Romantic Encounters of the Devon Kind


Listen to the Audio Version Instead:

Romantic Encounters of the Devon Kind

Allow me to bring you into the world of a young Devon… if you’ve followed along my previous blog posts with a propensity to retain the stories, you’ll know male attention is something I craved from a young age, but actually I’ve always been drawn towards the spotlight, regardless of my circumstances. I sometimes wonder if the yearning for it is just part of my authentic code or if it can be traced back to childhood, but alas, nature vs. nurture week is over, so we shant dive into such queries. Imagine if I actually spoke that way… would you still be my friend? That’s always a fun game to play with the people close to you… ‘would you still love me if…’ and get creative – involve siblings in your faux scenarios, relatives, etc.

Back to young Devon… it seems everyone shared a quick kiss and brief romance with their kindergarten crush on the playground – or, maybe that assumption is simply the power of a few Hallmark cards and Reese Witherspoon’s Sweet Home Alabama. I can’t pull up any relevant memories from those years – just the Minnie Mouse bathing suit with the lime green frill straps that I didn’t ever want to take off. “You’re gonna get a rash,” my grandma would say. I do recall having a boyfriend in third grade though, which consisted of the occasional wall ball battle at recess, sitting near each other at the lunch table, and getting one of the Hey Arnold themed Valentine’s cards that said ‘You’re Sweet!’ along with a giant sized Hershey’s kiss that I would never eat.

In fifth grade, I was talking to boys on the phone, and by talking, I mean I would prank call them with my friends on the weekend and annoy their parents – it was very romantic. Roller Rave was a big deal though… Britney Spears came out with ‘You Drive Me Crazy’ and Christina Aguilera had ‘Genie In A Bottle’ on every radio station. I was anxious to get out on the floor and hold hands with the cute boy once the hungover DJ blandly announced, “okay, time for couples skate” while the cheap overhead lights dimmed throughout the building. And I would get through nearly an entire song before my date needed to exit the rink for pickle juice at the snack bar.

Then, as I entered middle school at Granite Mountain, the field of possibilities widened, and I was clearly mature enough to be in a real relationship. I remember getting a note passed to me in English class, which was obviously folded in a tight origami structure… it read, ‘will you be my girlfriend?’ written in pencil, with a box drawn next to ‘yes’ and a smaller one next to ‘no’. My heart skipped a beat as my face flushed red – I could feel everyone staring at me, wanting to shout, “ooooooohh.” I kept my head down as I put an ‘X’ next to ‘yes’, covering my answer so no one could see. And with that, I was dating – we even went to our first middle school dance as a couple… hello, is there anything better than slow dancing to Kaci and Jojo’s ‘All My Life’? Sadly, we had to go our separate ways – he had a gambling problem and I had a shopping addiction.

In seventh grade, I received jewelry from a boy – a dainty gold chain necklace with a heart. We had PE at the same time and I remember we thought it would be cute to trade shoes because we wore the same size… those white K-Swiss were legit. But as you could’ve guessed, our bond was broken – likely because swapping shoes with your partner is never the right call.

Speaking of shoes, sort of… I ran track in eighth grade and we would compete against Mile High; I was “so over” the boys from my school, I couldn’t wait to show our competition my hurdles. And they were so outstanding I had offers from every rival boy. Joking. I mean, not about my hurdles – I did have pretty solid form. But, we would connect with our rivals and start hanging out on weekends. Castle Golf was a real hot spot, with bumper boats, go-karts, batting cages, mini golf, and an arcade – plus, some prime makeout locations. Soon, I was holding hands with the Mile High track star, talking about him with all my friends, spending hours on the phone, and really making him work for my dad’s approval. We were so excited to start high school together – he made the football team and I joined the pom squad – things couldn’t have been more perfect. Until they weren’t… DUN DUN DUN.

