As I woke up that next morning I knew exactly how to make this work. It would take a few weeks/months but I believed my plan would be successful. Rowyn would break-up with her boyfriend and then my friend could slide right in and start dating her. Obviously that was still up to her, so I needed to know more about her to make sure it would work.
So my plan had two parts: 1- break-up the relationship by taking what she liked about it, making it better with my group of friends and at the same time slowly breaking down anything she might like about this guy. Let’s call him Dwek for fun. 2- Learn as much about Rowyn as possible so I would know how to approach her and get my friend an opportunity to go out with her.
I started to explain bits and pieces of my plan to my friends that always met us at the ice cream shop. We set a specific time each day to meet there and hang out for a while. By this point I knew when most of the slow periods were and we could make it then. We would talk and goof off with both Rowyn and Allison. There were about 4 or 5 of us guys each day and we really liked being with the two girls. This helped replace the group she had with her current boyfriend, but we spent a lot more time with her. Each time we went I would make sure I talked to Rowyn for a while and make little plugs about the good things my friend had to offer.
She thought he was cute. He was short, maybe 5’5″ but he was a wrestler and was built. He lifted all the time and so muscles were of no shortage on him. Rowyn however was 5’7″, not that I thought it would matter but I thought I would mention it. My friend (lets call him Mick) was funny and very confident. He had recently got out of a 16 month relationship and I was not sure he was really over it. She had broken it off with him and he really did not see it coming. It was definitely strange and he took it hard. You did not want to wrestle him when he was in that type of state. He did not have a lot of technique to begin with so he relied on speed and strength. He just hurt people until they quit. However, if you were his friend he was fiercely protective and loyal. Really this group, we all played soccer together, was the closest friends I have ever had. We always backed each other up and never backed down no matter the odds. It is funny looking back now because it was such a macho attitude, but back then it was how we displayed how close we really were with each other.
During one of these days we were at the ice cream shop I got the nerve to ask for Rowyn’s number. This was way before cell phones and texting. I know Mick also got Allison’s number and we both thought we would talk to the other persons girl for a bit before we made our moves. This was difficult for me because I was in and out of my house and I found it very uncomfortable to be staying at someone’s house and use their phone for hours talking to someone else’s girlfriend. So anytime I wanted to talk to her, I had to go home. It was difficult but I thought it was a decent trade at the time.
I started talking to her and we would talk for hours. We might start at 9 pm and not finish until one of us fell asleep on the phone at 3 or 4 am. This was a nightly occurrence and I learned a lot about her. I was already very good at deflecting by this point so she learned very little about me, while thinking that she actually had. It is a skill I learned very young when people ask a lot of questions about bruises and stuff. These were some of the few memories I have of actually enjoying being home in my bed. While I hid most everything, she knew more about me than most of my friends did.
After a few weeks of us consistently hanging out at her shop her boyfriend started to catch on and made a couple of visits while we were there. However, he was quickly intimidated by the number of us and would not stay long. Each time I saw him it burned a little inside me. I really did not know him well, but for some reason I did not like him at all. He only lived a few blocks from me and so one night we were all sleeping at one of the guys houses and we decide to toilet paper, fork, and fruit is house. If you have no idea what that is I will explain.
Toilet papering should be pretty common. You take rolls of toilet paper and throw it through his trees and over his house. This is really good on nights you know it will be wet from dew the next morning. We bought about 75 rolls of toilet paper and covered the front of his house. We then took about 100 plastic forks and shoved then into the grass to hold down the toilet paper. You push them far in so they are not really noticeable and then they make a bad noise when you mow and hurt if you step on them. The last was something we threw in at the last minute. My family had tons of bottled fruit, most years and years old. It was all stored in glass jars. So we took a bunch of these and dumped it all over their driveway and made it a royal mess. It took us about an hour but it was well worth it in the end. At least I thought so at the time.
Other than the few times he showed up at the shop we never saw each other, which was probably for the best. One day we were just finishing our ice cream and he came rolling up with his friend and they went and talked to Rowyn for a while back behind the shack. As he was leaving I saw him lean in and give her a kiss on the cheek. It made me so angry for some reason. I could not explain it. They were boyfriend and girlfriend and I was not even supposed to end up with this girl in the end. After he left it kind of got quiet and awkward as she walked back up. I could tell she was having a hard time with it because it was in front of us even though it was just a small peck on the cheek. I think to break the silence she started talking about her softball game later that night that both her and Allison were playing in out by her house. There was no question about it, we were going. There were 4 of us that were always there, Mick, Pete, Juan, and myself. We got directions and the time before we left and then we headed off.
Now before I tell you about this eventful evening of going to her softball game, I need to tell you about some of the conversations we had over the phone up to this point. If you follow my blog, you know I had zero relationship experience, well she was not the same. She had recently broken up with her boyfriend of over 2 years. She started dating him when he was a senior and she was a sophomore. He was a star running back on the football team and the star baseball player, as well. He only lived a little ways down the road from Rowyn. He was Hispanic and his family, like most people in the area, worked on the local farms. They were very much a traditional Hispanic family, having 3 generations living under one roof. As the kids grew up and moved out they all moved within a mile of the home they grew up in. It was a very tight knit family unit.
