The night before we grow up

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Here's the thing.
In a love story there's always:

1. The introduction of both characters.
2. The falling for each other (this is my personal favorite part).
3. The conflict. Usually a mistake or a misunderstanding. It tears the couple apart.
4. The reunion. Very sappy. Usually set to a Lionel Richie song.
5. The End. Set to an upbeat song. Instills positive feelings.

That last part there, number 5, that's the one that really got me rethinking my dissection of romance plots. The end, well, it wasn't simple. How did you ever really know it was the end in real life?

The end for me wasn't set to Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" with Judd Nelson and his fist in the air. Instead, the end was set to the graduation march.

We'd thrown our caps in the air and the weight of the future came back down as it fell. At that moment, there's really only one person you want to be with.

For me, his name was Danny. He was the sole reason that high school felt like I'd blinked it away.

Our eyes met across the rows of chairs as the confetti around us drifted through the air. The sounds of proud family members and happy graduates reverberated throughout the football stadium where we'd spent every fall Friday night. As I looked at Danny and he looked at me, I couldn't help but smile. I'd told him before that he was the only person that made our forest green gowns look good. He didn't believe me.

We stood smiling at each other for what seemed longer than our four years here. When a single tear rolled down my cheek, Danny finally stepped forward and took my hand.

All too soon, on one of the nights where the stars seem like they've multiplied and the air is humming with the sounds of summer, Danny and I sat side by side on the top of his roof.

"The night before we grow up," he'd called it.

I was headed for school on the west coast in the morning. He would be 679 miles from me at a university closer to home.

He'd wrapped his flannel around me and I hugged it closer, wishing the sleeves were his arms instead. He was a high school boy though, they never really understood what you needed. But...Danny had come pretty close.

I loved him.

Three months ago, when I was still sitting behind a desk learning chemistry, that was simple. Simpler than chemistry. Loving him was like air. It was like memorizing my locker combination. Like knowing the fastest route to and from class.

Leaving him was the unknown.

The end was a filled car trunk. The end was one last look in my rearview mirror at the last four years that took the form of a waving boy. The end wasn't filled with an upbeat love song. And nobody had their fist in the air.

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