The bevvy of options in high school were overwhelming. I had a crush on the kid in my English class that copied off my paper, the sweet upperclassman that took me under his wing, the other upperclassman in my art class that laughed at one of my jokes one time… I needn’t continue. Fortunately, or unfortunately, my partner was just as big of a flirt – we fought regularly and often made moves to spite each other. We broke up almost every other month and tried dating other people. Senior year, he started dating a girl on the pom squad and I started dating another football player – you can imagine the drama; wait – should I write about those times and sell them as episodes to Riverdale? We’ll revisit…

Once I graduated, I quickly started dating someone from PHS; we hadn’t really hung out while we went to school together so I didn’t know him that well. I thought he was a dream to look at – blonde hair, blue eyes, lean, tall… you get it. As always, at first, things were joyous – he would have parties in his guest house all the time and I’d go watch him race sprint cars on the weekends. I quickly noticed some real underlying anger issues, though, which would be brought to the surface more-so when he drank. Instead of communicating like adults, I would let my resentment build, subconsciously calculating each time he was an asshole at a party or mean to someone he deemed as less than. We dated for roughly a year – maybe a little longer. I’m really not the best with timelines, but I’m not going to hop on Facebook to validate because I know I’ll get sucked into the black hole and start looking at articles about saving the ocean or must read information about Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Not too long after this relationship ended, I would meet a bartender at a club – I was smitten from the start. He was kind, supportive, attentive, attractive, and not jealous at all… I was finally shown what a healthy relationship looked like. You know there’s a hitch… about two months in, unhealthy habits were introduced into my world. Talk about a black hole. Because of this, I would harvest even greater resentments, still without the proper tools to communicate my needs. You guessed it, that relationship did not last. I’d go into more detail, but this post is about dating, not about relationships, and plus, I’m working on something that makes me want to shy away from delving deeper.

My next relationship didn’t start as abruptly as all of my previous – it was time for me to take a step back, and do the whole “I’m just figuring out who I am” thing. For the first time as an adult, I was dating. Well, kind of… I wasn’t going on blind dates with strangers – I would hangout with people I knew, always feeling like I was in the driver’s seat.

I really can’t dive into any horror stories about dates I went on, because sadly, I don’t have them. I guess I wasn’t meant to be a singer / songwriter like Taylor Swift.

None of the people I dated during that span would progress into anything serious because the universe had other plans. Drum roll please… Matthew comes into my life! He honestly hit me like a ton of bricks. We met at work and his charm was electric; his wit cut right through me and I would sweat a little when he would come sit near me. We bantered regularly for three months until he asked me out… he just had to wait until December to do this, so now we celebrate my birthday, our anniversary, his birthday, then Christmas within a ten-day window. Poor planning, babe… poor planning.

Our first date really was magical. I remember the brown booth we sat in – I ordered mac & cheese (back when I was still idiocally consuming dairy) and a single Captain Morgan (before I learned about Bulleit Bourbon) with soda water. I was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt with dark denim and a boujee faux fur coat. I could’ve sat there talking with him all night, but we had a movie to catch – Silver Linings Playbook. Man, now I want to go watch that movie again – maybe I’m glad he asked me out in December because that was a clutch first date film. After the movie ended, we jumped right back into conversation. We also jumped into his beat up white Toyota, without heat, that could barely go 55 MPH… we shared a few laughs at the truck’s expense. He would head to New Mexico the next day and spend two weeks there for the holidays – we spoke everyday and he brought back a beautiful silver necklace that I would wear about five times because I’m a serial jewelry changer.

I know I’m setting this up to read as “we lived happily ever after” but even when you meet the one you can see yourself with forever, it’s not a fairytale. I was finally challenged in a way that made me uncomfortable, which caused a lot of tension. Remember when I said I didn’t have the tools to properly communicate my needs? Well, Matthew made sure to get me those tools… instead of being a bitch if I was annoyed with something, I would learn to simply express my thoughts or feelings – this did not come easy. I would also learn it’s okay that I’m a flirty person by nature – something I carried a lot of shame about in previous relationships. We both like to take charge and make decisions, so navigating that was super fun. He’s not as social as I am, so there’s another hurdle we had to jump over together (I had better form though). Okay… I realize I’m now inching away from ‘Dating’ and into ‘Relationships’ so I will take a step back and end with a quote from Malcolm Gladwell; in a recent podcast episode, he said, “all of our systems are optimized through romantic encounters,” which I found very interesting and thought provoking, so whether you’re dating or in a relationship, keep the romance alive. And also, SPEAK YOUR NEEDS because resentments are gross and should be treated like the garbage in your trash can. Shit… I forgot to put the bin out on the road last night.

Devon Herrera

Committed To Curiosity

Instagram: Coffee_With_A_Question