THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: A LAMENT 👯

Another entry for Sharing Week
  1. It's late on the evening before Labor Day. I'm sipping a gin fizz with sprigs of fresh mint floating in it. No one else is here. Bob Dylan is spinning on the record player. I'm 42 years old. And I'm remembering you...
  2. During the summer between junior and senior years of high school, I had a part in a children's theatre production of HOW TO EAT LIKE A CHILD in Appleton, Wisconsin. There was a girl in the cast named Sara. Very pretty. Very shy. I heard through a friend that she had a crush on me. But I was oblivious because I had a crush on a different girl: Katie
  3. Sara and I had several scenes together. We were playing two characters that were brother and sister. For one scene, the two of us waited in the eaves for several minutes for our cue to go on stage. And in the darkness, I could smell her perfume. And the shampoo she used. And I could feel her eyes on me. But we never spoke. And then we were on.
  4. Katie was dating someone else. But I was one of those kids who always wanted to date girls I could not have. Our play debuted and there were several shows over the course of the week. When we were all together, breaking down the set, someone handed me a note. It said "I enjoyed being in the play with you, Chris. Good luck with Katie. Love, Sara."
  5. Later that school year, I finally noticed Sara and asked her out on a date. I didn't deserve her, but she accepted. We rented a movie and watched it at her house, sitting in separate armchairs in the living room. In my periphery, I saw her glance over at me and then quickly look back at the television.
  6. After the date, she walked me out to my car and we said good night. I wanted to kiss her but...didn't. I was too shy. And she was too shy to kiss *me*. We went on a few more dates. I knew she really liked me. And I liked her. But whenever the magic moment came...when I should have grabbed her up and made out with her, I could not. She could not.
  7. Several years later, I was in college at the University of Minnesota. Sara was a year younger than me, and I was living with a guy named John that was also friends with her. Sara and her friend Kerrie came to visit us during Christmas break. Sara had just broken up with someone. I was not dating anyone at the time.
  8. Sara and Kerrie showed up and we got high in my dorm room. John went to stay for the night at his girlfriend's apartment. Kerrie went to visit with some other friends at a different dorm. Sara and I were alone in my room for the entire night. We talked. We listened to music. I felt the same old feelings of desire for her. I was drawn to her.
  9. When it was time for bed, I offered her my bunk and rolled out a sleeping bag on the floor. She used one of my t-shirts as a pajama. She took off her pants and climbed into my bed. I turned out the lights and lay on the sleeping bag. As music continued to quietly play, I lay there for hours, trying the muster the courage to climb up to her.
  10. But. I. Didn't. Why? Why? And the next morning, Kerrie and John came back. And we all had breakfast. And then she left. A few weeks later, I wrote her a letter and told her that I'd wanted to climb in bed with her and would that have been okay. She wrote back and said "Of course it would have. Why didn't you, dummy??"
  11. A few more years later, I was living in Chicago and Sara was in college in Beloit, Wisconsin. We were still pen pals. She wrote and asked me to come visit her for the weekend. So I borrowed a friend's van and drove up. She had a party at her shared house. It was a blast. And everyone got drunk. And at some point she told me she was going to bed.
  12. But it was a big house. And she didn't tell me which room was hers. So when I finally wanted to go to sleep myself, I found an empty bunk with no bedding on it. In an empty room. And sort of half slept under the light of a full moon. And the next morning I drove back to Chicago angry. Why didn't she make sure to tell me where she'd be??
  13. And she had been angry, too. Because she had wanted me to find her in her room. And she says she had told me which room was hers. Alas.
  14. And later when I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, we crossed paths again. She was in town with her boyfriend. And all of us had drinks. And there was a moment when her boyfriend left the room and the girl I had been dating wandered off. And Sara and I talked. And laughed. And it was electric. And we flirted. But...it was too late.
  15. And then she got pregnant. And lived in Ireland for a time. And I got married and moved away. And she got married and had another child. We're still friends and I call her on her birthday and we exchange pictures of our children. And one time a few years ago, I told her how I always thought of her as "the one that got away" and that I was sorry.
  16. Sorry that I never told her how I felt or put the moves on her when I knew that she longed for me to do just that. And she smiled. And said something like, "Well maybe in some parallel universe you did and we ended up together."
  17. I was an idiot. And everyone reading this, I'm sure, thinks as much. Why didn't I just. GO. FOR. IT. I am filled with fifty thousand pounds of regret.
  18. I'm out on my back deck, Sara. I hear crickets and cicadas and chorus frogs. The only light glints from a distant street lamp and from the stars.
  19. I wish I could sidestep into that other universe, Sara. And kiss you in the eaves of the theatre so that we forgot our lines. And make out with you after our movie date. And climb into my dorm room bed and make love to you. And find you in your room in Beloit and pull you toward me. And know what that life might have been like.
  20. But I can't. All I'm left to do is think about what might have been. And wonder. And sigh. I'm a passenger on a train that's leaving a station, watching on as another train heads in the opposite direction. I wonder who the people are inside of it. And what are their lives like? And where are they going?
  21. And I think "What if?"