After reading through the many stories of love (and somehow feeling connected to each of them), I am pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Love Never Fails giveaway! Everyone, meet Riane and Evan!
While reading their story I found myself squirming in my seat with the awkward tension of a 14-year-old, and I probably called both of them a “jerk” at least once! Yet throughout the story, love won!
Without going too far, I would like to say thanks to all of the guest judges who chimed in as well:
Meghann Vanderban of Blush & Bashful Events
Amanda Yu Dieterich of Made with Love Paperie & Design Studio
Tanya Luz of Domestic Arts (Custom Cakes & Sweet Things)
…and of course to Janessa Knodt of Forget Me Knodt! Janessa just posted a blog with a little bit about each of these judges, have a look.
I don’t say this lightly, but we had so many wonderful entries. Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter and share their love story with us! May you all continue to grow in your love and togetherness, remembering that love, truly, never fails!
Now have a read through Riane and Evan’s story:
We met when we were twelve.
I was scrawny and awkward, with eyebrows too big for my face, and a mouthful of braces in ill-advised school colors (red and gold). I loved N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys. I wore extra-large basketball jerseys and long boy shorts. I was the picture of femininity.
He was scrawny and awkward, too, but in a different way: he wore tight-fitting shirts with nonsensical, non-school sports related phrases like “Never Touch Anyone” written on them. He was listening to The Get Up Kids and Pedro the Lion. His AIM screen name (MagicalMrE1) was a Beatles reference. He kept an online journal. He wrote poetry.
We were thirteen.
We spent a week together on a church trip in Mississippi. During the long van ride south, I insisted that we listen to pop girl group Dream’s breakout album, “It Was All A Dream.” He insisted that we listen to this newly released album called “Parachutes” by this new band called Coldplay he had just picked up at a Wal-Mart. I told him it was too depressing. We listened to “It Was All A Dream.” He still has the lyrics memorized.
Two romantic things happened that week: one, as I climbed into the van that day, he, the picture of sensitivity and knowing what should be said to pubescent girls, informed me that my arms were “incredibly hairy.”
And two, as we drove through St. Louis on the drive home, he told me that it was his dream to pick someone’s nose at the top of the St. Louis arch, so we climbed to the top of the St. Louis arch and I let him pick my nose. It was a weird start to a friendship.
We were fourteen.
I had lost my braces; he had gotten his. We were becoming inseparable. Every Sunday, he came to me with a new pickup line. Once, he bought a can of Crush from the church’s vending machine, and put the can on top of my head, and said, “I have a crush on you.” Another time, he brought me a trading card of the alien-monster “The Thing,” and gave it to me, saying, “I have a thing for you.” I thought this game was hilarious.
But I didn’t think he actually liked me. Sure, there was the pick-up line thing. Sure, there were the stick-figure drawings he made of us together, with sad, sweet song lyrics written above them. Sure, he gave me thoughtful gifts, and sure, we talked almost every day, and sure, we both thought the other was the funniest person alive. But I was 14, and clueless. And also, I was in secret, unrequited love with his best friend.
Then, in classic 14-year-old fashion, he sent me an email and told me he liked me. I don’t remember all of the email’s details, only that it ended with lyrics from a Weezer song:
“I’m a lot like you, so please,
hello, I’m here, I’m waiting.
I think I’d be good for you,
And you’d be good for me.”
I emailed him back and told him I was very honored, but I didn’t feel the same way, and then I turned off my computer and cried. I called my friends and told them the thing I would repeat over and over for the next ten years: I WANT to like him, I feel like I SHOULD like him, and I don’t know WHY, but I just DON’T.
We were 15.
He was writing poems and songs about spurned love and missed opportunities and being too late. I was trying to avoid him because of … well, how he was in love with me. But still, I called him when other boys broke my heart. He listened. I went over to his house when I was lonely. He let me. We ate burnt pizza and drank Cherry Pepsi and giggled over jokes only we thought were funny. Everyone we knew thought we would end up together. He thought we should be together. I told sometimes him that I really thought we might get married someday, but I didn’t have feelings for him, so it just wasn’t going to happen, and he wrote poems and songs about spurned love and missed opportunities and being too late.
