“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I had a dream last night that I saw an old boyfriend from high school/college. He was still driving the beat-up 1970s VW that he had for a little while when we dated. Even in my dream, I was amazed that thing was still running. I have no idea where we were – but the setting was certainly odd. It appeared we were at some sort of beach mansion that just sparkled with richness. But the VW was still dirty and with primer instead of paint and I’m guessing the hole was still in the floorboard …

I’m guessing I dreamed this because I was telling someone recently about the time the car caught on fire while I was riding in it. I don’t remember being scared when I saw smoke coming out of the hood; I only remember being super embarrassed because it happened at the front entrance of my college. So as I stood outside on the sidewalk while my poor boyfriend tried to figure out how to get the car he’d paid $2,000 for to stop smoking, I was hoping no one I knew would drive by.

This guy and I were never meant to be together; that was obvious from Day One. I was a somewhat shy, innocent, super-moral Bible Belt high school student (no, I’m not kidding), and he was arrested the first weekend after we met for marijuana possession. In fact, as part of his probation he had to attend AA meetings, which I kindly drove him to since he lost his license over the drug charge. He was a high-school dropout, worked blue collar jobs, and he lived pay-check-to-paycheck. He lived with roommates or his mom or his aunt; never a place of his own.

When the relationship was over, my friends and family breathed a collective sigh of relief. I never understood what the big deal was; I wasn’t in it for the long term anyway – I never saw a future with this boy. I guess I hadn’t bothered to communicate that to Mom and Dad, though.

Even now, his name comes up occasionally. But when someone asks me what I ever saw in him, I will defend him to the ends of the Earth: “You know what? He was nice. I learned a lot. And he was good to me.”

At 17 years old, what else could I ask for?

I was giving relationship advice to a friend yesterday. The bottom line of this advice was a quote that I mentioned by Maya Angelou that I love, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

That means – if you’re with someone and something doesn’t feel right about it, then that’s your body telling you what your brain hasn’t figured out yet. Life is too short to settle.

I knew things were wrong with the guy I dreamed about the first day I met him. But I was trying like hell to get over the boyfriend before him, who had just broken my heart, and I thought moving on thefasterthebetter was the solution. And in a way, it worked. And I don’t regret dating the VW guy, but I do think I wasted his time. He wanted a forever with me, and I knew that was never going to happen. Using someone as a distraction from someone else isn’t necessarily the kindest thing one can do.

But I was 17, so I’ll stick to the “I didn’t know better” excuse.

And on the flip side, if you meet someone and you can’t stop looking away, and every ounce of your body is telling you to go to that person – then you go. If it smacks you in the face the moment you meet and you are drawn to the person like a magnet – then you let him in. And if you’re lucky enough to fall in love, then you hang on to that love – life is too short to spend even a moment without him/her.