Part Ten: April Fools, Graduation and Separation
My birthday is April Fools Day, but in all of my twenty-something birthdays, I’ve only done a few good pranks. This year was one of them.
Prince Charming was working as the manager of a Subway restaurant not too far from campus, so many times Pooky and I would head down there to hang out and get free food. For my birthday, Pooky and I treated ourselves to a facial and other pamperings at a nearby day spa, then headed over to Prince Charming’s work.
On the way, we concocted a brilliant plan.
When we got there, I leaned heavily on Pooky’s shoulder, limping on one foot.
“What happened?” Prince Charming gasped as Pooky half-carried me inside.
“Nothing, I just tripped on my way out of the spa and twisted my ankle. It’s fine.”
I hobbled to a booth and sat down, elevating my ankle on the opposite bench. Prince Charming sat down beside me, and Pooky slid in across. I made quite a show of gasping in pain as she bumped my ankle.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Prince Charming protested.
“Yeah, it’s fine,” I said through gritted teeth.
Pooky examined my ankle. “It’s swelling up pretty bad, Avily… Maybe you should see a doctor.”
“No, it’ll be ok. I’ll just go home and put some ice on it,” I insisted.
I made such a big deal of it being NOT a big deal, that Prince Charming got really worried. He was about ready to clock out and take me to the emergency room when I grinned and said, “APRIL FOOLS!”
He was pretty mad, but he got over it.
Prince Charming and I dated all that semester, and things seemed to be going pretty well. At least, I thought so. But as graduation neared, we both knew change was coming. At some point we had to figure out where we were headed, both each of us personally and as a couple.
Prince Charming had a job offer in California. I now had a choice. I could follow him to California and look for a job myself, even though he hadn’t asked me to come or indicated to me that he particularly wanted me to, or I could go my own way, and see whether absence really made the heart grow fonder or not.
I made the decision that I wasn’t going to follow him out there unless I knew he really wanted me to. That meant either an explicit request that he wanted me to come with him, or, better yet, an engagement ring.
I got neither.
So, as he prepared to move to California, I prepared to move back to my hometown.
I really didn’t know what to expect at that point. It was a make-it-or-break it type situation. I didn’t want to insert myself into a place I wasn’t invited, but I didn’t want to just end it because we’d be going long-distance. Besides, who knew? Maybe the long-distance thing would be good for us. I’d put my eggs in this basket, though, and I was willing to do whatever it took to make it, even if it meant moving away and letting Prince Charming realize he couldn’t live without me and beg me to marry him.
Graduation neared, and I made my plans while Prince Charming made his, both of us still committed to our relationship despite the impending separation.
And then I found out that since Pooky, Prince Charming, a few other friends and I were all graduating that year, Never Gonna Happen was going to come down for graduation. Despite my best intentions regarding Prince Charming, I couldn’t help being apprehensive.
Harmony Davidson was the only one who really knew of my hidden feelings for Never Gonna Happen. I assured everyone else we were just friends, but Harmony Davidson knew better. We took long walks in the middle of the night around the neighborhood, talking about the situation.
I wasn’t going to dump Prince Charming. I had made a commitment to him, and I wasn’t going to break it, but oh, how my heart flip-flopped!
Harmony Davidson and I took a long walk one night as I vented my complicated feelings. Like the good friend she is, she didn’t say much, but just let me talk as I extolled the virtues of my current boyfriend and tried to downplay the lingering feelings for Never Gonna Happen.
“I love Prince Charming,” I insisted, trying to convince myself more than her.
She nodded politely, and we continued on. By the time we returned home, I’d managed to tell myself enough times that Never Gonna Happen was never gonna happen, and Prince Charming and I were a match made in Fairyland.
Naturally, my family came out to observe the ritual of me walking down an aisle to shake hands with a bunch of old people and get handed a piece of paper informing the world that I had, indeed, completed (with honors) the work assigned to me over the past three years.
Later that evening, we all went to the graduation party Prince Charming’s family was throwing for him.
Never Gonna Happen was there, too, but I tried to ignore his presence as I danced with Prince Charming and accepted the accolades of our mutual friends. I focused my attention solely on Prince Charming, despite that he seemed considerably more interested in everything and everyone else than in me.
That night, my mother shared with me her observations. “I just don’t think Prince Charming is treating you the way someone who is in love ought to be treating you,” she informed me. “But Never Gonna Happen sure seemed attentive…”
“No, he’s always like that,” I insisted. “We’re just good friends. Prince Charming and I are still very much together.”
Then my sister, without any input from our mother, made a similar observation.
What was going on here? Why was everyone trying to sabotage my perfectly good relationship with Prince Charming? And why did everyone seem to think that Never Gonna Happen liked me, when clearly he didn’t or he would have said something when I gave him the chance the last time in town?
Anyway, it didn’t matter. I was still with Prince Charming, and had no intention of breaking up, even when he moved to California and I moved back home.
The first week of separation wasn’t too bad. I got my first cell phone so I wouldn’t have to pay for long distance, and called mainly during off-peak hours.
I got a job working at a Residential Treatment Center, doing the overnight shift. Awake.
Working nights was really hard to get used to, but it was a really good job, with pretty good pay for someone fresh out of college. Plus, it was more or less in my chosen field (counseling), so I figured it was a good place to be.
Well, after about the first week, things got harder. I had an increasingly difficult time getting a hold of Prince Charming.
Sure, he was really busy settling into his new job. Sure, he had to find living accommodations and make new friends and new connections. Of course a long-distance relationship was going to take some adjustment. So, I put up with the lack of communication, the lack of attention, and the lack of any sort of effort on his part to maintain a relationship.
As the days went on, our contact became more and more sparse. Prince Charming didn’t answer my phone calls, emails or letters. He stopped calling me, he stopped writing me.
I kept trying. Trying to be understanding. Trying to be supportive. Trying to maintain a relationship with a man who wouldn’t even talk to me.
For a month.
Finally, I decided I’d had enough. At long last, I sent him a letter, (since I couldn’t get a hold of him any other way), kindly explaining that I didn’t think it was working anymore, and I wanted to break up.
At some point after he received the letter, we had a brief conversation in which be both agreed it was the best thing, and officially ended our relationship.
Somewhere about the same time I was ending things with Prince Charming, I happened to send Never Gonna Happen an email forward that would change both of our lives forever….