We were 16.
He told me that even if it sounded egotistical, he knew I was supposed to end up with him. I said, “I know.”
He called me on my birthday and told me he loved me. I said, “Okay,” and then I hung up.
His poems that year were all about giving up.
We were 17.
He gave up, and then he started dating his first real girlfriend.
I panicked. I cried. I yelled at him. I told him she was wrong for him; I told him he was making a huge mistake; I told him he was just doing this for all the wrong reasons; I told him we were supposed to end up together, and that could never happen if he started dating someone else. He asked me what would change between us if he didn’t date her. I told him I couldn’t promise anything.
They dated for two years. I wrote poems about indecision and regret and the curse of time. I hated her. I hated him. I told my friends I thought I loved him. They all told me that we were supposed to end up together, and it was really rotten of her to get in the way of that. Evan and I didn’t speak much.
Then we went to Europe together on another church trip. I watched him write her sweet notes and hold her hand and pick her flowers and I cried each of the twelve nights we were there. On the plane ride home, I wrote him a six-page letter explaining how I felt: how hurt I was that we weren’t friends, how much I missed our friendship, how much I thought he shouldn’t be with her, and how I was afraid that I might like him, now that it was too late.
I walked off the plane in Chicago and threw the letter in the first garbage can I saw.
We were 18.
He and the girl broke up. I liked someone else. We became friends again. We laughed about how awkward we had been, joked often about how hard we had made things for each other. We went to movies together, we talked on the phone; I ate burnt pizza and drank Cherry Pepsi in his basement, and everyone told me they were surprised the two of us never ended up together.
I left for college in Indiana, and he stayed in Illinois. We spent the bittersweet final weeks of the summer together, and he came with my family to help me move into my dorm. He left me with a stack of CDs and a long, beautiful letter about how important our friendship was. I read it and I cried because it was beautiful, and because I wasn’t in love with him.
We were 21.
My heart had been broken by a summer crush. Evan had just started dating someone from back home. I was raging jealous. In the middle of an 8:55AM American Modernisms Literature class, I impulsively decided that my jealousy over all these years had to mean something. By 9:50, I had made my decision: I ran back to my room after class and emailed him. I told him I thought it was about time we give “us” a real shot.
A month later, he and the new girl broke up. I was home for Christmas, and he knocked on my parent’s door in the middle of the night. We held hands for the first time. He poured out his feelings; I realized, once again, that I didn’t have any for him. A month later, I told him whatever was supposed to be there wasn’t there and that I had made a huge mistake, and that we were never going to happen.
He stopped writing poems, and we stopped talking. We both started seriously dating other people and both felt relief: finally, we knew, once and for all, that “we” didn’t work, and we no longer had to go through life burdened by this sense that we were supposed to end up together. We tried, and it didn’t work, and it was time to move on. We were an idea that seemed perfect on paper, I would tell anyone who would listen, but the feelings were never there at the right time. He was a lengthy anecdote in my story, a laughable tragedy, a misstep that somehow lasted a decade.
We were 23.
I was living in Ohio. He was living in Illinois. We were cautious friends again, talking each other through difficult breakups that had happened, though unrelated, within a week of each other.
The first ten years of our story are complicated. By adolescent angst, and bad timing, and feelings that never latched on in the right places or at the right times or for the right reasons.
So finally, we released each other.
The end of the story is simple.
I was 23,
And I fell asleep one night, free from the need to force love, force chemistry, force God, and then—because this is how these things work—I woke up one morning bursting with the fullest joy I’d ever felt, and I knew—more truly than I had ever known anything before—that I
was in love with him.
We have been dating for almost two years now.
We’re getting married July 28th.