It is so good to be free (“Alone and Together,” continued)

The day before I graduated from college, I turned in my history thesis. Before handing it in, I kept thinking that something dramatic was going to happen to mark the occasion, namely, the end of my seven-and-a-half-year stretch of college.

As it turned out, it did.

The next day, my very last day of college, I found out that the thesis had been voted “best paper” by my classmates. That night, the professor took all of the students out for pizza and beer. Though I wasn’t friends with anyone in that class, I went to the party and then to the bar afterwards, too. They had voted for my paper, after all.

And that was the night I met Jake.

We sat next to each other at the table and flirted. When the bar finally closed he walked me home and took my phone number, then called the next day. After that, we dated for a while.

It was hard.

For a long time, I had successfully avoided relationships with men, and I was happy. Now that I was dating someone again, I had all the guilt that I used to have and some additional confusion as well.

I didn’t know if I loved him. I didn’t know if I would ever love him. I wasn’t sure if he was right for me, but I didn’t want to let him go.

I went back and forth in my head, trying to figure out what to do.

After about three months, I left town and went traveling, partly because I’d already planned to and partly to get away from him. We decided to keep dating but when I came back, we decided not to anymore. After that, I bought a house in my hometown and lived alone once more. And, once more, I decided not to date anymore. The desire had left me again, and, again, I was free.

It was a very good time in my life, a time I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. It was a time to learn about myself, and be responsible for no one but me.

It was my time to do nothing.

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