Things won’t work out romantically with most people we meet. That’s why there’s this idea of “the one”, or, ok, maybe “the very few”. There has to be opportunity for real connection on both sides, but so often that gets thwarted by both seen and unseen factors.
So let’s talk about the ones who didn’t work out, but left an imprint on our hearts. I don’t mean the 5 or 10 year long relationships, where we got to know someone deeply. I mean the people we may have only known for a few months, a couple weeks, or even just one night – the ones who still hold so much mystery for us because we never got to know their earliest childhood memory, their craziest travel story, or how they take their coffee (or do they prefer tea?).
We never got to see them rib their siblings at holiday parties, or their look of surprise as they open an unexpected gift, or how serious they get when asked about their political views.
For many of us, we often meet people at the wrong time and place. They weren’t ready for someone like us at the moment we came along. Perhaps they were still recovering from a breakup and couldn’t see us beyond the haze of their ex. Or they had to endure a disastrous relationship first in order to make them truly appreciate how we are the complete and utterly beautiful opposite of what they thought they wanted, but we met them too soon. Or maybe a certain chain of events has to happen for them to see our beauty and uniqueness in a certain light that makes us irresistible to them, but one small misstep altered the course. Or maybe they live in a foreign country we’re just visiting for a few days, and the distance later becomes their enemy.
We sometimes ache for those people and what could have been – even though it never could have been. We fall in love with the
idea of how it might have gone had the circumstances been tweaked a bit, had they gotten to know just a few more details about us. We kick ourselves for not saying just the right thing to sway their hearts towards us. We sometimes even create a person in our minds who doesn’t actually exist, as our mind tries to fill in the gaps of the story they started to write for us.
We aren’t angry with these people. They didn’t do anything hurtful. We’re glad we met them. We just met them at the wrong
He had impressed me with his bottomless knowledge of the city I was visiting, the city he called home. We had similar life
experiences and shared them over drinks at a packed rooftop bar in a tropical city full of color, sweat, and desire. We danced for what felt like hours. I loved his eyes, hair, and smile. I taught him a few new English words and phrases that I hope he’ll associate me with next time he uses them (skinny-dipping, linger, soundly). He told me I was beautiful countless times, and promised me we’d meet again one day.
Afterwards, I imagine him being a few years older to match his deep intellect with politics and history, his fluency in five languages, and his responsibility to his family after losing a parent. I imagine him following through on a briefly mentioned desire to apply to a prestigious graduate school in my city. I imagine him moving here from 2,200 miles away, and helping me learn Spanish while I show him all the marvels of my homeland that he has never visited.
And then I feel crazy because it was just one night. A little less than 24 hours total before I had to fly home, back to reality. But there was a connection made in that time. Sometimes that’s all it takes for people who are already on the same wavelength.
Or sometimes it’s all in our heads, and the other person has no idea of the part they play in this fantasy world we’ve created.
We will probably never see each other again, probably never talk again. It meant something different to both of us.
But for me, at least now I know that he’s in this world with me. I’m now richer for it. And that will have to be enough.