At this time 3 years ago I was living with my boyfriend Ryan. Someone I was deeply in love with. The first time I ever knew what love could feel like. We were starting our summer out in a sunny small mountain town on the front range of Colorado called Golden.
We were college-sweethearts. The house was a 1 story red brick home, shaded by giant hovering oak trees. It was quiet, peaceful, and all around lovely. I was 25 years old, but inside I was still very young, like a second round of teenage dream years. Ryan was too, he was idealistic with phantasms of the world moving softly behind his blue eyes. His eyes were so blue, almost surreal.
He was a tall young man towering a little over 6 feet. He didn’t have defining muscles, yet somehow his natural physique reflected a masculine silhouette. He had dark brown hair that swept across his forehead, only emphasizing his bright blue eyes.
I moved into his house a month earlier, something we had decided we wanted over Valentine’s Day weekend. We took a trip to Glenwood Springs for the holiday. A snowy town deep into the mountains. I didn’t know it, but Ryan had arranged ahead of time to have our room covered in rose petals. A little corny, you are thinking? Not to people who are stupid in love with each other, for some reason you just can’t help but to view the corny as momentous.
When we checked in downstairs, the front desk clerk gave me a funny smile after I gave him our reservation name. I looked up at Ryan with a concerned look, to see if he noticed it, at the moment I figured the clerk was being rude and found me amusing in some way. Ryan gave me a sly smile, pulled me into his side, and kissed my head. As a silent protest to tell me it was all in my imagination.
He had a way of doing that, making me feel like I was slightly crazy when he didn’t see the importance in something. I was surprised he did not say “Yes, Dear” as he kissed my head. That was his favorite way of humorously letting me know I was being dramatic and dismissing the subject at hand. He knew I hated when he did that, but also loved it at the same time.
“Your room is ready, 310 here are your keys you can take the elevator to the third floor” The clerk gestured with his hands over to the elevator doors.
“Great, thanks” Ryan said to the clerk as they gave each other a secret smile while he reached for the card keys.
What the hell was that, did they know something I didn’t? I glanced back and forth between the two of them. Was there something on my face? Do I have a wedgie or is my bra showing or something? Trying to be subtle, I started checking my appearance to make sure nothing was off as we took the elevator and walked to our room.
“Are you ready?” Ryan asked as he sat our bags down outside the door and held up the room key.
“Uhhh, yeah” I laughed. A little confused as to why he was acting so bubble-headed.
He swung the door open, and I saw a gorgeous hotel room filled with roses in vases and peddles all over. It covered everything I could see in the room.
I held my hand up to my mouth, astounded at the site. Entering slowly into the room I looked around at the crimson of roses creating a notable contrast to the white snow falling behind it through a giant patio window leading out to the forest. I picked a handful of the soft red petals off the bed and smiled as I released them one by one back onto the comforter.
Ryan walked behind me and rested his chin on the top of my head while placing his hands gently over my shoulders. “What do you think?” He quietly asked me.
I had no words that could narrate what I felt in that moment. We didn’t have a lot of money, and all these roses must have cost a fortune. It was clearly important to Ryan to make this weekend special for me. The gratitude I felt for him considering my happiness at the occasion was, indescribable.
I turned around and faced him. “You are amazing” was all I could manage to get out. He smiled and gave me a kiss. A gentle, loving one. With his lips placed sweetly on top of mine, he moved his hand slowly down my back and with an appreciative movement pulled me closer to him.
I unlocked our lips and pushed him back a little, “Wait, is that why the guy at the front desk was acting weird with you?”
“Yes, he knew what was up here I am sure, I called earlier this week to arrange it, and made sure this morning before we left that everything was done” He replied in a brash fashion. Very proud of himself, I am sure.
“You are so sneaky, but I love you” I smiled.
“I love you too Shannon” he smiled back before giving me another kiss.
It took us a long time to leave the room. When we finally decided we needed sustenance to regain our energy we braved the cold winter night and ventured through the town.
We warmed up by a fireplace in a local pub we came across. I looked down at our matching amber ales as they illuminated fiercely by the fire on the table in front of us. I was so fulfilled in that moment and my soul was quite literally warm between Ryan snuggled next to me on the left and the fire raving on the right.
He was my best friend, the one person who saw me better than anyone. We were kindred spirits at that time in our life. Just two kids trying to figure out our next move. As I absorbed that moment with full sanctity, Ryan placed his hand on mine and started lightly tracing the shadows of my palms.
“So, I’ve been thinking” He stated.
“Have you now? Must be a good change of pace for your brain” I teased him.
“Yes Dear” He said as he rolled his eyes at me. We both laughed a little. “Seriously though”
“OK, what have you been thinking about?” I asked.
“All my room mates are moving out after graduation, and I will have that big house all to myself. I know you aren’t completely amused living with your mom, and I was wondering…” he paused “well I was wondering if maybe you would want to move in with me”
“Wow, really, that would honestly be OK with you?” I asked him kind of shocked. I didn’t think he would be ready to take the next step with us for a while.
“I am OK with it” he gave me a huge smile and squeezed my hand “I think it would be a really good idea”
I reached down and took a sip of my beer to think for a second, and he watched my every movement for a moment right down to the breath exhaling from my chest. He would do that sometimes. Become completely immersed with his gaze on me. Whenever he did that I could feel my heart try to fly out of my chest a little, but I was getting used to it. “OK I’m in, let’s try it out”
“OK!” He said excitedly, and reached in to kiss me. “I think this is going to be really good”
He continued to have a giddy smile on his face and I watched his eyes trace over the fire and get lost in thought. “What are you thinking about?” I asked with curiosity.
“I was just thinking about what it’s going to be like living with you, it gives me butterflies”
Ryan may have been a cocky college guy to his friends, always boasting about how cool of a guy he was, but with me he was a pile of mush. He never felt afraid to just truly tell me how he felt, even if it came out really lovey-dovey. He was always saying things like that to me.
I bet you’re wondering how a scene like that could end up as a desolate wasteland. This isn’t your typical breakup story. I will tell you all the ugly real life non-hollywood truths that led to the implosion in the coming parts. It is a quantum system of events, one not being able to exist without the other.
Ryan loved me, I knew that, but it was difficult for him to get to a place where he admitted it. Before we became a couple, we were friends and he swore to me and anyone else that wanted to listen that he would never have a girlfriend in college. He claimed it was a “fool’s errand”. He was calloused with his treatment of women. I watched him charm them and throw them aside when he was done.
I didn’t know it then but Ryan’s ambition towards being casual with women stemmed from his Father’s influence. The first time I ever had dinner with his parents, his father bragged to the whole table that he had slept with over 100 women in college. With his beautiful loving wife sitting right beside him.
Ryan was his only son, and the first born of his two sisters. I think it meant a lot to Ryan Senior to have his son follow in his disgusting footsteps. So, he built Ryan up every chance he could, and although he liked me, he was disappointed in Ryan for the loving relationship we had.
How messed up is that, right?
Although idealistic, Ryan was a complicated person with many years of puzzling influence from his Father. He tried very hard to not be his father, yet he loved his dad and admired him. But he sympathized with his mother all at the same time. And for Ryan, it was an on-going intricate crusade of defining his independence.