ALWAYS

ALWAYS

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

Always

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle; love is a war; love is a growing-up.

James Baldwin

“So can I ride my bike to your house tonight? Give me directions.”

I laughed at Adam’s childish request. “Ad, I live in Washington. It’ll take you hours to get there!” I stared into his dark brown eyes, waiting for a response.

As I studied his face, a look of seriousness washed over him, and he answered, “You know, I’d do anything to see you. I love you, Amy Catalano.” He started to sing our favorite Bon Jovi song, “Always.” I blushed and lowered my eyes. This wasn’t the first time Adam had confessed his love for me. He was always saying things like that. But tonight, as we sat across from each other in the crowded restaurant, was the first time I said it back and really meant it.

“I love you, too, Adam Baldwin.” He smiled and grabbed my hand. My mind raced. What did I just say? Did I just tell him I loved him? His smile told me everything I needed to know.

The year that followed was filled with many ups and downs for us. I spent much of the time battling a serious bout of depression, and we began to drift apart due to my lack of interest in the world surrounding me. Despite my mental state, I thought of him often and still loved him more than anyone. But I knew that before I could be with him, I had to get better. I couldn’t let the weight of my world rest on his shoulders, and mine, too. That just wasn’t fair. My junior year of high school soon ended, and the summer brought relaxation and long-awaited happiness. The storm cloud that had been resting over me lifted, and I was myself again. I called Adam one hot August morning, and we talked for hours. Just as I was getting ready to hang up, he told me that he wanted to see me and invited me to go boating with him and his family that day. I agreed.

The forty-minute car ride to his house was spent daydreaming of our reunion. I couldn’t wait to have him back in my life. My heart had felt so empty without him. I was still very lost in thought when my mom pulled into his driveway. My stomach was tied in knots. I felt like I was meeting him for the first time all over again. I rang the doorbell. I caught my breath as the door opened. And there he stood—my Adam.

Adam and I sat in the bow of the boat talking while his parents sat in the back. I looked out over the water and the wind whipped violently around my face, causing my long blonde hair to come loose from its messy braid.

“You’re so beautiful,” he suddenly said to me. I hadn’t heard those words from him in so long. My heart pounded as I gave a shy “thanks.” Then he said it, the one phrase that would change everything: “I don’t know how I feel about you anymore, Amy.” I sat in shock, staring out across the graying sky. This can’t be true, I thought to myself. This can’t be happening. I looked at him, hoping that he would laugh and say that it was all just a joke. But the serious look on his face proved that he wasn’t joking. I knew from that moment on, nothing would be the same.

I was right.

We soon began fighting, which was very out of the ordinary for Adam and me. We had always gotten along so well. He started pushing me away when I tried to reconcile, saying things like, “People change. Feelings change. You just have to learn to live with that.” I had never felt so hurt in all my life. What had I done wrong? I had given him all of me, and I thought he loved me, too. I felt as though the past two years had been nothing but lies. I was left without any reasons, wondering why I had lost him. I pored over his e-mails and notes, and cried for the memories that remained buried in my broken heart. The tears stung my cheeks as I remembered those terrible words. While he moved on, I just couldn’t bear to let him go. He was my first love, the first and only boy I ever said those three precious words to. I couldn’t forget. I was hurt, angry and lost. I wanted nothing more than to cry myself to sleep and never wake up.

That was almost a year ago. Although I’ve let go of all the hurt and sadness, I haven’t forgotten. We may have been young, but we shared something most people wait a lifetime for. He showed me what it meant to love wholeheartedly. He never judged me. He loved me for the girl I was and made me feel beautiful even when I thought I wasn’t. He changed my life in an incredible way, and for that I will always love him.

Amy Catalano

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