Looking back, it was easy to see why I fell in love with Jesse at the tender age of sixteen. I was sixteen, and I was everything that came with that age; naive, awe-struck, and most importantly, I was in love with the idea of love. The love that spawned a thousand books, and movies like Titanic and the Notebook, and plays like West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet. I truely believed with all my heart that Jesse was the Romeo to my Juilet. The missing piece that would complete the jigsaw puzzle.
In my eyes, well, my sixteen-year-old eyes, Jesse was perfection. He was older, for a start, nearly eighteen and a senior. The fact that he would be interested in little old me was a shock. A perfect package of neatly gelled, curly hair, a nice height, sparkly eyes, a love of the arts and most importantly, listening when I talked. The fact that he could sing like Frank Sinatra and dance like Fred Astaire had a lot do with my love for him, let's be honest.
And he didn't patronize me when I talked about my dreams. I always talked about my dreams as if they were a reality back then. He was the same. He always said that me, performing Come Home to Me Argentina to packed-out houses wasn't a probability, but an inveitability. For someone to say that to me, after all these years of being ignored, or worse, degraded because of my high aspirations, was like someone had just asked me to play Fanny in Funny Girl on Broadway.
Needless to say, the bubble of perfection was short-lived. He was just using me, it transpired, to help Shelby. Even though he pleaded that he had fallen for me in the process, I knew that it was better off over. Wasn't he away to Los Angeles as soon as his high school career was over?
The first time I experienced a true broken heart was dramatic. It fit me quite well, to be honest. As those eggs cracked as soon as they hit my shaking body, their yolks dripping down my face, hurting me more than any slushie ever would, I swore I would never fall in love as easily as that again.
It wasn't the last time I'd see Jesse. But it was easier each time I saw him, and the last time I did, I was competely sincere when I told him I was happy for him and Giselle. Even when she thrust her left hand in front of me and wiggled her fingers; it was blindingly clear that she wanted me turn green with envy because she got the huge, sparkly rock and I didn't.
I congratulated them and moved on, glad that I'd kissed that frog early in life.
I always thought I was destined to be with Finn. That God somewhere had it written down in a big book that Rachel and Finn were supposed to live happily ever after. Like those in the movies.
Although Finn wasn't - isn't - the sharpest crayon in the box, I found it endearing more than anything else. I loved the way he always took on board what I said, especially when he used 'big words' that I'd said, like degrading. I remember once feeling amazing just because he'd said our height difference was 'disproportionately perfect' (I was later told that a certain someone had told him to say that.)
It didn't matter to me that he'd cheated on his girlfriend - his pregnant girlfriend - numerous times with me. I was too blinded by love to see the truth - that if he'd cheated on his pregnant girlfriend before, then he'd be perfectly capable of doing it again.
I was in a relationship built on fantasy and naiveity.
The first few months as Finn Hudson's girlfriend were perfect. That wasn't any other way to describe it. I felt like I was constantly walking on air, floating. If this was love, I had thought many a time, then I don't want to ever fall out of it. Unwittingly, I became depedant on Finn and on this feeling. It was only later that I realised that for the majority of Finn and I's relationship, I felt out of it, drugged. Drugged with love, and that's exactly what I was. Drugged. (Not literally, of course. Metaphorically. I would never take drugs or condone anything associated with them).
When I found out he'd slept with Santana, my whole world starting falling to pieces around me - or the floor beneath my feet had fallen through. Everything I had known in life had been shaken.
Of course, I'm very dramatic. So it wasn't like somebody had died or anything, but it was still devestating, okay?
Even though I spent numerous weeks after this event trying to win him back (yes, I had gone off and made out with Puckerman, but I was unhappy, okay? He was so jealous when I was dating Jesse that he slept with Santana. Case closed.) my efforts failed. It took some choice words from the most unlikely person - Santana - who made me see that a part of me didn't want him back, that knew that I would be unable to fully trust him again.
And that's how Santana and I became friends.
Yes, unlikely best friends of the century, right? But the fact that we were so different made us pretty epic friends, in the words of Satan herself (I'm about the only person other than Brittany and Puck that can get away with calling her that).
Once I came to my own epiphany about Finn, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had spent too long obsessing over him, even during my relationship with Jesse, it had always been about him. And for the first time, I was experiencing life without Finn Hudson as the backseat driver. Even though he would always be my first love, I was leaving him behind - waving at him in the rearview mirror as I metaphorically drove away.
Santana and I were bridesmaids at Finn's wedding. I never thought I'd be a bridesmaid of Quinn Fabray, but we became pretty good friends once she'd left the Cheerios and we'd cleaned out all the bad air between us. She and Finn had got back together a few months after Finn's and I's breakup. She and Sam had parted ways soon after us, and it was inevitable that Finn and Quinn would get back together. They were always meant to be, I guess. Inevitable. Their love for each other was stronger than anything, even strong enough that Finn could forgive her for lying about babygate. Quinn's grown up a lot since then, of course. So has Finn. They make a beautiful couple, and their child will be gorgeous when it is born in the summer.
