It was instant. We gravitated towards each other between the comings-and-goings of conversation and eating and drinking. One moment he’d be subsumed in the crowd of old friends and I’d be dipping carrot sticks in humus but it was like with every leap we took into the air we would fall, inevitably, back to earth. As soon as he’d disappear he’d be by my side again, or I by his, although we didn’t notice in those first few hours—that we didn’t want to be apart, that we belonged in each other’s orbit. It was a very special first meeting.
As the night progressed we separated, held together by text, and found each other again. He kissed me in a crowd of people, and after that we held hands until the morning. We went home and lay together, held each other, touched each other. We didn’t have sex but we stared into each other’s eyes, and fell asleep eventually, just so. In the afternoon we woke up and we kept holding hands, and for four days more our fingers remained intertwined.
At the end of it all, he had a plane to catch, a place to be that was not the place where I was, so I said goodbye. I felt a sort of relief—a weight lifted from me as the chance of falling in love careened down a runway, rushed upwards and sped into the distant north. But he still wanted me. He still called me up, convinced that we could make it work. He did not anticipate how stubborn my resolve would be. I was not going to have this long distance relationship with this perfect man who liked me because I was me and not in spite of it—I would not submit to the idyllic offerings before me.
And so the earth rearranged. My front yard filled with flowers and I found someone else—so did he. I descended into the emotional turmoil of a broken relationship and we eventually lost contact, only to find it again, much later, but again, very far apart. He still had someone new holding his hand, and I was alone again. Sometimes, I would think, “what if?” What I had’ve had the courage to trade in my spontaneous frivolity, my itchy feet, my adoration of my own wild adventures for what, as far as I could tell, was a partnership with a person over whose cogs mine ticked over in well oiled synchronicity?
We all have at least one proverbial The One That Got Away; some of us have more. That special someone that was a little bit too right at a time that was a little bit too wrong. That special someone who came along right when we were just starting to figure it all out; when we were so happy alone that the thought of sharing inspired anxiety instead of warmth. That special someone who, in our stubborn, selfish, impulsive state of mind was too easy to love so instead become a discarded edition in our already overflowing “too hard” basket.
So will come the day when you will be faced with regret—maybe because that person has forgotten you, maybe because they’re happy holding someone else’s hand. Or maybe it’s simply because the bitch hindsight whispers in your ear as you lay awake at night, reminding you always of your youthful arrogance. You feel ashamed of your foolhardy conceit, because really, that’s all it was that made you push that special someone away. And so maybe your regret is less about the absence of your special someone, and more about your own shame at your over-wrought self-importance and abhorrent expectations of what should or should not be at any given time. Either way, you feel restless.