June gets a gift from Things Remembered

When I was in high school, I fell desperately in love for the first time.

The person I loved was not remotely named Giovanni Leftwich, but years ago I put him in a random name generator to blog about him, and have called him that here ever since because it’s an excellent, excellent name.

GL and I dated in 10th grade for a few tumultuous weeks, broke up, and got back together in 11th grade for a few tumultuous months.

Senior year we didn’t speak even though we had all the same friends and saw each other nearly every day.

College, we didn’t speak.

Then as soon as he graduated college, we spoke. The day we started speaking again, we got back together for a few tumultuous years.

Here we are in 1988, in the post-college tumultuous portion of our relationship. That relationship was so jarring I had to get bangs.

Oh my god, I loved him. I finally had to walk away, which was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done other than algebra. There were just too many fights and everything was too unstable and I was miserable all the time because he made me so happy and so unhappy all at once. I kept wanting to stay for the happy parts because they were so, so happy.

And, oh man, does it ever take two to tango. It was both of our fault, that relationship. But in the end, his behavior was just slightly worse than mine and I couldn’t stay for it.

After we broke up for good, we didn’t talk for decades.

Well. I did call him in 1998 to tell him I was getting married, and he was already married. We had both managed to find other people we could actually get along with.

As you know, my marriage lasted for 14 years and it was stable and calm but ultimately didn’t work out.

And then a year after my marriage ended, I met someone else.

And oh my God, I loved him. And there were fights and there was a passion and I was miserable and happy all at the same time. I kept staying for the good parts. We officially dated for 3 1/2 years, and officially took 3 1/2 years to break up. It was literally the seventh anniversary of our first date when I told him I couldn’t do this anymore.

And it took two to tango, but in the end, his behavior was slightly worse and I had to leave.

Having the strength to walk away is based in part on the knowledge that I’ve done it once before with Giovanni. I think about how my 23-year-old self, with no inner strength whatsoever, managed to walk away. I have a lot more fortitude now and I know I can do it because I did it then.

In this last relationship that just ended, all I really ever wanted for him to do was just show actual remorse for his actions. I wanted him to bring it up unsolicited, not talk about my part or finish any sentence with, “but you…” or anything like that. I just wanted him to acknowledge what he did in a simple declarative sentence and say he was sorry and finish it with that. But that never happened.

This past week, on my drive to visit my hometown, I voice-texted Giovanni Leftwich to tell him I was driving past his exit. (He now lives about an hour and a half away from where we grew up.)

“I’ll be there on Friday,” he said. “Maybe we can get together.”

And we did! It took some finagling to finally see each other, but I was going to a party and asked the hostess if it would be OK if he stopped by.

There was a bonfire in the backyard, and even though most people were gathering in the garage—which, is that a Michigan thing? People seem to have parties in the garage here but the other places I’ve lived, no one actually has a garage, or a basement, so I don’t see parties there. But I digress.

Giovanni and I have seen each other a few times in the last 10 years. I’ve met his beautiful wife, and his equally beautiful children. It’s just been nice to catch up and be friends again, which we were all through junior high until we screwed things up by starting to date in 10th grade.

My point is, we were sitting back there alone at the bonfire at the party, because everyone else was rocking out with their garage out in the front.

Unsolicited, he brought up the events of our past. And with a simple declarative sentence, he stated exactly what he did wrong and offered a sincere apology. He admitted that words might not be able to make up for what he did, but he apologized anyway.

I was stunned.

I was glad.

I felt a great weight being lifted from me.

It’s like I got what I wanted, just not from the person I was expecting it from.

I love it when you ask for something, and you finally get it, but it is not at all in the form you thought it would come. It’s like a funny little gift that life gives you. It’s like something else knows better than you what you need.

And that is the best souvenir I brought from home.

72 thoughts on “June gets a gift from Things Remembered

  1. I had a similar experience with someone coming back to apologize simply and directly. It really does lift a weight off of you. I’m happy for you because it’s generally healing going forward. I mean to say it covers other little wounds from other people in some way that makes the razor’s edge just a little less sharp.

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  2. I love that you both are friends again! Really glad that he offered you an apology and that you got what you needed. You guys were adorable. I love your bangs! My HS boyfriend showed up out of the blue a few years ago, friended me on FB, and offered me an apology. We were friends for a year and then everything blew up again. I’m glad I got my apology and that we are not speaking anymore. Too conflicted about the feelings he brought up with me being happily married.

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  3. I love this. I’m sure it took courage to for Giovanni to apologize for an old transgression when it would have been easier to just leave it in the past.
    It’s too dang hot for garage parties here in Texas. Notable exceptions are fall football watching parties. Better to keep those shenanigans outside. Beyond that, I don’t understand why people host parties where they keep their weirdest stuff. “Welcome! Just move that lawn mower/tool chest/gas can/recycling bin and make yourself at home!” 🤣

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    • When people come over here, everyone just kind of drifts out to the unattached garage and sits amongst the dirt bikes. I don’t know why, they just do.

