Rolling the Dice When Young and In Love

I'm told an absurd number of Modern Love columns turn into book deals. Given the competitive submission rate, whatever the editors choose to publish tends to be pretty good. This past Sunday's column was one of my favorite.

It's about a popular romantic predicament for people early in life: They fall in love with someone in high school or college. They'd marry the person if they were 35, but they're too young to marry, and still have things they want to do before settling down. Do they commit to the girlfriend or boyfriend in their early 20's even if it means sacrificing other goals? Or do they roll the dice and break up, go do other things, and hope that later in life they can re-connect? (Or, have faith they'll find someone even better.) I've seen men and women play it both ways, with success and with failure.

Mike Ives, in the column, discusses how he chose to part ways with his high school sweat-heart a couple years after college. He figured they'd get married eventually. He traveled the world and lived life. He enjoyed his youth. Three years passed without seeing his girlfriend. He realized he missed her greatly. He wanted to re-kindle the love of old. Alas, by the time he saw her next, she had gotten involved with a new man and was firmly on the road to marriage. It's not clear he made the wrong decision; after all, good decisions can have bad outcomes. The story is poignant either way.

For the first half of my 20s, the Rest of My Life had appeared to wait patiently. And time, like a gift certificate, seemed like something I could hold on to and cash in later. But that night I felt as if the rest of my life was already upon me. Time was short, and I couldn’t think of anything to look forward to.

I grasped for something winning to say. Nothing came. I was drunk. She walked into the station and didn’t look back.

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