Ah, the rebound relationship.
No strings attached. Just someone to numb the pain from your previous relationship.
However, sometimes it’s a Bermuda Triangle rebound.
June. The summer before grade 12. My boyfriend, *Josh, broke it off. For good. Forever. We’d been an item for fifteen months. Since it was a Joey-Caitlin relationship though, add another eight months or so from junior high.
I was devastated. Where’s Taylor Swift when you need her? Guns N’ Roses. Bryan Adams. Roxette. Their ballads were futile. And our three songs wrecked me on repeat.
In July, my father dragged me into our small town for the annual parade. My classmate, *Kent, was there, and we discussed Josh briefly. Kent said:
“Tessa, your life doesn’t revolve around him,” and Kent placed a hand on my knee.
At the time, we were sitting on his girlfriend’s parents’ lawn. And *Fiona stood just feet away. Oops. But it was Kent. We’d been friends since kindergarten. We sat together during class. I dissected frogs with him. I acted; he did lights. It was Kent.
Three days later, Kent and Fiona broke up. And, as the saying goes, one thing led to another, and he and I started to see each other. It never occurred to me this was a rebound. I believed we were two empty hourglasses suspended in time.
A week later, out of the blue, I heard from *Zane.
Zane and I met when I was in grade nine. He, too, was from a small town. Zane was an artist. An illustrator who played the guitar. He drove a vintage Chevy. Wrote poetry. A romantic. We’d sit under the stars on my parents’ yard, and he’d strum out songs.
I thought, I’m single. I’m going into grade twelve. Let’s have some fun. The two country boys were miles apart. If forced, Kent could probably change a tire with a fork. Zane would chill by the roadside and write a song about the experience.
Zane, the delicate flower. Whose lips I never kissed, and who I never touched. But there was a night we almost kissed. And we all remember the nights we almost kissed someone. Lips so close, I felt his breath on my skin. But I couldn’t, and I let him remain a piece of untouched porcelain. Art deco glass. A straight line of wet paint.
Kent, the resilient Monsanto canola, whose sweet lips I needed to erase my bitterness. We never passed first base, and it didn’t matter. I needed to feel wanted. Like I mattered. I was mourning. And so was Kent, but he put his vibrant energy and focus on me. He was a joker. A class clown. And respected among our peers. Able to turn any frown upside-down. With a vivacious laugh that’s impossible to describe.
Around Kent, I could check out. Here’s my mind, Kent. Take it off Josh. Take it wherever. Movies, long drives, talking, crying. Tell me funny stories about Florida and China again.
By first week of August, the Bermuda Triangle shifted. And realization slapped me in the face.
With Zane, it was that hot, August night when our lips almost met. In that moment, I knew I could never officially be with him. He was an unmoulded piece of clay. Innocent. Pure. Who didn’t deserve to be stuck in my chaotic triangle. The so-called fling ended, and over the years we’ve kept in touch.
With Kent, it was a few days later. He looked at me with his intense brown eyes.
“What would you say if I asked you out?”
“I would say I don’t know,” I said.
Kent nodded. “I don’t know either.”
And we laughed, because we both knew why, but we need to realize we’d run our course. Our pain subsided, and we parted as friends. Knowing we’d see each other in school or the next social. And we’d talk. And we still do.
Every relationship is a lesson. They’re never a waste of time because you learn about yourself. Even rebounds.
With Zane, he came into my life when I needed clarity. Calm. To learn an appreciation for life, and that losing Josh wasn’t the end. Zane and I would drive to the beach, sit in the trunk of his car and stare at the lake. I learned to focus on what’s ahead. Not what’s behind. I healed, even if temporarily – because that December my life was thrown into the bowels of hell. That summer, Zane helped me see a peek of Heaven. He was purity in the truest sense of the word. A work of art. And he was proof good still existed.
With Kent, he helped me through a time when I believed I was worthless. Kent let me cry. Wiped my tears. I could be silly. Be myself. Be who I thought I’d lost when Josh left me. Kent’s friendship saved me. We saved each other. He taught me the power of friendship. Our friendship. And I refused to officially be his girlfriend and risk losing him.
But I failed to apply the lesson I learned so easily from my rebound with Kent to another long-term friendship the following year. I mixed the friend-boyfriend dynamic with a guy, who at one time had been my best friend. When we broke up, that bond was destroyed.
That’s the danger of the Bermuda Triangle Rebound. Though you can escape, someone always gets hurt.
And sometimes it’s long after the triangle collapsed.
*Names changes for privacy