I'd like to think I'm not the only one who's been in this situation, even though I'm sure it doesn't happen as often as I'd like to assume. Usually when "the one that got away" comes back in the movies, the two lovebirds spill everything they never got to say, yell about how they wrote each other every day, rekindle their flame, and live happily ever after.
Well, this is not a movie, folks. I'm not Rachel McAdams and he was far from Ryan Gosling.
When I first tiptoed back into the dating scene years ago, I met this handsome young fellow who I was completely smitten by. He was tall, beautiful smile, tattoos everywhere, and of course--was a bit of a bad boy.
I know what you're thinking, "You set yourself up for this." But I really didn't. Allow me to explain:
Sure, he was rough around the edges, but he was charming. He was always sweet to me, always kind to me, and did what he could in regard to where we were at in life.
At the time he was around 23 and I was about 20. We were young and he was definitely in the phase of exploring and being young, wild, and free. Me, on the other hand, not so much.
Considering I was a mother, I was looking for something more serious despite my age and prior situation. But, I let him be. And looking back, I still don't regret it. Because although he did his share of dirt, he never dragged me along for the ride. Instead, he kept me at a distance. I was at a safe distance.
Writing this I do realize how stupid it was on my part and how convenient it was for him to pretty much have his cake and eat it too. But still, I don't regret it.
We dated for a couple of months and life happened--it ran its course and we naturally drifted apart. I'd like to sit here and tell you how it went down, but to this day, I still don't know. What I do know is it was never a toxic split. I never hated him, and never resented him. I accepted the Universe telling me he wasn't what I needed at that point in my life and proceeded to live on.
Over the years, he ended up having a child of his own (along with who knows what other experiences), but let's fast forward five years, to the (semi) present day.
Here's where it gets weird but good:
One evening, my best friend and I decided to go to a bar we hadn't gone to in a long time to unwind from a rough work week.
As we walk in, we grab our usual beer, hug some familiar faces, and proceed to the back patio. As usual, we let our eyes browse around to see if there was anything nice to look at (if you catch my drift) and my heart stopped. Chills filled my body and I got this knot in my stomach.
It was him.
I remember blinking hard as if by doing so he would disappear, but no. There he was. Five years later, he stood there just as I remembered him.
I played it cool and briefly told my best friend our history and she proceeded to let me know I shouldn't back track--I didn't listen. The whole night I couldn't stop catching glances in hopes that we'd lock eyes, but we didn't.
The lights flashed off and on indicating the last call and the crowd began to rush out. It was then in the midst of all the crazy our eyes met. He smiled, walked over and with the biggest grin he spoke my name, "Marina."
We rushed outside, and still we were smiling from ear to ear. How did this manage to happen? How did I end up seeing the guy I for sure thought I'd never see again? We had no mutual friends. No way of contacting each other. NOTHING.
As we proceeded to catch up, I find out he noticed me as soon as I walked in and that this whole time, he lived right down the street from me (literally) the last five years, yet, we never ran into each other, never drove passed each other, never walked passed each other.
I felt like the Universe was giving us a second chance and so did he. We exchanged numbers, and from then on we were talking nonstop like we were years prior. He took me on a few real dates, and told me how he was working so hard to be the man he'd always wanted to be for himself and his son. He apologized for disappearing and any hurt he may have caused me by failing to commit when he knew I was more than ready. He also admitted to how much he truly cared and searched hard to explain why he let a good thing go, but even he was at a standstill.
Life happened to us and I reassured him it was okay, because we were here now for a reason.
A few months passed by and little by little his old patterns began to resurface. Texts were getting shorter, I was seeing him less, and my gut was telling me I had been through this before. As I sat in front of my laptop one day rummaging through work to be done, his name pops up on my phone and it would be one of the last times it did so.
"Hey Marina. I'm sorry I haven't hit you up. You know how things have been crazy with me. I actually just wanted to hit you up to let you know out of respect for you, we cannot continue talking. It was fun and I really enjoyed myself with you, but I cannot continue. I respect you so much, enough to tell you why... My ex got pregnant... I don't know what I'm going to do. I just can't drag you along. I do apologize and I thank you at the same time. I hope you understand."
Though my heart dropped and I felt like a fool to think that things could have possibly worked out like a movie, deep down inside I knew it was too good to be true.
I wished him and his family well, and kept marching on. It wasn't the first time he left, but I promised myself it would be the last.
I haven't seen him despite living so close, and I've refrained from texting and asking how he's been. Though the romantic feelings that were once there are no more, the good heart in me still wishes him the best.
Life happened to both of us again, only this time, it hit one harder than the other. And it wasn't me.
Mother and writer doing everything she can in one lifetime. You are appreciated.