Ugly.

It was 1991 and I met a boy named Lee. Lee Jeremy Justin Hall. He was a student at the University of Akron, played guitar in a band, had long hair and striking blue eyes. I liked him immediately. 

At the end of our first date, he walked me to my car. He backed me up against it and told me to close my eyes. He kissed my nose, then my forehead. Opened my door, told me to make it home safely so we could see each other again.

We spent all of our free time together. We never did typical date stuff... we just liked to go for long walks, talk, study together. And we liked to read to each other. Our favorite books were The Little Prince and The Tao of Pooh. He eventually moved into my apartment, and before bed I would say, "Lee Jeremy Justin Hall, please read to me." And he did, pretty much every night.

He was well-read and well-spoken, and kind of a tender soul. I remember driving in the car with him... we had known each other maybe a month... and he said, "You are the most unique and interesting person I have ever known." 

And he used to write letters to me. I still have one. And it says:
I want you to know you are the most important person in my life. When I think about you, I can say beyond any doubt "I am living." Thank you for giving that to me. But above all this, I just plain love you. I love you!

We were together for 2 years. And then it happened. I found something he had written. I don't know why I read it, but I did. And it said, "Sometimes I look at Leslie and think, she's ugly. My girlfriend is ugly. Why do I have an ugly girlfriend?"

He came home later that evening in a really good mood and wanted to do something together, but I couldn't be around him. So I feigned illness and went into the bedroom. I sat there, totally upright, shaking, my head about to explode. 

After an hour or so, I walked into the living room and said, "I want you to leave." And I threw all of his belongings into a big pile on the living room floor. He had nowhere to go, really, but I took his apartment key off his key chain and, in my non-violent way, hit him and shoved him out the door. 

And then I cried for a long time. Weeks, months, I don't remember. And, for years, in the back of mind, that word haunted me. Ugly.