I never laugh at my children and say those same things. I believe, even now, that I was in love at the time. I was in love with all the heart that I had at 17. It wasn’t reciprocated, and it wasn’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real on my end.
It also doesn’t mean it was the kind of love to last forever – not all love does. One of the most important things that relationship, and that boy, taught me is that love isn’t meant to be something you work for. Yes, you have to work on it constantly, feed it and help it grow every day, but it’s not something you should have to grovel for, collect scraps for. I never had much luck with boyfriends in high school or in college; I think I killed the potential by trying too hard. (That mixed CD, for example, probably wasn’t a good idea.) But all those failures only taught me what an amazing thing it was to meet the man who is now my husband and be able to have an easy conversation, not feeling like I had to be constantly witty, not being bothered by the fact that my hair hadn’t been washed in two days. If I hadn’t had that first sort of relationship, I may not have recognized how special the second was – and still is.
So this is what I want any unmarried person who might be reading this to know: You don’t know what your future holds, and if it doesn’t hold that guy or that girl you’ve been trying to catch for years, then that’s ok. Because you know what? There’s a reason for that. Love can be real in many forms, but love is only lasting if you didn’t have to beg and plead for it in the first place. If you have to come up with a list of reasons why that person should want to be with you, then you are better off waiting for someone who knows those reasons on their own. I promise; I’ve made those lists and had those arguments and I can tell you that it’s so much better knowing you were enough all on your own.
I don’t have a CD of mine and the Mister’s soundtrack, but if I did, it would include the sound of canoe paddles splashing in the Duck River as we go backwards through the rapids; the excited bark of our dog as she chases him through the backyard; and probably my laughter as he threatens to put ice cubes down the back of my shirt. It would also have arguments and door slamming and the angry rev of an engine. It’s been put together on the fly – as life happens on its own. It’s not painstakingly assembled, and it’s not labeled with perfect sharpie hearts and swirls. It’s made from real life – real love and real mistakes – and it’s so much better that way.