I spent the whole of their wedding flirting with the best man.
Fairytales tell you that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. What they don't tell you, however, is how many frogs you have to kiss, what your prince will look like, or whether your prince has been right in front of your nose the entire time.
Sometimes they are on the edge of your vision rather than right in front of you.
If you had told the sixteen - no, fifteen year old me that he would be my prince, I would have laughed all the way from here to Lima. Sixteen year old me would have asked if I was drunk or on a drug of some kind.
Seventeen year old me could maybe have believed it.
Our relationship began with a week of making out on my bed, which then was halted by - what I called - creative differences. I thought we were so different that we wouldn't work out. Maybe if I had stuck with him instead of going after Finn, I wouldn't have experianced the heartbreak of him or Jesse.
But by the time our junior year was starting, we were in a relationship. When Finn started dating Quinn, he took this as confirmation that Finn was over me. Which made it okay for him to admit his feelings for me, or so he told me. He hadn't wanted to make a move after all he and Finn had been through.
When he told me, speaking rather quietly and not making a ton of eye contact, I realised he'd always been in front of my eyes - well, to the side, as Finn had always taken centre stage for me. He'd been hanging around in the background, waiting patiently for his turn in the spotlight.
When it had come to the student body's attention that we were in a relationship, I was famous. 'She's the one that's tamed the Puckerone,' someone had said, pointing at me as I walked the halls. I was momentarily distracted by Jacob Ben Israel, who had been standing before me threatening to kill himself with a biro pen if I didn't end my relationship. Luckily Miss P had dragged him away for some serious therapy - but then I came back to the previous statement. I hadn't tamed him, not really. He'd just grown up.
Grown up enough that he managed to stay in a monoganous relationship. Not that I didn't trust him - I did, with my life. Others didn't. Rumours of cheating and straying dogged us, but we didn't let it get to us.
The first time we really, properly argued was when my acceptance for Julliard came through. The day before, his acceptance for OSU had come through. We didn't want to live apart, but he didn't want to move to New York and I refused to live in Columbus.
We broke up for a week and didn't speak at all, before he turned up at my door with a NYU acceptance letter in his hand and a smirk on his face.
We've been living there ever since.
And let me tell you, there is nothing like a New York sunrise. Seeing all the buildings in Manhatten backlit by the orange fireball. I'm watching it now, as I'm writing this, on my balcony. It's a gorgeous sight, to see the city like this. Even at this early time in the morning, the city is alive. Like in the mornings when you are blinking against the morning sun, the light burning your eyes slightly. I can smell coffee and toast, and I hear the occassional rumble of the subway as it zooms underneath the city.
We've only been back to Lima a few times since we moved. The last time we were back was six months ago for Finn and Quinn's wedding. I was a bridesmaid, as previously stated. Noah was Finn's best man, and it was amazing to see everyone from glee club all there together. I see Santana regularly because she likes to stop by without telling us - she moved to New York with her boyfriend, a guy she met when she was up visiting us one time. They aren't together anymore - in fact, Santana is seeing Sam again - but she loved the city too much to move away. Kurt moved to New York as well and he likes to phone up and tell me that I'm going for coffee with him for a catch-up and I don't have a choice. I find it amazing that we've all remained friends. Especially Santana, Quinn and I - never did I imagine that I'd be shopping for red carpet outfits with Santana Lopez and have Quinn's Fabray's three-month baby scan on my fridge. But I guess that's what life is. Unexpected.
Some people may think it's presumtious to be writing my biography at the age of twenty-two, but I want to remember everything clearly, not struggle to remember certain details at the age of sixty. Keeping a record of everything is something I've been doing since I was fourteen. Noah makes fun of me for it, but at least now I know it's all in a loving manner.
I hear the french doors open, and I turn to see him leaning against the doorframe, rubbing sleep out of his eye. I sigh. In the weirdest way possible, he is my knight in shiningly bright white Calvin Klein's.
"You know I don't like waking up to an empty bed, Rach," he says, his voice gravelly with sleep. This is when I love him most - when he's open, vunerable. When he's Noah.
"Sorry," I say, turning around so I'm leaning against the balcony railing. "But I wanted to get this finished."
Noah rolled his eyes at me, moving closer so that his arms encircled my waist. "Always fucking writing."
It was time for me to roll my eyes at him. "Language," I say softly, like I always have done. Just because we've left high school and have grown older doesn't mean that he has to swear like a sailor every two minutes. I kiss him gently. "Just writing about us. About how thankful I am that life turned out like this."
"Hmm," Noah says, kissing the top of my head. "You mean, instead of being a St. Jackass or a Hudson, you get the honour of being a Puckerman instead?"
I can hear the smug smirk in his voice and I smile as I bring my hands up to rest on his face. The ring that I wear on the third finger of my left hand glinting in the early morning light, looking almost as if it were on fire itself. "Hell yeah," I laugh, smiling as we look out over the city as it awakes. "More than you'll ever know."