First of all, because I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to say it, I’m sorry.
I can come up with all sorts of excuses. I was young and foolish, self-centered and naïve and, most of all, cowardly. But the truth is I’m just sorry.
As the years pile on, my memories get even hazier than those summer months already were. I should never have been so blasé with the attention I received from you; I should not have made such messy and half-hearted attempts to court you—as much as I could back then—without being able to follow through. You deserve more than that. I have come to a place of forgiveness of myself. I hope you have, too.
I don’t know how things would have been if they’d been different, but I do know that they would have been different.
Now, you’ll always be the one that got away.
It seems a bit essentialist to reduce you to a cliché. You’re a living, breathing human with strengths and struggles like anyone else, and not just a phrase in my head defined solely in relation to myself.
You’re also someone I feel a lot of gratitude toward.
That’s another thing I don’t think I’ve ever told you—thank you.
Thanks for waking me up, pulling me out, reflecting myself back toward me like a crisp, clear mirror and provoking an impetus for change. Even if that change took me years to implement.
Where does that leave us now?
I remember the last time I saw you. I was walking through that house party in an unbelieving daze of déjà vu while the dream I’d recently had unfolded around me.
There you were in the kitchen.
My left leg suddenly went numb.
Even though we didn’t talk much that night, it was an affirming moment for me—each of us are on our own paths, displaced from the brief moment they nearly collided together. I hope you’re finding yours suitable to your temperament.
We have these “ones that got away” in our lives for whatever reasons, though the reasons may shift over time the way mine have seemed to. Our brief yet significant encounters have stayed with me, even as I’ve let go of my romantic notions and suppositions about what it means to care for someone.
So thank you for the learning I still manage to glean from our encounters, however periphery they are.
I do not know when or how or if I shall see you again.
You have, after all, gotten away.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Guenevere Neufeld
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Flickr / martinak15