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Love is complex. What you thought was love at 15 years old is completely different from love in your 20’s. Love grows, it flourishes, and it changes like the seasons. 

But, when you find that one love, the one they talk about in movies and books… you just know. This person is your ideal prince charming or princess, and they embody all of the things you can’t find in yourself. This person is different from anyone else you’ve ever known. There is an undeniable connection that goes so much deeper beyond lust or infatuation. This person is your soulmate, and if you are lucky enough to find them, you do everything in your power to keep them. But you don’t just keep them around because they are comfortable. You make an effort to keep them by your side because without them, you are not complete. Without this person, your life would lack happiness and fulfillment. 

I found this person at 21 years old. Well, actually, let me rephrase that and start from the beginning. 

 

Fall 2011 

At 12 years old, you are naive, confused, and trying to live through some of the worst years of your life (at least they were for me.) But some people come into your life and it’s like they have been there all along. That’s how it felt with Casey. In my head at that time, he was honestly just another guy. He was a friend I could count on when I needed him. But, there was something different about him in the back of my mind. He always had the ability to make me smile, and I made it a point to always say hi to him in the hallways. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I had a wobbly head on my shoulders and my eyes were elsewhere. But life can have other plans sometimes. 

 

Summer 2013

In the summer of 2013, I was preparing to leave my awful middle school and start a new chapter in high school. I had recently broken up with a long-term boyfriend, and was ready to start over. Like magic, Casey was suddenly a shoulder to lean on. We talked the majority of the summer, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t developing feelings for him. I could tell he was really into me, and I knew he was going to my high school too, so it made sense for us to be a couple. But, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted. Honestly, other guys were talking to me too, and I felt empowered by the attention I was getting. I didn’t give Casey the chance he deserved. I chose to go with someone else, someone who I consider my first real love. But like I said, your idea of love can seriously change. 

 

Spring 2014 

Sometimes, in the darkest parts of my relationship with this other boy, I would think about the “what if’s” of if I never got with him in the first place. I thought about Casey in those times. Every day, I would stand with my current boyfriend before classes started and see Casey walking from the bus. I would still make it a point to say hi to him. Because he was my friend, yes, but somewhere under the surface I wanted him to save me. It was ridiculous of me to think that way because I never even gave him a chance at love with me, but I was selfish. I would wave, he would say “hey” and walk away. Every single day. 


A torn pink paper heart strung on white string with a black background.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

Spring 2017

I hadn’t seen Casey in awhile, and he slowly crept out of my mind. I was thinking of graduation, where I would be living after high school, and starting life in the real world. I would see his occasional post on Instagram or Facebook and I would like it, but it never went beyond that. I always thought when I saw those posts “I hope he is doing well” then continue on with my day. For the next few years, I would be going through lots of changes that allowed for a lot of clarity in my mind.

 

My 21st Birthday- May 21, 2020 

As the world was crumbling around me, from the coronavirus to a massive 5-year-relationship break up, I was in a very dark place. I had turned to Tinder and Bumble against my better judgement to find what I hoped was love. My 21st birthday was not the way I planned it to go, but the universe had a plan for me, even though I couldn’t see it then. Casey, randomly, sent me a simple “Happy late birthday!” at 3 a.m. on Instagram. The next morning, I woke up to the message and replied. But, the conversation didn’t stop there. Casey asked me how I had been, and said he wanted to catch up with me. It felt so good that he still thought about me, and even wanted to give ME another chance after the way I did him wrong so many years ago. But, he did. And what was a simple text message turned into a Facetime, which turned into a first date, which turned into a loving relationship. 


Girl blowing out candles
Sergei Solo

May 31, 2020

I had never been crazy about the city I lived in. It was what you’d expect of any southern city. But, on May 31st 2020, it glowed like never before. It glowed, because of Casey. We walked around Acworth for what felt like hours, just enjoying the summer breeze. We talked, and talked, and talked. The conversation never stopped, and there were no awkward moments. It was like we were 12 again, and it felt so right. I swear time stopped that night. We were falling in love with each other… in one night. It felt like I had been dating him for years because it was just so natural. All the darkness that had filled my mind for so long faded away that night, and was replaced with a joy I’d never known before. Was he the person I had been waiting for? Through all these terrible relationships, was he the one waiting on the other side? When I was 12, was he the one? There were so many thoughts running through my mind. But for the first time in my life, something was telling me to stop questioning it. Just let it be. It was like a sign that this relationship was in the stars. So that night, I let go. I didn’t deny my feelings, I just felt. I felt in love, so that’s what I said. (I know, crazy right?) I said, “Casey, I love you” and you know what’s crazier? He said it right back.


pink neon love sign
Photo by Shaira Dela Peña from Unsplash

Today, February 3, 2021, as I’m writing this  

My idea of love has never been more positive. There is a certain feeling you get when that special person rolls over and looks at you first thing in the morning, or when they sing to you with their best Elvis impersonation in the car. It’s a feeling you won’t get anywhere else in this lifetime. I was lucky enough to find it with Casey. Life is funny that way. It takes people out of your life, and then gives them back to you when you’d least expect it. I can honestly tell you I’ve never been more in love than I am with Casey. Scratch that– I’ve never BEEN in love before Casey. What I thought was love before, was not love. It was toxic, draining, and everything but love. With Casey, I am safe, cared for, and treated like that princess from the movies and books I talked about earlier. I’ve never felt that way before. Even on my hardest days, Casey looks at me with admiration and trust that we can make it through anything. He is my soulmate. He is the one, and if you ever find your one, please don’t let them go. It may be the person you never expected. 

 

Love always,

Autumn

 

Autumn Boekeloo is an aspiring entertainment journalist living in Atlanta, GA. She is a senior at Georgia State University majoring in Multimedia Journalism and minoring in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies. The 21 year old will be graduating in December 2021 with a B.A. and several academic awards. Autumn has written for print and online newspapers at Georgia State. She enjoys writing articles about lifestyle, festivals and all things Atlanta. She hopes to work for a magazine one day while pursuing her own blog.
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