‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.’
Various days come when there are moments of reflection, you have a wry smile to yourself and try and realise why different things happened or didn’t happen in your life. You know deep down that you can’t always allow yourself to think about what you don’t have, or what you didn’t get, what you have or what you’ve lost. Memories have that way of popping into your consciousness at any given time though, hopefully more good than bad.
Although easier said than done, how is it a good idea to overthink everything, about what’s gone before, about what might have been? Just because someone got away, doesn’t mean that you’ll always be pining for them. No point on missing out on the here and now though, about everything that’s ahead. Don’t miss out on something that could be great just because it could also be difficult, take the leap. Sometimes you tiptoe into the water, but then aren’t you missing out on the adrenaline of plunging in headfirst, who wants to be engulfed with a tidal wave of what ifs?
What if you lose yourself for a minute or two?
It’s a Friday morning, the letterbox makes that familiar noise with mail hitting the mat. There’s a card, much more interesting than the usual utility bills and bank statements. It’s unexpected, it’s not my birthday, it’s not Christmas, so I’m intrigued. The words inside are surprising, ‘I just want you to know that I enjoy your company, that I love being around you. I want to spend more time with you, we could have fun together. If you want the same, meet me on Saturday at 5 where the bus used to collect us to take us to school.’
It’s unsigned, my mind starts working overtime, who could it be? Is it a love letter of sorts? Love letters never used to be thought as something out of the ordinary, but things changed with texts and emails. Why not do either of those things instead, shit, go crazy and dial my number.
Like a Magic 8-Ball, I didn’t come up with any real answers, but then the penny drops and I know who it is, let’s call her L. She’s a lovely girl, very pretty but it’s never going to happen. We’d been spending a lot of time together as part of a larger group, but she’s just split with one of my best friends and there’s a boy code. Once a friend is with a girl, she’s off limits forever. I head for football practice instead on Saturday, I’m too shy to let someone down in person.
There’s also the small matter of someone else, let’s call her M. She’s part of the same group, our parents are friends, so we spend a lot of time together, I’ve been to her house more than once. From the minute I met her, I wanted to know more. Cute, engaging, fun, sarcastic and super clever. Maybe sometimes you can know someone better in ten minutes than someone you’ve known your whole life. Obviously, I can’t say anything. Beautiful ships never sailed by my dock so I couldn’t speak to her, I just didn’t have the courage. A boy having the balls to try and tell an amazing girl that you like them? Like trying to put a jumper on a jellyfish. Despite her obvious physical attractiveness, she was like the ubiquitous girl next door, someone that you could play football with, and happily not mind when you ended up losing. Asking the question might cause the end of the friendship though, she’s too cool to be around and I’m too smart to let that go, so words are left unsaid.
The friendship continues but I have to move away for work. She’s the one that’s being left behind, but I knew full well what that cost of that was, although thankfully M will never know. We could have been two perfect circles entwined, but it is what it is. Thinking of how it could have been if I’d done something, if I’d said something. There’s the feeling of loss, the feeling of never knowing what could have been, the feeling that you let someone that you always wanted slip right through your fingers.
We’re in touch less and less, just everyday life.
Another day comes and that familiar sound of the letterbox is heard again. It’s an invite to a party, catching up with old friends will be fantastic.
Years have passed, M walks in an hour or so after me but she hasn’t changed a bit. Part of me hopes the only reason she even came to this party, is so that she can see me. Pretty arrogant male behaviour.
Everyone is catching up with everyone so we don’t meet again until around midnight. She kisses me on the cheek, we hug and it’s like how it always was, the girl next door is back in my life. Drinks are bought, glasses are clinked, maybe it’s time to say something, Dutch courage always helps, right? Just as I start to say those words that should have been said before, another friend whisks her away to dance. Hours pass and the night winds down. She comes over, leans in for a hug and kisses me, whilst holding my cheek. She puts her mouth to my ear and whispers, ‘I wrote you a card once, asking you to meet me because I wanted us to be more than friends, I was in love with you. I was so hurt and disappointed when you didn’t show up. I’ll love you always, take care.’ My heart drops, I can’t stop blinking. Friends say ‘What is it, you look like you’ve seen a ghost?’
Sometimes we meet people and neither of us guesses that the other is someone who feels it too. That can’t be a good thing.
Soon after, it’s almost like she makes sure that I see her leave with someone else, sometimes you can read the tea leaves as well as anyone. Will another chance come along? No, sometimes you only get one shot. The knowledge that there is one other soul out there who has your number, right down to the last decimal place hurts though. How often does that happen?
You just have to see her and you know that she’ll break you in two.