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8:38 p.m. - 2012-04-11
Ahhh... Facebook. I just discovered that my first real boyfriend, Tom, is now living in Senegal (sp) teaching English and job skills to college students. Has been since '08 I guess. I knew he taught French in Massachusetts for a while, but I guess he speaks German, too, and whatever they speak in Senegal ... he has 762 friends from all over the world, albums from all over the world...

In other words, he is living almost exactly the kind of life I want to live; I am slightly jealous, slightly surprised and very inspired, and damn do I wish I had said "yes" when he asked me to marry him in the middle of Larry Allen's bean field when I was 15! Actually I think I did say yes... I meant it then, and I hoped it would still be true when I was old enough to actually do it, but in the fall he went to college and I went to boarding school and I got depressed and suicidal and locked up in the looney bin and I dumped him because I couldn't imagine telling him.

To be honest, that wasn't the only reason -- I hated kissing, I hated making out, I hated steaming up the windows of his car with him -- I had been crazy with him but being physical with him pretty much left me grossed out and ambivilent.

Until right now, I never really regretted him -- he was a staunch Republican, for one thing, and I think I always pictured him settling down with a very domestic wife and an all-American family. It surprised me that he was teaching French because even though he got good grades in French, his accent was terrible and he was clearly not gifted in languages.

I liked to think of him as a wonderful story, my own fairy tale -- he was the senior class president, I was a freshman and a nerd who had just lost the glasses and gotten boobs -- I fell for him hard and pursued him all the way to Larry Allen's bean fields, where we worked together for a couple of dirty and blissful weeks before he quit.

Gone. Forever.

Until three days later he called me and told me he had gone to a party and didn't get drunk (he was a legendary drinker) because he didn't feel like it, didn't feel like being there, thought there were better things he could be doing with his time...

"Like what?" I said.

"Like being with you."

He was definitely my fairy tale prince. He was so out-of-reach I was surprised he even noticed me, much less chose me. He made me feel beautiful and desirable, which I had never imagined was possible. I remember him coming over to my friend Thalya's apartment, and scooping me up in front of all of my friends and carrying me down the stairs to the street, half new-husband carrying the bride over the threshhold and half caveman -- while all my girl friends' jaws dropped to the floor. I suppose I hadn't told them I was dating him before he did that -- they probably wouldn't have believed me...

Now that I've see it on his Facebook page, it doesn't really surprise me that much that Tom has learned three languages, been all over the world and is teaching in Senegal. He was born without a thyroid gland and as a result (I don't really know the medical mechanics) he was tiny for his age and didn't learn to walk until he was 4 or 5, so he was used to starting behind everyone else and making up for it by working harder and wanting it more. Once the thyroid problem was diagnosed and he started taking daily medicine he caught up growth-wise, but it affected his life in a lot of other ways. He was notoriously clumsy and got razzed about at school and bawled out about it at work on a daily basis -- he was the kind of guy who would never have told anyone it was the result of a medical condition; he'd just apologize and try harder. So it really isn't surprising that he speaks three languages and teaches in Senegal even through he wasn't that great at French in high school -- he could do just about anything; it's only surprising to me that that's what he decided to do. I always thought he'd be a conservative politician...

I am jealous and slightly regretful, but also inspired... whoda thunk...Tom in Senegal?



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