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  4. Some people grow, mature and become better people. Some just don’t. We can’t count on one or the other. So glad this was such a positive, pleasant surprise.

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  5. I imagine the apology felt like aloe on a sunburn, medicated neosporin on a one of those little cuts you get on your fingertip from cold weather, such a surprising yet welcoming relief.

    True love is a mix of highs and lows, ups and downs, a real carnival ride, and I hate carnival rides. This post reminded me of my very first love, and oh how I loved him too. All the stomach twisting and angst that came with it.

    Years ago, an older woman that I worked for, told me the secret to a lasting relationship, is to find someone who loves you more than you love them. At the time, I found that remark kinda self centered and cruel, but now, I wonder.

    So glad you got your best trip souvenir. I am still waiting for mine some 40+ years later.

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  6. What a great gift! I got one similar from a previous love when my father died – a note that admitted some wrongs and a sincere apology and wish that it could have been better. And the garage party must be a Northern thing. I’ve never done that in my long life here in the South. Probably because it is either too crowded in the garage or too hot.

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  7. I can’t say it any better than what’s already been said. “It’s like something else knows better than you what you need.” So happy that you got what you needed on this trip home.

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  8. It is so amazing how some things happen when least expected and they bring so much joy! Your writing about it was so beautiful!

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  9. Beautiful post and what a great guy, a friendship well worthing keeping.
    I knew a couple (frmr, divorced) who hung out in thier garage where they (and her mother who lived with them , part of the reason for said divorce) all smoked like chimneys. That was the reason to be out there, not to stink up the house so much. It was not the most pleasant experience visiting them.

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  10. I’m glad you got the gift you needed from THIS particular person. Maybe you can stretch to cover the ‘other one’ and be done with it and go on with your wonderful life. Have to say, though, that you and GL look far better in the current photo than way back in the day. You both seem to have ‘grown into’ your better selves. And, isn’t that what life is all about in the end? So good to see you and Edz.

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  11. Another amazing post. I think your writing can’t get any better, well it just did. GL is certainly an amazing man to apologize and gave you an unexpected gift. A trip home you shall never forget.
    Tee

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  12. This makes me happy my high school short-boy hair, slouchy-too-tall posture, ugly-oversized glasses, sporting-shorter-sisters’-handmedowns self did not attract any boys (shock) because I do not think I had it together enough to date at that age. Glad you are so insightful about all of it. Love the photos. You HAVE NOT aged!

    I live in Chicago burbs and was at a grad party last night . . . in the garage. Coach and I do not host parties with garage as an option because our garage is too full of bikes and balls and mowers for Tank’s landscaping, etc. It always needs to be cleaned out- like minutes after we clean it out. Sigh.

    Glad you had such a great visit!

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  13. I am so happy for you. Blessings on his head (said in my best Fiddler on the Roof voice). I hope the karma translates to happiness in his own little family. I would also feel vindication and confidence in my own judgement regarding the second relationship. I hope you feel that and can take that to shore yourself up for the future.

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  14. This brought a tear to my eye. Happy for you, and sad that I don’t think I’ll ever hear mine.

    People do drink in their garages here but it’s considered a bit low class.

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  15. Thank you for sharing this story and profound insight. Thanks also for taking us along on your trip to Michigan. It’s been a fun journey for your readers.

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  16. I guess there was a reason for you to go and not cancel this trip. Kismet or whatever you want to call it.
    Happy for you. And it came to him all on his own.

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  17. I love this post so much. I’m glad your trip was a good one! My parents are from Indiana (dad still lives there) and the garage hangout is alive and well there.

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  18. You are such a great writer! What a lovely outcome. I wish I could spend a moment like that with a few people, except it would be me doing the apologizing.

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  19. Sounds like this trip was way better than the one that was originally planned would have been. What a great gift he gave to you.

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  20. I love this so much, the story and the outcome and the insight and your lovely writing! You have made my Sunday morning!

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  21. Oh my gosh, I cried. I got that once, from an ex, same kind of relationship. I actually made him quit talking after he said it because I didn’t want him to ruin it. It really is a gift. This is a very sweet post.

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  22. I am glad for you, June. And glad thar GL was able to apologize. I have the tumult and non-apology person right now. This is my second one of these. Very interesting experience. Still better than being with the liar and cheater from my 13 years with you-know-who. Men are weird.

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  23. I got misty while reading your post today. I am happy for you that your trip has been a happy one, one that included healing of a sort. I have also very much enjoyed the photos! Thank you for including us all, allowing us to glimpse the fun you’ve had. Such a lovely post, June.

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  24. I know I’ve told you before that I find these types of posts very insightful. I’m impressed with how aware you are of this type of thing. But I don’t think I’ve ever told you that I’ve learned so much from these posts.
    When you write something like this it makes me want to do a better job of being aware and appreciative of these type of gifts.

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