Rafal made sure to make my birthday special. It was only a few days after Marma's death, and I was still in a very sad place, but he treated me so sweetly. I don't remember what we did or all the gifts he gave me -- but one that sticks out in my mind was this album of the Billboard top hits of 1986, I believe. I was a little confused as to why he chose that, but then he told me it was because of the song "Lady in Red." He was really into techno and hard rock, but for some reason he loved that song, and it reminded him of me. I'm not sure I ever really wore a lot of red, but that's not important. He played the CD in his car stereo and we stood in my driveway and danced to it on my birthday. I felt like royalty.
The summer after we started dating, Rafal went to Poland for a month to spend some time with his dad. That month was torture for me -- I missed him so much, and he was only able to get online once every few days. I lurked by my computer all the time, not wanting to miss a chance to IM with him. But mostly I moped. I went to basketball camp at Virginia Tech while he was away, and made some good friends, but still spent all my time talking about him and whining about how much I missed him.
He got in late one evening in July, I think, and came straight to my house. I had been up waiting for him, not sure when he'd get in. This was before the days of cell phones and tracking flights online and whatnot. I was so excited to see him, and we were both so tired when he arrived. Me from staying up into the wee hours waiting for him, and him from the travels and jetlag. He couldn't keep his languages straight -- he would accidentally speak Polish when he got very sleepy. I thought it was funny, and would go on to prank him many times later in our relationship by pretending not to understand him and claiming he was speaking Polish when he was actually speaking English. He always fell for it. But I always let him in on the joke after I'd had a good giggle.
I think he spent the night at my place that night. I'm not sure if that was the first time, or if he did in fact stay over, but as time went by, staying over would become normal. We slept in the den, where there was no lock on the door, so I guess my parents assumed that we wouldn't do anything more than cuddle and they never objected to him being there. I don't think I ever asked permission...it's just a thing that started happening. And for a while, it was innocent.
My timeline is a little fuzzy on just when certain things happened in our relationship, but I do know that very early on, I told him that I would be willing to have sex with him, but I didn't feel ready. I thought I needed to say this, because he was older, and I assumed experienced. It turned out that he was also a virgin, but I didn't know that when I planted this seed. He was respectful of my youth and unreadiness for a bit...but he got anxious for the sex, and would constantly remind me of what I'd said so early on. He did eventually pressure me quite a bit, and it was something that we fought about a lot in the first year of our relationship...but I'll get to that later.( Awkward description of teenage sex stuff )
His behavior with regard to sex is probably what led me to fall out of love with him. Over time, I got disgusted with how used I felt sometimes. He would come home from college to visit me, and the first thing he'd want was sex. We still fought a lot, about I don't even know what -- we both had bad tempers and I guess it probably didn't take much to get riled up on either side. I started wanting us to fight so he'd break up with me. I was afraid to break up with him because I was afraid he'd hurt himself. I can't remember if he ever suggested he would or not, but I was very worried it would happen anyway, so I wanted to make him end it. And eventually he did, but it took a long time.
Still though, after the breakup, I wanted him back. We reconciled for a bit, and things were good for a bit, and then they weren't again. I messed around with other guys, he found out, and that was the end for us. But I wanted him back again, and tried desperately throughout the summer of 2000, but he'd already found Whitney then. He wouldn't take me back, and eventually I got over it.
It was years before I heard from him again. After I married Jeremy, word got back to him that I was married, and he reached out to me. We did a lot of apologizing back and forth, and formed a really good friendship. I began to feel very attached to him again. We spoke every day for a while and grew very close. I guess Whitney sensed what was happening, because she asked him to stop talking to me. I was hurt when that happened, but I understood. Later, when I moved back to Charlottesville, I would run into them both at the gym quite frequently. I talked to Rafal when I saw him, but it was all just superficial then. I never really connected with him again. And now I never will.
I still have more memories to share from the relationship; I'll leave those here as they come to mind and as I have time. There's still a lot more to unpack.