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I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. Growing up, I watched a lot of movies about best friends falling in love with each other and happy endings. I guess, in a way, we all do. As such, even if I didn’t realize it, I chased after this idea of romance that was more fairy tale than reality. Maybe that’s part of why I believed the things I did, part of why certain things happened the way they did. As I got older, I became cynical and started to hope for these romantic ideas but also be fully aware they would never happen to me. Or maybe I just got tired of being disappointed. In hindsight, I've been blessed, I've had three great loves in my life.
I met my first love at my freshman orientation. We weren’t friends until a couple months later but he was the type of love I told everything to. He became my best friend because that’s what I needed him to be. I grew up as a military brat and as such, I moved around a lot. I didn’t keep a lot of friends.
As most high school relationships go, we only lasted about a year before things ended. I was crushed and we didn’t talk for a while, but slowly, we rebuilt the friendship that we once had in our relationship. By the time we were seniors we talked frequently and I trusted him with my life. Part of me thought that we would find our way back to each other one day, as first loves often do (according to the movies), and that would be that. We would have our fun in the meantime.
My second great love gave me a lot of strength and courage when I didn’t have any left to muster. I had been going through a time in my life where I was beaten down and ready to run. I had one year left of high school and I wanted to graduate a semester early. My second love came to me and helped me get through the year and came with me when my world fell apart yet again in college.
Speaking of college, my first semester I got a phone call. My first love was dead and there was nothing I could do. All those hopes of finding our way back to each other were gone and my world was shattered. I went into a very dark time and my second love was there for me. He helped pick up the pieces and we stood together through a lot of pain. I even married him, but it wasn’t for the right reasons. I had never let my first love go and I was convinced that the universe gave me a second chance by giving me a second great love. So, I stood up and said my vows thinking that no one else would love me after that and he did.
The problem is, sometimes people become toxic for each other. It’s not always intentional and I don’t think that we purposely hurt each other for a long time. I couldn’t let my first love go and I didn’t think anyone else could love me. I can’t speak for him. I got to a point I was willing to have a child with him to see if it would fix things if it could save us. I’m grateful I didn’t.
There’s a hidden person in the story and you guessed it, he’s lucky number three. Let’s go back, farther than you think, let’s go back before I even met the first.
I had a friend in middle school that was more an enemy than a friend. But there were things we provided (I like to think to each other but maybe it was just me). Strangely enough, we kept in touch throughout the years. Off and on, not constant contact for the first several years, but we always kept in contact and found our way back to each other in the way of phone calls, emails, and text messages. We popped in and out of each other’s lives for a long time before we started talking all the time.
It was probably about two years before I got married that we started talking regularly. At first, it was weekly, then daily, then to a point where going 24 hours without hearing from the other was almost weird. Even if it was just to check in. We became close. Hindsight is 20/20 and there are a lot of things I notice now that I didn’t then.
Fast forward, back to the heartbreaking days of wanting to fix my marriage because no one else could love me. Talking on the phone to lucky number three he knew how much pain I was in. I will never forget the conversation we had.
He told me he was telling me because his gut told him to. For the last five years, we’d been best friends constantly talking and he knew me pretty well. I told him everything. Let’s be honest, he knew me better than myself most days, and he told me that not only could someone else love me, someone else did love me. And because he knows me so well, he spent the next three hours telling me why he loved me. He knew I wouldn’t believe it otherwise.
I had gotten in the habit of making up reasons and excuses why every other relationship wasn’t going to work out. I had come up with plenty of reasons so many times why it wouldn’t work out with him. He spent 3 hours telling me why we would. Not only that but I had always wanted that movie moment where the best friend confesses their love and it’s perfect. He had no idea, and I never expected it to happen yet there I was, sitting in my room, listening to my best friend telling me everything in needed to hear. That phone call was the first step to finally getting me to leave my husband (something I had been considering for a while but was afraid to).
I left out one small detail. Lucky number three and I have never lived in the same state. When we were in middle school together, we lived in Germany, and as military kids, we moved around after that and were never in the same place again. That made our relationship seem more of an idea than a reality. For all we knew, we would meet in person and there would be no physical connection.
That was definitely not the case. I finally made a trip out to see him and he kissed me. I had felt close to that once before when I kissed my first love, but I hadn’t felt it since—not even with my *now* ex-husband. There was a fire inside of me when he kissed me that brought me alive, that opened my eyes and for the first time I could see again, I could breathe again.
In the months to follow there were a lot of ups and downs. Getting divorced is emotionally messy even when, legally, it’s not. It’s even harder when your best friend and the only person you want around is 700 miles away. But I like to think I’m pretty resilient and by the end of the year I was divorced and celebrating my birthday with my best friend. We scheduled visits and we spent a lot of time on the phone, but we’ve been making it work.
Long distance is really hard sometimes and honestly, I never saw myself in a long distance relationship. I’ve always had trust issues and there have been a lot of reasons why I’m validated in those trust issues. But there is a trust between us where that isn’t a concern. We miss each other but the time we do get to spend together makes the time apart worth it.
There are a lot of things about my story that could be judged but there are a lot of details that were also left out. The point of the story is that sometimes the hopeless romantic still gets the romance, just not when they expect it.
Lucky number three and I have been together for over a year now and he is moving here in just a few months. Not only is this the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had and I’m happier than I’ve ever been, but there is a certainty in it that I’ve never experienced. It’s true, it’s been over a decade in the making but it is truly incredible. When I’m with him not only am I comfortable to be myself but I’m also comfortable to get out of my comfort zone. I’m motivated to be better by also having my own voice. I can share my thoughts with him and we can both have a bad day but at the end of the day we talk about it and we are there for each other.
I’m a naturally paranoid person and, of course, I have worries. But the hopeless romantic in me can see that this is the story I’ve been waiting to play out. This is the movie that I’ve always wanted to happen only this time, it is happening to me. This time it is real. I can see it clearer than ever and the amazing part about it is that we want the same things, he supports me, he truly is my best friend.
Don’t give up. Let the hopeless romantic in your heart live. Sometimes you’ll hurt and sometimes it’ll seem like there’s never going to be another person that is going to love you. Sometimes you’ll think you’ll never love again. But let that hopeless romantic speak because the universe, fate, God, or whatever it is you believe in, will eventually give you your happy ending.
Don’t let the hopeless romantic in you die.