I arrived at In Sheep's Clothing, an intimate music-focused bar in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Bars weren't really my thing, but I liked that it was a place to listen to amazing music and have a good conversation without shouting across the room. I spotted my sister sitting at the table with two nice-looking guys and I tried to hide the irritation and disappointment on my face. Again, my sister was trying to convince me to date. So, I stood by the table with a fake smile.
"Hey, Hayden. I want to introduce you to my friends, Jax and Sang. Jax and I used to go to college together, and Sang is Jax's best friend. And he's single," she said.
Sang blushed, and I felt a little guilty that my sister put him out there like that on my behalf. I shook his hand and then Jax's before sitting down next to my sister.
"It's nice to meet you both." I smiled.
"You too," they both said in unison.
I grabbed the menu to keep myself busy. Jax started a conversation with Camden while Sang and I looked intently at our menus. Sang's phone buzzed and he excused himself from the table. Then Jax got up to get another round of beers. I was thankful I had a moment to chew up my sister for trying to set me up.
"Why do you keep doing this? I'm not interested in dating anyone. And I doubt he's even interested in me. He never looked up from his menu or phone." I scolded her.
"Relax. You need to put yourself out there. You are a 23-year-old virgin that hasn't been in a relationship or on a date in years. I don't get why you are so against dating."
"I... I'm just waiting for the right guy," I mumbled.
"How are you going to find the right guy if you don't try?"
Before I could respond, Jax came back with our beers. Then he told us that Sang had a work-related emergency and sent his deepest apologies. Well, that confirmed he wasn't interested in me which wasn't unusual. It's not like men gave me that much attention anyway.
I sipped on my beer and decided I didn't want to waste my time here being a third wheel. Camden has a boyfriend but how she described their relationship, it seemed to be open. So I stood up, ready to bolt out of here.
"I'm going to head out. I have a few things to do for my graduation ceremony," I lied.
"Oh, congrats!" Jax cheered.
"You really have to go?" Cam pouted.
"Yeah, I'll see you later... And it was nice to meet you, Jax. Thanks. You two have a great night," I said.
I headed to my car. On the drive home, I tried to figure out why I haven't been on a date in years. The last time I was in a relationship was about seven years ago. I guess my last relationship changed my view on dating, love, and relationships. I remember how it ended like it was yesterday. It was a day much like earlier today. The kind when it's not too hot and you get a cool breeze every once and a while. A typical sunny Southern California day with a few clouds in the sky.
It was a perfect day for the beach or hanging out with friends. Instead of doing something pleasant like going to the park or beach, I went to see Trent, my boyfriend, to break up with him. It wasn't because I didn't love him. I just didn't trust him back then. Besides, he was going to college and I was in High School at the time. I didn't want to hold him back from his college experience. I couldn't foresee a long-distance relationship working for us. Since things weren't good between us, I thought it was best to go our separate ways. That day still bothered me as I recalled the details.
I thought about all the reasons to end our relationship as I drove in my new car. Well, not exactly new, but new to me. Camden, gave it to me last week when she got a new car for completing her first year of college. She's obviously spoiled and a bit snobbish and materialistic, but I love her dearly.
I arrived at his house a little after three. He didn't live far just a few blocks away. I could have walked, but I wanted my getaway to be as quick as possible. I walked toward the largest and best-looking house on the block and then knocked. His mother and my mom's best friend, Trina, greeted me with a warm hug.
"Hey, Hayden. The boys are in the backyard," she said with a warm smile.
She looked super cute in her blue dress. Auntie Trina is the most fashionable and coolest adult I've ever met. She's easy to talk to and fun. She gave birth to four of the finest boys in the world.
"Thanks, Auntie Trina." I smiled.
I made my way to the familiar backyard. They just landscaped, making it the hot spot to hang out this summer. Travis and Trent were throwing a football back and forth on the realistic-looking faux grass.
"Hey, bestie," I said to Travis.
He tossed the ball back to Trent then gave me a bear hug. When he was done smothering me, he put his sweaty arm around my shoulder and kissed my cheek.
"You didn't come to hang out with me, huh? It's always Trent. I'm glad he's leaving, so I can get my best friend back," he said playfully.
I smiled wide as looked up at him. He always made things lighted-hearted and fun. He had no idea how much I was going to need him after today.
"Trust me you'll have me back," I said seriously.
Before he could reply, Trent came over and pushed Travis off of me.
"Get off my girl, man," Trent said to his little brother.
"Whatever. She likes me more than you anyway." Travis scoffed.
Trent nudged him again before giving me all of his attention. His eyes crinkled and dimples deepened at the sight of me. He was about to wrap his arms around me, but I took a step back, knowing I was about to hurt his feelings.
"Hey, babe. What's up?" he asked.
"We need to talk... alone," I said, looking at Travis.
"We do?" Trent asked.
I nodded. Then Travis gave us a knowing look and headed back into the house. Trent grabbed a water bottle and gulped it up in what seemed to be one swallow. I was nervously picking at my gold charm bracelet that he gave me on our first anniversary. He stared at me as I was fidgeting with it.
"What's wrong, Hayden?" he asked.
