First Love

Discovering your high school sweetheart is married via Facebook is not the way I’d recommend learning this kind of information. A pint of coconut milk cookies ‘n cream ice cream later, I reflect and reminisce.

Matt Ephser. It was summer. It was humid. It was high school. He wore a red zip up hoodie, trendy jeans, and a tribal ring from Costa Rica placed fittingly on his pinky finger. Such a turn on.

The door bell rang. My mother had just lit another Capri Ultra Light cigarette after finally locating our newest addition to the family: a Yorkshire terrier named Gizmo who found himself trapped in the laundry basket.

My mother opened the front door exhaling smoke into Chicago’s north side evening air with purpose resting Gizmo on her hip using him more like an accessory than a dog.

“Oh, darling… you must be Matt. Alice’s told us all about you.”

“Oh… I hope good things.”

“Except your last name, honey.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. It’s Matt Ephser.” He pets Gizmo.

My mother burst into a fit of hysterical completely mortifying laughter and took another puff from her Capri causing Gizmo too hurriedly jet away and find a spot under the dinner table.

“Now Matt… That’s very naughty of you to joke like that.”

Matt stood there dumbfounded. Lost. Completely.

“Huh?” He smiled.

“Effs…her…?”

“Yes. That’s my last name.”

My mother realized this was in fact not a joke and was forced to light another cigarette, even offering one to Matt which he politely refused.

Matt Ephser. The guy who I loved more than anything, the guy who wore that silly, tan tribal ring from Costa Rica, the guy who had the weird last name my mom thought meant something way different on that humid night long ago, that guy I was convinced would be my happily ever after… is married.

Why does this surprise me? Am I happy for him? Am I upset? Why shouldn’t I be happy for him? We weren’t right for each other. I came to terms with that many years ago, and have since moved on to other long term relationships.

I know what the problem is. It’s the snowball effect. At least half my high school graduating class seems to be married by now (and I’m still in my twenties, mind you).

And here’s where is gets weird. I’m in my twenties. And I’m what I like to classify as strongly single. I’ve also never been happier, more confident and free in my entire life. There seems to be a wave happening and I seem to have missed it. I’m finding myself on a different path than what seems like everyone else and their mothers. I know my mother got married at 28.

Is it okay to be on a different path? Is it okay for Matt Ephser to be married? I know we’ve all dealt with the ex who’s now married… but there’s something about it happening to you that hurts a little, like a mini punch. One you recover from without crying afterwards.

I know what I’ve learned here. I’ve decided that it’s okay to be who I am and where I am even if it’s not the norm.

And also, quite possibly more importantly: Facebook is the devil!

Alice can be reached at AliceActress@yahoo.com.

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