To the girls I never got the chance to love,
Wherever you are in the world right now, I hope you’re smiling. I hope you’re happy. I hope your dreams came true. I hope you have a man who holds you tight and treats you well. I hope everything happened for you the way you hoped it would.
Well, I guess we never got our shot. For whatever reason the universe didn’t want us to be together, which is okay, I’ve made my peace with that. As I’m sure you have as well. Timing never worked out for us. I was headed in one direction, while you were headed in another. We met at the wrong time, or you were in a relationship, or we were both in relationships. We were both too afraid to tell each other how we really felt, so we buried our feelings and moved onto something else. Time made those feelings memories and we healed in surprising ways. We met people that we never built into our plans that ended up being what we wanted all along. When we finally came together, things had changed and we realized it wasn’t what we wanted anymore. We ended up changing and growing out of the people we were when we thought we could fall for each other. The new people we became didn’t quite line up the way it used to. We both sat in silence, afraid to email or call to see how you were, or what you were doing. We let each other fade off into the past as our lives moved forward. For whatever reason, the universe kept us apart. I used to be scared that I would never be able to fully commit to someone else without knowing if we could have loved each other. I used to incessantly daydream of the life we could have had together and where we’d be today. I used to be worried that you were “the one that got away”. But now I’m okay. I understand now that some things in life don’t happen for a reason. Sometimes timing never works in your favour because the universe is trying to tell you that you just aren’t meant to be. We are just another “almost” on the way to finding our “everything”.
I no longer carry that burden around with me anymore. I understand that we were meant to come into each other’s lives at the time we did. We were meant to pass each other in that time for a real specific purpose. Whether we were a lesson, or simply someone who was there to restore hope that had been lost. We were meant to show each other the possibilities of what we could feel and how we could make another person feel. We had a service to provide to each other in that moment. Maybe you just came out of a bad relationship and had been completely battered down and extricated of all your self-confidence, so you met me. I told you how beautiful you were and how much potential you had if you just had the ability to believe in yourself. So I set you on your way. I showed you how to believe in yourself and take chances and reach for your dreams again — something that had been taken from you in your last relationship. So I ended up becoming the set-up man for the guy you met six months later who you fell madly in love with while studying a program you wouldn’t have enrolled in if it weren’t for me giving you that push. I allowed you to see new possibilities and believe in yourself and raise a higher standard for your own life and how a relationship should make you feel. My momentary presence in your life brought you back.
Maybe you and I had that sparkling connection, but we just couldn’t get it to work. We were all build-up, but no follow through. Our relationship is one of those where the yearning is almost worth more than the having. It sits on higher ground as an idealistic platform that doesn’t have precedence in reality. We tried to get together several times, but we could never connect or work the way we imagined. So we became each other’s reality checks. We taught each other that you can never get ahead of yourself in relationships because things can change. We forced each other to reassess the way we view love and grow up in ways that forced us to rebuild parts of ourselves. We taught each other that love, like life, is extremely unpredictable. All you can do is be open and willing to take life where it takes you, adapt to the bends and flows, and believe that it is all going to work out the way it’s supposed to in the end.
Perhaps we barely even knew each other. We met randomly at a music festival and spent the entire day together (one of the best days ever) but before we could exchange information, we lost each other in the fray of festivalgoers, never to be seen again. Maybe we met one week we were both on our own separate family vacations, so we used each other as an outlet to escape our lame family vacays, but actually really started to enjoy each other’s company and developed feelings for one another. After the vacation ended, we kept in touch through Facebook, but eventually the fact we lived in opposite corners of the continent made it pointless to keep in contact. I now see you’re engaged to a guy that kind of looks like me. It could even be a simple moment, like one conversation we shared in passing. You were beautiful, funny, and delightful, in a way that made me think to myself, “I just met you but I’m already jealous of the guy that gets to love you”. Maybe our paths would have crossed each other in an alternate life, but they didn’t in this one. This is all we get, so we smile and dream for a moment before we move on with our lives.
So, our lives are changing quickly, we’re growing up fast and real adulthood is now underneath our feet. Soon we are all going to be married with families of our own. Our roles we change from being searchers to becoming providers. We will no longer have the time to daze into our past and wonder about alternate lives or paths we could have taken. We will close the door on those from our past one final time, and not because of hate or regret, but because we want to be fully present in our lives. We are no longer searching for answers because we understand that sometimes the biggest questions in life are meant to go unanswered. We’re old enough now to understand that not every great connection in our life is going to end up sticking. It’s just about meeting someone who you fall in love with enough that you’re at peace with those you leave behind in your past.
Sometimes I wonder about the life we could have had together, or what it would have been like to get the opportunity to truly fall in love with you and share that experience. But when you’re happy with where you are in the present, you learn that every corner you turned in your past was a necessary experience to bring you to this point in time — every girl you “almost” had it with, every girl you met and lost touch with, every girl the timing never worked out with. All of these just become a collage of faint memories in your heart that encapsulate the story that is going to bring you to the person you end up with. So you learn to be grateful for every person that contributed to the make up of memories that shaped who you are today. You were an integral part of my journey, as I know I was to you. We need to be grateful to one another for that.
So wherever you are — the girls who I could have loved but never got the chance to. Whether you’re getting proposed to by the man of your dreams on the top of Kilimanjaro, pregnant with your first child, or turning your tiny Brooklyn apartment into your own art studio to pursue the passion you were afraid of trying when we knew each other. I hope you are smiling. I hope you’re happy. I hope your dreams came true.
I want to thank you. Thank you for showing me the way, for being my lessons, for being my almosts, for making me feel the way you did, even if it were just for a few fleeting moments. We shared a very specific experience in our lifetime that I’ll always look back on with a smile. If it weren’t for you, if it weren’t for us, if it weren’t for connections and yearnings like the one we share — art wouldn’t exist. We’re the reason we go to the movies, that we take risks and follow our heart, and that we believe in love in the first place. It’s sadness. It’s sweet sorrow. It’s about feeling alive. So thank you for making me feel and understand all those things.
Who knows, maybe the universe is still working and will re-connect us in some way again. Maybe I’ll catch eyes with you some day in the future. You’ll be sitting next to a friend in a coffee shop window and I’ll be pushing a stroller with my newborn baby inside with my wife by my side. Your eyes will light up as you take a giant sip of your Cappuccino. You’ll smile at me, and I’ll smile back. No words will be needed. No conversation. Nothing. One look will be enough for us to know we really could have loved each other.