"Umm... well, you are about to leave in three weeks and I think it's best that we end things," I mumbled.
He sat down on the bench with a confused look on his face.
"What?! Why Hayden? What did I do? Did I do something wrong?"
"No. You did nothing. It's just... I'm 16 and still in high school. You just turned 18 and you are going to Stanford. I don't want to hold you back. I want you to enjoy college. Be a bachelor and enjoy the whole experience," I explained.
"What? You are breaking up with me because I'm going to college?"
"Well, yes and no. It's complicated... I was thinking about everything. I'm too young to be in a serious relationship. I need to focus on school more anyway. When you go to college, you'll find better girls than me anyway. Girls that will do what I won't do," I said, looking down at my feet.
This was harder than I thought it would be. I couldn't look at him. I felt terrible. The more I tried to tell him why I wanted out, the more I felt selfish.
"Wow! I can't believe you. Is this really because I want to have sex and you don't?" he asked.
I looked up at him with a scowl plastered on my face. It was more than me not wanting to have sex yet. Sex was the thing that was tearing us apart. He cared about it more than our relationship. I didn't understand was he making this so difficult. I tried to break up with him nicely as I could and he just couldn't accept it.
He didn't even want to be with me anyway. All the rumors I was hearing that he's sleeping around with any girl that would give it to him. I was tired of people laughing at me and calling me stupid behind my back. Even worse, feeling bad for myself. I did not want people to pity me. I wasn't weak or stupid. I knew it was unrealistic to think he would go hundreds of miles away and be faithful to me when he couldn't manage to do it living a few blocks away.
"No. It's just over between us. You haven't been happy for the past 6 months and I know it's because of me. Honestly, I haven't been either... Let's just be friends again. I wish you the best in college. Call me sometimes. Anytime you want," I said more dismissively than I intended.
I couldn't read him. His face was stoic. I knew right then that he wasn't going to fight for me or change. I slowly took off my bracelet, preparing to give it to him.
"I guess you can have this back," I said, handing him the bracelet.
He held the bracelet in his hand looking down at it.
"I don't understand... I thought you cared about me... loved me," he mumbled.
"I do. I love you... I'm doing this because I care about your happiness. Trent, it's for the best. Let's just end on good terms. We will always be friends. Our families are practically family."
He roughly rubbed his smooth dark brown cheek.
"Hayden, tell me the truth. Why are you doing this? I don't want to break up with you," he pleaded.
"Trent, I already told you why. I'm too young. I want you to be happy and enjoy college life. We will still be in each other's lives, just in a different way. I'll still go with you to the airport on your last day. I promise."
His jaw clenched and his honey brown eyes cut into slits.
"Fine! Don't even think about coming to see me leave. I think you should leave now," he said coldly.
Confused at his harshness, I took a step back from him. I really thought he would be relieved that it was over and we could just be friends again. I was hurt by how harsh and difficult he was being with me. To make it worse, not once did he say he loved me.
"Okay. I wasn't trying to hurt you. I just wanted to give you what you needed and want. You were my first and only boyfriend and I'll never forget what we had. I hope you still want to be my friend eventually... I wish you the best."
I knew there was nothing more I could say. He was pissed. Trent wasn't reasonable or kind when he was like this. I don't know why I thought this would turn out differently. I turned around and headed back into the house defeated and hurt.
Don't cry. Don't you dare cry.
I was trying with everything in me not to cry. Each step was a struggle as my nose tingled and my eyes felt heavier and heavier. Then I saw the door, my escape. As I bolted toward the door, I ran straight into Travis's chest. I almost fell from the impact.
"I'm sorry," I whispered.
He steadied me and looked me up and down. I saw the flash of anger on his face.
"What did he do?" Travis asked bitterly.
"Nothing. I need to go, okay? I'll see you later," I lied.
Somehow a tear escaped revealing my true feelings.
"Hayden, you are crying. What did he do?" he asked again.
"Nothing. It was me. I ended it. I'm sorry Travis, but I have to go." I sniffled.
I grabbed the doorknob and practically ran to my car. I drove to the park and just sat in my car and broke down. I was finally free to releases all of my pent-up emotions and frustrations. After a good ugly cry, I didn't know what to do next. I didn't want to go home. I didn't want to talk to anyone about what just happened. It was officially done between Trent and I. Instant regret crept through my mind. I love Trent and I didn't want to let him go. But I needed to do this for my heart. I couldn't take how he was breaking it.
Then again, maybe I should have stayed. Endured his lies and unfaithfulness, but I couldn't take knowing he didn't love me. Besides, he was going to just cheat again anyway. I couldn't take back what I did. It's over and I had a strong feeling he didn't want to see me ever again.
The blasting sound of a car horn pulled me out of my thoughts of that sad day. I realized the light was green and I was still at the light. I accelerated and proceeded to my destination. I finally made it home and went straight to my routine. I put on my comfortable pajamas, poured myself a large glass of wine, and turned on a romantic comedy.
As I sat there sipping my wine, I realized my sister was right. I haven't put any effort into finding love. Though I wanted to find a life partner and have a family, I didn't see it as a real possibility. Maybe I couldn't move forward because Trent still had a piece of my heart.