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simple as that - dgDear *Gillian,

We’ve never met.

But at *Mia’s funeral, you recognized me. As I sat with my family, a girl from across the aisle glanced at me and whispered to someone.

Then you leaned and stared at me. Glared might be more accurate, but I digress.

To be fair, I knew who you were right away.

I’m a reporter. It’s my job to ask questions. Poke around. Fine … I creeped you on Facebook, happy?

In case you’re still wondering – yes. I’m the one who dated *Joshua in school. Off and on from grades seven to eleven, minus nine and twelve. I didn’t realize our Degrassi-like relationship was infamous.

Through the small town grapevine, I heard you’re curious about Joshua’s past. Namely, what was he like in school. Was he the class clown? Introverted. Extroverted. An a**h**e. Sweet. Bitter.

In a nutshell, Joshua was complicated. Very, very complicated. However, under those complexities, he was caring, smart and affectionate. And passionate. Gym wasn’t complete without Joshua screaming, “Pass it, already! F**k!”

Joshua acted tough, but it was an Academy Award winning performance. He was sensitive – and he hated sitcom series finales. And Joshua idolized his grandfather.

I officially met Joshua in grade six when our teacher arranged our desks in groups of four. Joshua and I sat across each other in the same quad. Swapping crushes. Joshua’s eye was on a girl in the other grade six class, while I pined over the new kid on ours.

Joshua was a class clown. Who cracked up a dull sex-ed class with sound effects. A borderline extrovert-introvert. The one who made others laugh. The life of the party. But Joshua’s own happiness seemed short-lived. More worried if someone was upset with him, or if so-and-so was sad. Looking back, he was a kid trying to juggle too many balls.

You probably know Joshua was a goalie from kindergarten to grade twelve, and he missed the cut when he tried out for a higher league. The team chose three goalies – and he was the fourth runner up. I’m not sure he ever recovered.
I’d describe Joshua as a jock. Basketball, volleyball, badminton, track. He was especially good at pole vault. But when Joshua didn’t meet the standard to advance to the provincials – he quit. Joshua’s thinking was, “Damn, why can’t I do anything?” Meanwhile, I’d watch him practice and think, “Damn, my boyfriend can fly!” While Joshua encouraged others – for him – second place wasn’t an option. He didn’t accept so-called failure well.

Joshua was a perfectionist. With everything. Jeans. Four pairs of the same brand – two blue, two black. Worn once then washed. Shirts. Immaculate. Evenly rolled sleeves. Carpets. Vacuumed then scanned. A speck of dirt meant a redo. Spotless room. Perfect hair.

You probably heard about our epic arguments. Ah, yes. Joshua and I fought. A lot. Sometimes over something. Most times over nothing. To capture our high school experience – unbeknownst to us – someone snapped a photo of us bickering and submitted it to the yearbook committee. Kodak moment captured.

Joshua had anger issues, but I never worried about my safety. I listened to him vent, then I’d give him my opinion – or say he was overreacting. And we’d argue. Then make up. And Joshua would forget why he was originally angry. Master plan, or two Aries battling for supremacy?

All I’ll reveal about the “us” part our relationship is it was as wonderful as it was weird, and I don’t regret a thing. I can’t clarify where we went wrong. We just did.

Also to clarify, no – we were never “intimate” as my mother would say. Yes, Joshua was my first love. And I’ll always care about him. But I’m not interested in a reconciliation. Except as friends.

It’s possible today’s Joshua isn’t how I’ve described him. Maybe he’s changed because of his divorce. Or he’s unhappy with his career path. I know he was grossly misunderstood in school. He was like a locked diary that required a hacksaw.

Maybe you love him, and he loves you. But like I said, I creeped on your Facebook. Your status isn’t “single” or “in a relationship,” so I presume Joshua’s still complicated.

But what is complicated? It’s different from the norm. It’s outside the frame. It’s against society’s thoughts and ideals. There isn’t a standard, one-size fits all relationship cookie cutter. No mold. No how-to manual. But complicated can be unnecessary drama. And the tennis match can last only so long.

My sage advice? As complicated as Joshua seems, if he says “I love you,” it’s a game changer. He doesn’t hand those words out to any passing fancy.

I don’t know you, Gillian, but you don’t strike me as a passing fancy.

So, let him win that round.

Always,

Tessa

**********

*Names changed for privacy.

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