The memories of a missed opportunity rise in our heads at the moment we least expect them. For me, it was while rummaging through my closet this weekend, scrounging for blouses and dresses that I never wore, that I can’t wear, that I will never wear. One missed opportunity after another, I think ruefully, yanking a crisp, custom-cut Pink Floyd top off its hanger. Never even had a chance.
My life has currently grown extremely busy to the point that I have very little time to spend on activities that aren’t directly correlated to one of these projects. Unfortunately, this has also included what remained of my casual dating life. No longer time to look other than to indulge a passing, aesthetically pleasing glance.
Like the purge on my closet, there have been gentlemen in my life who seemed to stand primed, merely waiting for me to pull them out and make them an active part of my daily routine. I’d passed them often, admired them, and moved on. Or I tried them on at the wrong time and was left feeling off, unattractive, or just annoyed that it didn’t look the way that I remembered it looking.
Then, days like today arise.
And I realize I’m far too late to try them again.
Swimming Against the River
As I scowl into the box of apparel folded and primed for the Goodwill shelves, somewhere within the bittersweet fog lies the remnants of regret amongst the memories of men whose feelings of attraction were–or were very close to being–fairly mutual between him and myself.
I probably wasn’t as coherent in these moments as I am now. That’s probably why it’s called a missed opportunity.
None of these men are active parts in my life now, as time is the river who guides us all along in life. If they were, I wish I could have a chance to say these things to them, just to let them know…
To Mr. You-Weren’t-Mine-So-I-Never-Cried-For-You
I’ll begin with you, sir.
Of any missed opportunity, our tryst lasted the longest. Probably too long. Part of it was because I kept up the silly hope that, despite everything, it was me you really wanted. Life had just given you a supremely crappy hand.
Funny. There was another guy I was kinda seeing on and off at the same time as you, and I didn’t like him half as much as I liked you. He and I broke up countless times. Almost each time, the tears rushed out heated and heavy. I’d sob to myself, or I’d call a friend and blubber over the stupidity of the relationship to them.
But you? I never cried for you the way I cried for him.
Maybe because he was real.
A Fake Missed Opportunity?
You were a phantom, a ghost, a fairy. You were mythical, beautiful. If I could prove to others that you were real, that would have been truly magical. If I could claim you in my clutches, I would have done the absolute impossible.
Ultimately, you had already been caught by someone else.
For her, you were solid and tangible and touchable and available. When she summoned you, you appeared and lived the mortal live destined for you.
There was nothing I could do. After all, it wouldn’t have been proper to reach into a cage someone else had built for you. Especially when you walked into that cage of your own volition.
It took a fake psychic to exorcise the longing of you from my heart, to purge me of ever wanting to see you again. Take that as you will, and enjoy your life.
To Mr. Touches-Over-a-1000-Piece-Puzzle
The first time our fingers brushed, I wrote it off as an accident. It was a 1000-piece puzzle, and there were yours, mine, and at least five other pairs of hands pawing through the piles of borders, corners, and cogwheel-imprinted cardboard. There were bound to be collisions, and when ours occurred, it was a sweet little tingle. You were considered the cute one in our group outings, but you were also fresh and new. Any interest in my aged mind (and my silly personality) was implausible.
The second time, the touch was impossible to mask for anyone watching. Most of the other puzzlers had given up, wandered away from the table. You and I and a couple of other remained, though the third had leaned back into her phone, her hands occupied by the touchscreen.
The fourth, our host, rose from the table and asked if anyone wanted something to drink. “B?” he called when I didn’t answer immediately.
“Yeah?” I said, and lifted my hands above the puzzle to clear it for any wanderers. As I turned my head in the direction of the speaker, I saw your fingers rise, too. And as I pondered over my beverage options, I felt it–the lightest, slowest trace across my knuckles, my palm. A pause of delicate, interlocking fingertips–just enough to recognize that someone was recognizing, appreciating, exploring.
My train of thought faltered, but I let my hand hover to let you continue–and you did, for a blink. It was probably me who drew back and resumed searching the puzzle piles.
I Wasn’t One of Them
I imagined it all, of course. We hardly ever talked. We moved in different circles. You were sweet and hopeful; I was tired and damaged. I knew the kind of girls you liked. I wasn’t one of them.
At the end of the night, I packed up silently and moved to the front door, panning the room lovingly as general social pandemonium commenced. I stopped when I saw you, standing on the other side directly across from me. You were watching me, carefully. I thought I saw a note of sadness in your body language.
But I must’ve imagined it, just like I imagined everything else. And after all these years, you’d probably have no idea what I’m talking about. So, if I made you uncomfortable, I’m sorry.
But the shy wave and the silent smile you passed across the room made me think that maybe I didn’t have anything to be sorry about.
When I first wrote this post, I thought I had fewer missed opportunities than I actually had.
But then I thought of another…and another…and another.
And I realized something.
Maybe I need to start taking more leaps of faith.