The Man That Got Away

Lonely man walking on a foggy beach
Lonely man walking on a foggy beach

Three years. Two small words can make such a crucial period of time in a person's life sound like some of the most casual moments. It doesn't say enough, it couldn't. It's hard not to overthink sharing an experience like spending three years of time with a person. Sure, break ups happen every day. We meet someone we are completely infatuated with, we spend each waking moment with them, we see them naked, we see them drunk, you fight and then you make up. Then out of nowhere like a car that runs out of gasoline on the side of the road, it stops. It almost seems inevitable. Maybe I was naïve in thinking this cliché pattern wasn't going to happen to me. Maybe I thought I was more special, maybe I thought we were more special. Maybe, I was wrong.

I met the most charismatic, electric, handsome and kind hearted person three years ago. For purposes of protecting his identity we will call him "Dimples." I have never been so drawn to anyone before, it was almost like Dimples had a gravitation pull like the moon. I think what I loved most was how easy our connection was. There was no fuss, there were no games, and we simply were there for each other from the start and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. We became the team anyone would hope to be a part of. Our friends became friends, and we traveled the country partying city to city. I can truly say I never have had so much fun in all my life.

It was exciting looking back, the way we used to daydream about how we would move away to California together. It was nice to sit on the couch drinking coffee out of our California mugs talking about all the ands, if's and buts. I'm sure anyone who has ever been in love can relate, what's more fun than daydreaming? When that time finally arrived, and he got a job in San Diego I had to make a choice. I either stayed, or I went. I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to move across the country for someone else, someone who I truly still do love. I took too long in deciding, and he couldn't wait any longer and pulled the plug. I have days when I can look at my choice and feel strong about it, and I have days when I think about my choice and I want to cry. When my mind thinks about how I lost one of the best things I had ever had, I can't help but feel scared.

I received a text the other day from Dimples. Dimples gave it to me straight no chaser, he was moving on and he was happy. He wanted to be courteous and let me know before anyone else got to me first and spilled the news. Naturally it felt like a swift kick to the balls. "We broke up five months ago; we were together for three years, someone else already?" I pondered. "The thought of kissing people gives me anxiety, and he's on to his next?" That was that. It was the official signal to let it go. It was time to man up and move on with my life, stop pining and listening to Cat Power on a loop alone in my room. But in all sincerity, how do you just move on from being in a three year love affair? One where you were so close to picking up and following the one person you always thought would be by your side. Then you look, and poof, gone.

All sorts of things started rushing through my head. "What does he look like? Is he more attractive than me? Does he use the pillows I picked out for Dimples' couch?" (Mexican -- bohemian style and yes they were bitchin'.) And lastly, "he sleeps on "my side" of the bed." I stopped dead in my tracks. It was the first time I realized I no longer had a side in that big California King bed, the place where we shared some of my most important moments. Vivid memories like telling each other that we loved each other for the first time. I was crushed, there was my "ah ha" moment. I no longer had a physical place holder in Dimples' life. My toothbrush thrown out, any extra pairs of underwear left in the move gone, I was officially on my own even though we had broken up five months prior. I officially became the single one, the one still alone. The one who got left behind to watch the memories play in a loop behind my eye lids as I try to fall asleep at night.

Three years later, I'm still here. In my small town feeling, well, pretty small. He ran off to the "best coast" as the kids like to call it these days. Bathed in a glamorous San Diego light the city seems to illuminate. So I'm left with one big question still; is he the man that got away? Or is he the man that was supposed to go away, so I can move on to whatever the hell it is I'm supposed to be doing next? I doubt I'll ever find an answer to that question, but in the mean time I'm left in limbo. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me "everything happens for a reason" dammit I'd at least own a condo.