Re-Evaluating a Situation

The Urban Dictionary defines “the one who got away” as: 1. The mate from a past relationship or friendship who, in the present reality, seems the ideal match, if it weren’t for some force beyond your control, fate or otherwise, keeping you apart.

Or…2. In virtually any context, someone you meet and share a significant encounter with who holds qualities akin to “the one” but for circumstance sake you are separated from; always after the fact.

My relationship with David was a continuous string of awkward moments and unabashed flirting but we never got it off the ground. Whether because of interference from our Greek community or my involvement with Lennon,* something kept us from acting on our mutual attraction, which was always physical but also more than physical.

David and I connected. We just vibed together, for lack of a better term. We were awkward together but in a weirdly comfortable way. We were comfortable being awkward in one another’s presence.

For four years, we danced around each other and around the elephant that followed us from room to room and never did anything about it. After I graduated and moved on, I asked a mutual friend about a rumor I’d heard that David was dating another friend. The friend told me he wasn’t seeing anyone; that he was more or less married to his work, but I should give him a call sometime. Implying that there might be a chance we could give the whole thing a real go.

I didn’t call.

In recent years, I filed David away under “the one who got away,” and resolved that I’d probably never know for sure what kept us apart or if we ever could have made anything work.

I had kind of just started healing from the destructive and resolute ending to my relationship with Israel when Cameron came back into my life. But before he resurfaced my subconscious had given him a lot of advertising space. The dreams ranged from mundane and pedestrian to surreal and unsettling – nightmares, almost, for someone less inclined to glean enjoyment from such things. For whatever reason, my brain chose to alleviate some of the pain in my heart by replacing Israel with someone … less threatening?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been nursing a newly broken heart. This project has everything and nothing at all to do with that. The initial idea was to exorcise the old ghosts from the attic to make room for a new romance (novel). Because someone suggested that I had been through enough romantic trials that I could probably write a riveting romance. However, in working through these stories, one name keeps coming up.

Anyone who has been following along has probably noticed that Cameron has taken the reins more often than anyone else from my past. Cameron and I had some noteworthy moments but David and I did as well. And Israel and I had every intention of living together after I graduated. But it’s Cameron that keeps taking center stage. It is Cameron who took over when I set about creating a playlist to inspire these stories (that playlist is currently devoted to him and him alone). And just as he did when I was rebuilding from the destruction left by Hurricane Israel, he has been battling Micah for control of my dreams and my subconscious.

My dreams often function as conduits for messages I need to hear. The only thing I’ve been able to determine from Cameron’s sudden and very present presence in my recent dreams is that maybe I had been wrong all along. Maybe David wasn’t “the one who got away.” I mean, the exact wording of the phrase indicates (cue epic orchestral swell) there can be only one who got away and as I am a person prone to over-complication of otherwise simple matters, I find myself in a position to choose the ONE. But when the chips are down and my heart aches, my brain offers me Cameron – not David, not Alan, not Lennon, Cameron – as a consolation prize. Crazy, gorgeous, punk rock Cameron. Maybe that answers all of the questions for me.

* I promise that I will get to the Lennon saga, eventually. It’s just really heavy stuff and not something I’m ready to lay out in black and white, just yet.

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Before He Would Get Away…

“David told me he thinks you have a hot little body.” I didn’t realize at the time but that wasn’t the first night I had met David.

A couple months before, late in the fall semester, I had gone out with a couple girl friends, Mary and Beth, and we ended up at a house that a couple of the fraternity brothers shared off campus. I had met a couple of the brothers before that but a few others I hadn’t met yet. We were playing drinking games and I was winning. David, I found out later, was the one hobbling around in a walking cast but he wasn’t drinking with us.

Lennon and I were driving back to the campus after bowling with the sorority and fraternity. It was the first night we’d gone out with them and would become something we did every Thursday. David was there every week, which was a big reason I kept going. Any excuse to hang around with him.

But that first night wasn’t about that. I didn’t even know I wanted to find excuses to be around David when I left the dormitory that night. The first night was just about spending time with friends – and Lennon – and getting to know new people. Wasn’t that what university was all about?

Driving back from the bowling alley, Lennon revealed the details of a conversation he had had with David throughout the course of the evening. “David told me he thinks you have a hot little body. He was watching you most of the night.” Whatever I was doing with Lennon was fun but I knew he wasn’t serious. This new information about David made me consider turning my attention elsewhere. It made me consider it very strongly.

I didn’t really know anything about him at the time; I learned more as time went on but at the time, I was operating pretty much on aesthetics. He was a year, maybe two, older than me. Charismatic, charming, and intelligent, with blond hair, blue eyes, a tall and slender but strong build, very much the All-American boy next door, which was – and still isn’t – really the type I am usually attracted to. But still there was something that drew me in and would hold my attention for the next three years, through a hundred different parties and Greek events and 2am trips to TacoBell, through formals and hang outs, good times and a few bad ones.

And even with everything that would happen between David and I throughout our friendship, he will always be my one who got away, if that term still applies when you never had them to begin with. I even still think about him once in a while, wondering if I’ll ever see him again, wondering if he ever thinks about me. I’m pretty sure that’s what “the one who got away” is all about.