We can call this guy Jose. Going into his senior year he had a full-ride football scholarship and was on his way out of this tiny town. He had a cute and doting girlfriend who would have done anything for him. Rowyn adored him and his family. She spent as much time at their house as she did her own while they dated. She became close to both his younger brothers, one of who was her age. Well, Jose and his friends decided to pull the ultimate senior prank. I will not actually tell you about it as it made the national news at the time, but he lost everything when they found out who did it. It was mostly players of the football team and any of them that had scholarships had them pulled. He no longer had an easy way out of town. Instead it would be working on the farms as most of his family did. While my wife won’t say for sure, I do believe that he was a bit abusive with her. I am sure it was difficult for him to be so close and then to have it all taken from him for a silly prank (okay, epic prank that closed the school for two weeks). Even with this she adored him and I believe that he actually loved her as well. My wife’s family also accepted him and his family into their home and cared for him as much as Jose’s family cared for Rowyn.
So for two years they dated. The last year was hard because he had already graduated and was now working in the farms. So every time they would go back and do something school related (softball games, track meets, dances,…) I think that it was a constant slap in the face for him. I never really knew why they broke up. Now I think about that it is odd that I don’t know. She has never told me that she did not love him or doesn’t love him, in fact it has been quite opposite. I also think if it would not have been his brother she would have dated his brother who was her age. They got along and hung out even after the break-up. This is actually still a sore spot for me because for the longest time, every time we went back to visit home, she would go over to their house and visit for a few hours and sometimes multiple times while we were there. It still bothers me just thinking about it.
Rowyn and Jose had been broken up for about 5 months or so. She had been dating Dwek for only a couple of months so I figured he must be the rebound guy. And in reality he was, she even admits it. I also believe that he was also the “look I am just fine without you guy” who she could be seen with by Jose. I am surprised that she did this as Jose had a temper. He had been arrested for beating a guy over a silly argument and was constantly fighting people in various places around town. He was not someone you messed with at all.
Rowyn and I had talked a lot on the phone and on days we were the only ones at the shop about her and Jose’s relationship. She had told me how much he and his family all meant to her. How much she could see herself just living that simple life cooking and raising the kids. She loved his whole family and that was one of the hardest parts of the relationship. She also missed him playing with her brothers and working with her dad in the field out back. I do believe that she really hoped she would marry him and live right in between the two families. She would have loved it because both groups had such a strong familial bond. This is obviously something I could not bring to the table.
Jose went one day to a college 8 hours away and made the baseball team and was offered a scholarship. He accepted and I believe this is what led to their break-up. I don’t know if it was mutual, neither wanting to hold the other person back, or if one of them instigated it but as he moved away they broke-up.
Why do I bring this up? Hold on and it will all make sense.
My friends and I went and changed and got cleaned up to head out to the softball game. Mick and I knew that both Allison and Rowyn knew we were coming so we could probably coax them to go out with us to pizza or something after. We drove the 10 or so miles outside of town to where the game was being played. We showed up fashionably late so we did not seem too eager. We did have an image to protect (LOL). We went and sat in the bleachers and saw the two of them immediately. We talked and enjoyed ourselves as only as 16 and 17 year old boys can do at a girls softball game. After we were there for a while, Mick noticed that Dwek and his friends were over on the other set of bleachers. This was going to be awkward, but I really did not know how much more awkward it was about to get.
The game ended and we waited on our set of bleachers for them to come over after the game. Allison headed over and pulled Mick aside and said something to him. I watched as Rowyn walked over and talked to Dwek for a few seconds and then turned and was walking toward us. At that moment, I knew my plan was working perfectly. I watched as she got to the end of the bleachers Dwek was sitting on and waved at me as she jumped down. She then turned and walked away toward a very large muscular Hispanic man…. Jose! He said something to her and then they went to his truck and left. I was left standing there just staring. Allison must have noticed and came up and confirmed to me that it was indeed Jose she left with. Dwek and his friends had cleared out. Mick was still planning on inviting Allison to pizza with us, thinking that now was my chance to spend some time with Allison. But all I could think about was the look on her face after she waved at me and then turned and went right up to him. I don’t remember much of the rest of the night and I was probably crappy company for Allison, but I really don’t know. What I did know was that a new piece to this giant puzzle had just came into play and now I needed to figure out how I was going to deal with it. I was a little lost for a few days, maybe hurt but I really don’t know because I don’t know that I could have processed that at that time in my life. So I did not come to the shop or answer any of Rowyn’s phone calls. I needed to sort this all out before I talked with her again because the biggest problem I saw was how I felt when I saw the two of them together. I was not supposed to feel anything for this girl, this beautiful, wonderful, exciting, lively, charismatic, funny girl. But I did, I just did not know what it was. It was something I had never felt before.
And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end. ― Junot Díaz