I remember the first time I saw him. I was in his apartment. I was somewhat dating his roommate, and it was my first time at his place. I was sitting on the couch, when he came from behind me. “My girlfriend gets me flowers, and all I have a is a beer bottle to put it in” he joked. He had thick black kinky hair, sharp facial features, scrawny. I instantly fell for his loud objectionable laugh. It's a funky phenomenon, isn't it? Love at first sight. But I felt it. I felt it with him. He was wearing a Cosby like sweater, and baggy jeans. It was the year 1999, and we were dumb but didn't know it. I was 16. He was 24. I had met his friend through work. I was a caterer through a company in town. We mostly did low budget weddings. The food was simple - baked chicken, roast beef, sometimes fish. I was lucky enough to work with a few good friends. We would spend our breaks, flirting with the kitchen crew, and smoking cigarettes in the back of the box truck. We would hike up our skirts in hopes to gain some under the table tips from drunk old party goers. We would sometimes sneak a glass of champagne. The guy I was dating at the time, worked in the kitchen. We only dated very briefly and the only date I remember was a trip to the movies, and to Wendys for a frosty, which was my request - I was a cheap date. He truly was a very nice guy. A nice guy who was much older than me, a little rough around the edges, and had a child and an ex wife. Our relationship - or lack there of - quickly fizzled out. Which was fine by me, because remember- I was in madly love with his roommate. Luckily, even though things didn't work out with us, I was able to keep in touch with his roommate via mutual friends. And come to find out, he felt the same about me as I did him, and maybe even more. We spent hours chatting online, through chat messaging. He was all I ever thought about, day in and day out. He convinced me that no one on this planet could love me more than he did. I believed it to be true, because at that time - it absolutely was. But remember, I was only 16. He was 8 years older than me. As much as I wanted him, as much as I craved him - I was too practical. What would my parents say? What would my friends say? No one would would imagine that a 24 year old could genuinely love a 16 year old. So, years went by and I continued to keep myself away. I didn't let myself do what I wanted - I didn't let him do what he wanted. We dated other people. We maybe even loved other people. But we always came back to each other. Years later, I found myself in college. I had a rough night - had too much to drink. I was in the city - he was home, about 30 min away. I called him, I told him to come get me - that I needed him. He said, “listen, you're drunk. You don't know what you are saying. Go home, call me when you get there” I didn't let him hang up. I convinced him to come get me. And he did. He picked me up and drove me to his place. Everything was foggy. I had drank too much - but I knew exactly what I was doing, and I knew exactly where I was. We got back to his place, and I crawled into his bed. He got in next to me, laying down by my side. I could smell him. I wanted to feel him. I loved this man with all my heart - with all my everything. I wanted to show him how much I treasured him, and treasured all our years together. We had never been together like this. And then we made love. We didn't have sex, we didn't fuck, no - we made love. We melted into each other. I told him I loved him over and over, and he told me the same. I had never felt that way before, and I haven't since. Ours is a story that never turned into a story. A relationship never fully realized, always from a distance. But it was ours. He was my secret - a special treasure I wanted to keep to myself. He was all mine. He was sacred to me. Unfortunately by the time I was smart enough to realize this, he had moved on. And though I do not blame him now - I did then. Many years of pursuing a love that wont take the chance proved exhausting. There were times in those first few years, that I would think of him, and my chest would get so heavy, and the tears would swell up. I would find myself feeling like I had lost something that would never be found again. Those ugly words, “the one that got away” would ring in my head. But life moves on, and I have as well. I no longer hear a song and think of him. I am no longer swimming in regret, there are no more what ifs. But I will always hold a place in my heart, body and soul for him, and I hope he is doing the same for me.
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