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Margot: It is ironic that our relationship began with a “random” hookup at a post-prom party junior year and a conversation about shoelaces. Jack was wearing a Santa Cruz t-shirt and untied shoes, this was in severe contrast to the other high school students in their formal attire. We would hang out regularly after our first encounter. Horror movies, walks through Mountain Lake Park, different parties, and the 4th of July Fair encompassed the beginning of our relationship. Initially, I stifled my feelings for Jack. I feared that he was not falling for me as quickly as I was falling for him. Then I took a risk and told Jack I liked him.

When I left for Colorado for four weeks during the summer, I knew I was in love with him. There was something deep within me that pulled me to him. I felt as though I could always feel where he was in a room even if we were surrounded by other people. It was always him; he always stood out to me. Two days after I came home from Colorado, Jack told me that he loved me. There was never a doubt in my mind that I loved him, even when I was unsure what love actually felt like. 

We made a pact at the start of our senior years to not discuss colleges. With friends, teachers, parents, coaches, and adults constantly asking about our futures, Jack provided an escape from the constant bombardment of stress. I loved being able to talk about anything non-college related with Jack; he could confidently, respectfully, and intelligently carry a conversation about any topic.

Jack: In a very literal sense, there was an elephant in the room and we both felt it…it was heavy because from the very beginning both Margot and I knew that what we have is special. To a certain extent, it is ineffable. Sometimes the most powerful and/or beautiful things in life are better left without words or photos; a photo may speak a thousand words, but love speaks more words than I could ever write. Alas, as accurate as the photo or words may be, they will never do that love justice.

Margot: I think our pact created more tension then diffused it. When our parents or friends brought up college and our futures, we would shy away from the subject. Communication is and was one of the founding characteristics and values of our relationship, but in the context of college, we avoided it. All of the pent up feelings, words, and conversations resulted in an explosion of emotion one Saturday night after a San Jose Sharks hockey game. The whole night I was feeling distraught, but instead of telling Jack how I felt (as I do with everything else) I bottled it up. Upon reflection of our approach to college and leaving, I regret not having more healthy communication earlier in our relationship. While discussing futures and intentions is difficult in a new relationship, communication on all levels is essential to the well-being of both partners. Communication should never be forcibly limited in a relationship - if someone needs to say something they should be free to express it without limitation.

Jack: I cannot stress enough how the keystone of any relationship is communication. As communication is established, one learns to trust their significant other. Something Margot and I have always cherished is how safe we feel around each other. This is a result of our trust and ability to openly talk about anything.

Communication and trust has also helped us problem solve in our relationship. I think it is safe to say we have both made mistakes and hurt each other’s feelings at times. It is crucial to note that we both have enough perspective to know that no relationship is perfect; even the most fairytale lovers have bumps in the road they travel together. Upon encountering any sort of hiccup, minor or major, both Margot and I have tried our hardest to be as upfront as possible with each other. This has, by no means, been easy for me, whether I am the person who has hurt or been hurt. 

I am so grateful for Margot. Without her, I know that I would not be anywhere as close to as comfortable opening up as I am. When I make a mistake, she not only accepts my apology, but she often makes sure I don’t beat myself up too much over it (I am quite self-critical). She asks me if I, the one who messed up, am okay. When she makes a mistake (which is once in a blue moon) she never tries to justify it, she listens. She then goes above and beyond to always let me know that she will do whatever she can to make me feel better or closer to her. 

Occasionally, when Margot feels icky, I might internalize those feelings as well - I would wonder if I caused her mood. It was this very self-centered thinking that I believe may have compounded her need to be alone. I took it upon myself to make her happy all the time, which was an unfair expectation. Once I got over myself, I was able to be a better listener, as she is when I feel sad. I even put a reminder in my phone that it is impossible for me to fix everything, so I should simply make myself available to listen. As a result of this minor adjustment, both of us have seen major improvements in both my listening, and Margot’s comfort in opening up to me.

Margot: I think our ability to communicate will allow us to continue this relationship into college. Being physically apart will create extreme strain on our relationship, but I know that Jack will always feel spiritually and emotionally close to me. I will deeply miss sneaking over to each other’s houses, doing homework together when our sport practices were cancelled due to rain, and driving to undiscovered places in Marin. While these traditions and adventures define the early stages and development of our relationship, I know that we will experience many more adventures in the future. If anything, being apart will only make us stronger. My mom always says, “If it is meant to be, it is up to me.” Jack and I both feel that our relationship is meant to be. We are both willing to work for it. Strong and healthy relationships require work, and we believe ours is worth the effort. 

Shafia Zaloom