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Dear *Joshua,

Every year before summer break.

You’d dump me.

Grade seven and eight. Grade ten – when technically you waited until July. And the finale – grade eleven.

Let’s start with grade seven – when you ghosted me. Cusp of the 90s-style.

You stopped speaking to me in class. My calls went unreturned and unanswered. It was summer, and you disappeared from my life. No contact for two months. Which I spent dressed in black, pouting.

And crying.

Then rinse, lather, repeat in grade eight. And this time you played ball, shall we say? Almost hitting a home run with a girl down the lane. Seriously, we hadn’t even kissed, yet you mauled Lola?

No, Joshua, no. I wasn’t taking you back in grade nine.

But we somehow reconciled in grade ten. I thought you changed, I was going through stuff. You seemed different. I liked different. We became an item. Then, one July night after watching a movie … dunnn … dunnn … dunnn … and we were done. How does date night become breakup night? Then you hooked up with a girl whose breasts rivalled the Himalayas. Where as mine rivalled anthills.

After a month with stacked-girl, we entered grade eleven. And you were “sorry.” The Kleenex tissue moment passed, we were recycled boyfriend-girlfriend.
As the end of grade eleven neared, I thought we survived the hard times. Sure, we bickered. What couple doesn’t? Sure, we argued. But they weren’t screaming matches. Minus our final breakup. And when your snowmobile died. How was that my fault again?

But we couldn’t break the habit. Making up, breaking up, waiting for next time. And you “let me go” on a cool June night in grade eleven.

According to photos, letters and little love notes, I was ” … the only one that mattered” in your life. I was your “world.” But I wasn’t, was I? You don’t shatter your world. We could’ve had two carefree months together. For four or five years. But time and time again you chose to cast me like a minnow. To see if you could catch something better – with larger fillets.

I’m sure you thought Tesshua would reboot in grade twelve. That we’d rekindle our battered romance.

Maybe you forgot about your hormone-driven teenage fairy Godfather and those five strangers you slept with, but I didn’t. Or that you rebounded with Himalayan Boobs Girl – a week after your little romp a la cinq. Who you dumped days before grade twelve.

In grade nine, I accepted the death of our Degrassi Junior High relationship. I closed the book – and moved on.

But that cool June night in grade eleven? I cried every day for two weeks. That’s forever in teenage years. In hindsight, it was a waste of tissue.

Because you gave me a gift. A summer to soul search. I discovered my worth before I entered my final year. I had a two innocent, sexless rebounds – which taught me more about myself, friendship and love than I can articulate. I rediscovered my friends, who took a backseat during our so-called romance. We made up for lost time – shopping, lunching, going to parties, socials, movies and the beach.

Most importantly, I rediscovered who I was. And who I deserved. And it wasn’t you.

I invested those two months in myself. You invested them in Trojan. Unfair comment? Possibly. Maybe you were soul searching too. Deciding who you were as you hopped from tent to tent. People learn about themselves in different ways.
I’m not sorry we didn’t reconcile after grade eleven. Yes, those two weeks. That one kiss. It’s a relapse, not a reconciliation.

I gave you my grade seven, eight, ten and eleven. Damned if you were getting my final year. On September 1, 1993 – I started grade twelve – focused, determined and free. Because it’s freeing to realize I didn’t have to be accountable to someone who was never accountable to me.

The two of us barely spoke. You knew that I knew what you did that summer. Though we were cordial, I wasn’t about to snuggle you to my chest and say, “Oh, Joshua, don’t worry your pretty little head off.” No pun intended.

When *Marcus and I started to date, you and I had a very brief conversation about the relationship. And then, you disappeared.

You transferred to a different school. You knew I wasn’t coming back. There would be no rekindling or reconciling. No eighty-seventh chance. No overtime save.

I didn’t realize it, but you ghosted me for the last time.

And for the first time, I didn’t cry.

Always,

Tessa

**********
*Names changed for privacy

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