Love Left Behind

By: S. H. Kolee

Chapter One

How far can obligation take you? It almost took me to the altar. Marrying the boy you started dating at fifteen is either a fairy tale or insanity. Sean Somers and I started dating our freshman year of high school. We grew up together through a parent's death, a divorce, proms and pregnancy scares. I loved Sean, although a part of me realized there was no passion in our relationship. He was like a trusted confidante, a best friend. But the love of my life? I wasn't so sure.

I assumed that college would be the wedge that would make us drift apart. I had accepted a partial scholarship to the University of Chicago and Sean was staying behind in Maryland to attend the local university. It wasn't for lack of trying that Sean didn't attend the same college as me. However, the University of Chicago had rejected him, and a small secret part of me had been happy. I could start over in Chicago and become a new person. I was tired of being boring Emma Mills; dependable daughter, straight-A student, church volunteer.

However, I had underestimated Sean's persistence and determination. Although we had promised each other that we would call and visit faithfully, Chicago was an expensive plane ride away. I didn't think it would actually happen. I hadn't realized that Sean had been squirreling away his paychecks from his summer jobs, saving enough money to be able to visit me every month.

And college hadn't been what I had expected it to be. I thought I would become a fascinating new person, with exciting friends and adventures around every corner. Instead, I realized I was still the same Emma Mills. I was still dependable. I was still earning straight-A's. I was still volunteering at church.

It became easier to go with what was comfortable. Sean was comfortable. He was dependable, just like me. So when he suggested that I move back to Maryland after graduation and take a job in D.C. so that we could start a life together, I agreed.

For three years, I was tolerably happy. Everyone envied our relationship. We both liked our jobs and enjoyed living right outside of D.C. in an up-and-coming neighborhood in Maryland. We rarely fought and I believed that I would spend the rest of my life with Sean. Therefore, when he proposed to me on my twenty-fourth birthday by stuffing a ring inside my birthday cake, I accepted with glee. My life was proceeding right on track.

But as the wedding day came closer and closer, I started to feel as if I was suffocating. We had our life totally mapped out before us. Sean was an analyst at a prestigious financial firm and was on track for a promotion to manager. I was a marketing executive at an ad agency, and we figured I would work there a few more years until we started having children. Then I would be a stay-at-home mom.

I tried to buy into the vision, but I began to realize that it wasn't the mapped out life that was really bothering me. It was the person I planned on spending that life with.

Sean didn't like to travel. He liked to stay home and watch television. Our sex life had been reduced to a chaste daily kiss with an obligatory roll in the hay once every couple of weeks. He bored me to tears, and I was sure I did the same to him. Yet every time I would question how happy he was in our relationship, he claimed that he was perfectly content.

The further we got into the wedding planning, the more my doubts grew, but it became harder and harder to think about calling it off. I had already sent the invitations out, for Pete’s sake. How tacky would it be to have to rescind a wedding invitation? So I went along and picked out our wedding cake, listened to different bands, and had long drawn-out conversations about which caterer to use.

Until my bachelorette party. My girlfriends and I had done the predictable thing and gone to Vegas. We squealed in mortification and delight over the Chippendale dancers, we lost money on the slots and we drank ourselves to oblivion.

On our last night, my best friend Trisha and I were at a club sitting at a table by ourselves while our friends gyrated on the dance floor. She leaned over to me and asked, "Can you believe you're getting married in less than a month?"

My answer was no. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it. I couldn't spend my whole life being boring, predictable Emma Mills. It was selfish of me. It was horrible of me. But I knew I was saving Sean and myself from a mind-numbingly boring life together.

So I called it off.

The day I got back from Vegas, I sat Sean down in the living room of our apartment. The one we had spent months decorating together by going to estate sales and flea markets, trying to restore pieces of furniture ourselves to save money. It reminded me that for all the dull moments in our life together, there had been sweet moments as well. We were comfortable together. But comfortable wasn't enough for me anymore.