Part IV: The one that got away

Sometimes, the best stories don’t have happy endings … or any ending at all.

November 22, 1997. Just turned 15. Eyes laser-lock on a luscious, luxurious young woman with a rapturous smile and pristine eyes. I, still young-and-stupid enough to be brash, approach the vixen and chat her up. We hit it off immediately. I, still young-and-stupid enough to be forgetful, failed to in my quest to capture her phone number. That ride home was sad trombone.

The young miss somehow stalks (pre-Facebook, when stalking took some effort) my Dad on AOL, emails him, and he prints the note out and gives to me. I bounce around the home for several days like a four year-old on a meth bender.

Her and I lived two hours apart, but since my family shuffled between Buffalo and Utica on the regular, Rochester was a sensible place to stop and smell her roses. This back-and-forth continued as we drew ever closer. Ahhhh … puppy love. Nothin’ like it.

I met her parents, and asked her to my prom. The authority figures enthusiastically approved to let her spend the weekend.

And what a weekend it was. Elegant, refreshing, incredible. A superstar-royal couple of the highest order, we were. Her all grace and beauty. Me all beaming pride. We decided we’d be boyfriend and girlfriend, like, for real that day.

We were each other’s first everything. First kiss, first love, first time … first. You never forget your first. We would have went to college together, (Yes, there was a time when Penn State was my ‘safety school.’ Now, I’ll bet I couldn’t even get into community college.) yet I got into my first choice, and spurned a life-long love. We’ll keep in touch, I’m sure.

But one day (April 1, 2001), I stupidly cheated on her with an intelligent, chaotic, inspiring siren a bit closer in proximity. One who lived down the dorm hall. One who got stoned and drunk a lot and played guitar and had devious eyes. She totally did it for me. And then she did it again, and again, and again. The reward for my transgression? We both quit school next month and continued our secret fling from afar. Sounds like a lose-lose.

Devastated one night after failing in my bid to successfully attend University of North Carolina sophomore year, I called my life-long love (and not the girl I left her for) and told her I’d messed up, and I couldn’t see her anymore. She didn’t understand. She said we’d work it out. I wasn’t going to let her. I couldn’t do that to her.

I continued with the other girl for the next six months or so until she left me for a guy a bit closer in proximity. One who lived down the dorm hall. One who got stoned and drunk a lot and played guitar and (one can assume?) had devious eyes. He totally did it for her. Then he hung himself sometime thereafter. Karma’s a bitch in a black comedy.

I immediately reconnected with my old flame. I visited her on her birthday! It was like old times;l that feeling you get when your heart beats out of your chest and your head gets these warm pins-and-needles all over. Kind of like a happy heart attack.

Then she let me know she had a boyfriend, and she was cheating with me, and we could continue to do so, but it had to be secret. I believe that sounded familiar. So, that whole summer we got along and got together, and presented with the opportunity to go to her school again, I reneged and came back to Buffalo. On winter break, she’d be an hour away. And we’d go on speaking and occasionally seeing each other on-and-off for the next few years or so. When I was single, she was not, and vice versa.

I’d run into some hard times based upon mistakes I’d made, mistakes the girl I left the life-long love for thought were okay, and would make herself and encourage me to make. But, the ‘one’ still had love for me, and we got together again in spring 2005. “Old habits die hard,” she admitted.

She was moving to New York, and I could go with her, but I needed to leave my current girlfriend. If you read Part III, you know what kind of straits I was in at this time, so I opted to do the safe thing and stayed close to home. I remember the last time I left a girlfriend it didn’t work out so well.

We’d continue to talk, but the girlfriend found out and I severed ties with the life-long love. She hid my phone for six months, and later smashed a different one in the spring of ’07.

In the summer of ’07, I worked up the nerve to break up with my girlfriend, ironically also after a failed bid to move to North Carolina. One night, in a stroke of luck, I correctly remembered her phone number. I called and left a message. A month later, she called me back.

I stormed out of the bar, victorious, and said “Hello.” We talked several nights for hours until Spring of 2008. I visited her on her birthday. It was like old times. That feeling you get when your heart beats out of your chest and your head gets these warm pins-and-needles all over. Kind of like a happy heart attack.

We laughed, smiled, cried and kissed. When it was time to go, I told her, “I left you a birthday present on your bed.” She returned to find a pair of diamond earrings and a book. That I wrote. On purpose! 600+ pages of every euphoric high and crushing low I’ve just spent 800 words trying to describe to you. The book even ended with her receiving the book as a birthday present. SO ROMANTIC! SO META!!

Miraculously, I missed my flight, and she told me she loved her gift and she loved me and cried and asked me why I had to go. I told her “I can stay. You just say the word, I’ll stay.” She replied … “I can’t ask you to do that. Maybe soon.”

We talked every night for hours. I visited her again the following month. We went out, smiled, danced, kissed, laughed, and cried some more. I had to leave one last time. I told her, “we’ll do it again soon.” Then, she looked away, looked at me and said, “Maybe soon.”

After the trip, something changed. She stopped calling, and stopped trying. Five days a week, to four, to three, to two, to one … to zero.

She’s doing quite well. She bought a condo in New Jersey and makes a boatload of money as a chemical engineer. And I hear she’s getting married. Or so Facebook once told me. I don’t need to put much effort into stalking anymore. I wish them all the best.

It was July 4, 2008 at midnight, the last time I ever heard from her, some 11 years after we first met. Just four words: “Are you still out?”

Yes miss, I am. And I’m pretty sure I’m lost.

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