In yesterday's post, I started telling you the long and probably boring story of Coach - the first guy I fell head-over-heels for. I'm writing this becuase I've been thinking over my realisation for awhile and I need to have it written down. So, whether you are interested or not, here's the rest of the story:
When I was in grade 11, I remember telling Coach about the guy I was planning to invite to my grade 11 dance (a fellow redhead who didn't last long as a boyfriend because people kept thinking we were brother and sister - eww!).
As a ballroom and Latin champ, Coach got invited to a lot of dances. He was heading off to a Matric dance (the South African version of a prom) at a rival school to mine that week. He said that particular school held the best dances. I asked if he'd ever been to one of the dances at my school and he said no. I told him that OUR dances were INFINITELY better and informed him that he would be coming to my Matric dance the following year. He didn't have a choice.
One year later, I hadn't forgotten about my promise. But... despite my unwavering dedication to Coach, I was getting a bit frustrated with the fact that even though everyone agreed that he had feelings for me too, he hadn't done anything about it (he has always been rubbish with girls). I had started to attend a small group from my church and there was a guy in the group who had piqued my interest. Let's call him Brian (because that was his middle name).
Brian was the polar opposite of Coach... Shy, artistic and in no way a sportsman. We had friends in common and we saw each other regularly. He had a quirky sense of humour and was so gentle with me (unlike Coach, who would just pick me up and throw me over his shoulder if he felt like it). I decided I really, really liked Brian. And when he invited me to his Matric dance, it confirmed that the feeling was mutual. In our oh-so-high-school-way, we tentatively started to date.
But I had already invited Coach to my Matric dance, and I explained this to Brian. He seemed to be ok with it - he was really laid back. I called Coach to remind him of the fact that he was my dance partner and then gushed about Brian for ages. Coach was less chatty than usual. Eventually he managed to gruffly interrupt me and say, "By the way, I hope you know that you're MY Matric dance partner too?"
I hadn't known, actually. He'd never mentioned it before.
As it was, it turned out that his dance was the night after mine. I was thrilled to be invited (because the more dances you went to, the more your pathetic high-school status improved) and set about organising dress number three. Then Tim (his real name), a very odd friend of mine, invited me to his college dance and I was over the moon. Four dances - I was no longer just a teenage dirtbag. Of course, it turned out that Tim's dance was the night after Brian's dance, just to make life that much more complicated.
All the dances were great fun, although I discovered that Brian didn't dance. He also sulked about the fact that I was going to dances with other guys. I had an absolute blast at my dance and Coach's, despite comments from all our teachers about the fact that we'd picked the most unsuitable partner possible in terms of height.
After the spate of dances, Brian and I continued to date and I honestly thought I was over Coach, although we were still great friends. We talked each other through our final exams and then parted ways after high school - me to do a gap year in Pretoria with a church and him to study sports management (what else!).
Brian and I dated long distance for a year before I realised that he wasn't right for me. By that time I'd met TSC and we'd been through the I hate you / you're not so bad / let's be friends cycle and were best buddies. Coach and I had kept in touch but weren't close anymore.
TSC and I eventually started dating (long-distance) when I headed to Cape Town to study. Coach and I were at a stage where we only talked once every few months. Then TSC moved down to Cape Town and things got serious between us.
I had always stuck to my routine of going on camp for the holidays, although by this stage was a leader. Coach hadn't come on camp for awhile, but we'd always said we'd do one last one together.
And we did. And I discovered that even though I was madly in love with TSC, I still found my heart speeding up when Coach was near. I still got that tingly feeling when he touched my arm or spoke my name (he had nickname for me that only he could get away with). Our friendship returned to the way it had always been. He was actually dating his first girlfriend by this time, but we spent more time together that camp than they did, laughing and arguing for hours again.
I saw him a few times after that and decided that I would need to accept that I would never really be able to totally get over him.
The last time I spoke to him, it was to invite him to my wedding. He didn't come. I was a bit hurt, but secretly quite relieved.
TSC and I were incredibly happy together (still are). Coach called me to say he was off to spend a year overseas. I wished him well. I had no way of contacting him (I'm not on FaceBook) and I wasn't that interested, to be honest.
After about a year, I remembering wondering if he was back yet. And then forgetting about it.
Until he called me last week. And then it hit me like a car door in the soft part of a shin...
There were no butterflies...
There was no giddy headrush...
There was no tingly feeling at the sound of his voice...
Just happiness to talk to an old friend.
We chatted for over an hour, catching up on what he was up to and how our lives had changed. I jabbered about TSC and our cats and our house, and he chattered away about his overseas trip and his new job. We shared a few laughs and memories and it was great. And then we hung up.
And this overwhelming peace settled over me that I married the best person I possibly could whom I love with every cell in my body (go ahead and gag - it's true) and that Coach and I were never meant for each other.
We've both grown up. We've both changed. And while I look forward to enjoying my great friendship with him, I know that we'll never be as close as we were and that there is no romantic "what if" floating between us.
Things are as they were meant to be. For each of us. And it's awesome to know that.