The End of the Miss Stillman College Chapter

by Just Juan

“Wherever there is an investment, there is always frustration because investment creates expectations” – Kelly Scott

As I sit here, on the carpet in front of this computer at 10:16pm on the 2nd day of the new year, the words from the guy who paved the way for me out of Birmingham and to The Ohio State University ring true. Whenever you invest into something, expectation is born. And when expectations aren’t met, frustration is inevitable. Just a few hours ago, I found myself sitting in a Panera Bread in Lawrenceville, Georgia hoping to get the truth about why my most recent relationship died. And as I hobbled out of there on my crutches, the frustration of unrealized expectations showed up…and it was not made better by the 2-hour drive home filled with hurt and disappointment…a feeling that I know all too well…a feeling that has always made me feel as if I’m not worth anything to any woman.

Tonight, the chapter of my life with my ex—let’s call her Miss Stillman College, because she was that at some point—officially ended and I’m no closer tonight to understanding just exactly why than I was when things suddenly started falling apart at the end of last September. It’s all very disappointing to me…mostly because the meeting at Panera Bread was on her terms. I gave her all of the advantages: (1) the date and time slot of her choice, (2) a location that’s 5 minutes away from her home and 2 hours away from mine, and (3) her option to select a neutral mediator, which ended up being her sister. You’d think that with all of the advantages and knowing that she didn’t want to make any attempts at saving the relationship that she would’ve just been straight up as to why. I asked the tough question tonight. I confronted her about the dream that she had in September about me proposing to her and all the ridiculousness of the scenario she described…getting a ring from a Motel 6 auction, proposing in front of her friends, giving her a ring with a loose diamond that got lost the first time she showed it off. I told her, as I told her in September, that the way she dreamed it that night in September is nowhere close to how I’ve dreamed of it since a particularly rainy night in Tokyo nearly 5 ½ years ago. I confronted her about how I felt she sabotaged the budding relationship by letting an outside person who never met me or knows me from a doorknob speak words into our situation…words she took as gold. And every answer she gave me to my questions made the whole matter all the more confusing and made me feel all the more burned. What really drove the proverbial stake for me was when she said “Juan, it was only 60 days”. Those are words she never said months earlier…it was always “I can’t ignore the dream”.

Personally, I don’t think it was ever about the dream. Hell, we both laughed it off as her being really tired that night as our phone conversation had gone deep into the late evening hours. Furthermore, that night happened to be the same night I told her 2 things during that very long conversation. The 1st was that I had a phobia of budget hotels and motels like Motel 6, Super 8, and America’s Best Value Inn because I didn’t feel as if they were neither clean or safe. I told her that even seeing those places on Travelocity searches makes me uncomfortable. The 2nd thing I told her was that whomever I propose to will be surprised at the moment and the ring as I already know where I’m going to do it and I have long been saving for an engagement ring as a personal challenge to myself to diligently pursue marriage. I always thought it was ironic that she emailed me the next morning with such an unusual engagement scenario hours after that conversation. I do think, however, that our downfall had to do with either or all of the following factors: (1) the difference in age (she’s 32 and I’m 29); (2) the difference in faith (she’s a Seventh Day Adventist and I’m a Nondenominational Christian); (3) the distance (2 hours and 130 miles separate her home in Lawrenceville, GA from mine in Opelika, AL). I think it’s more about the 2nd factor than anything else because she asked me, on divers occasions, what I would do if we became more serious or even married…and I continually downplayed it with “we’re still both Christians” or “I’ll deal with that decision when it’s time to cross that bridge”. Honestly, if she would’ve said it was that or either of the other 2 factors, I would be OK with it…and likely not writing this post. And while the things left unsaid and unanswered about why our relationship was busted up left me feeling frustrated, hurt, and disappointed, I’m confident that life will be life…it will “present the next diversion, the next elaborate distraction from the issues that vex” us, as I recently heard a great figure say. I’m not so sure how I feel about her scurrying off back into the Panera Bread after she took it upon herself to walk with me, in my hobbled state, to the parking lot. Before I could even close the back passenger door of the Jeep, she simply said “bye” and mad dashed across the parking lot to the Panera Bread door. That’s the lasting image I’ll likely have of her and perhaps our entire chapter: me hopping on one foot, in 20*F cold, to open my front driver-side door while seeing her scurrying off out of my life.

As I close this entry, I’m reminded of the words my spiritual mother told the 24-year-old version of myself in Tokyo. She said “You’re like a crown jewel. You’re not going to end up with just any woman. God will make sure of that. But in between now and the time the right woman comes, you’re going to be hurt a few times”. Once again, her words are cut deep…and again, I have to regroup and restart. The Lost Decade of Dating unfortunately continues.

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