Ok, time to start answering questions.
This one had me worried, Maria, but it turned out that this one wasn’t the hardest to answer and, as these things seem to do, it forced me to examine some long held beliefs and feelings and then discard a few.
I’ve thought about this a lot and there can only be one honest answer. I’ve had dates that didn’t go so well, things didn’t click or they did but then things didn’t work out after a short time, but the one date that I really regret is my first date with my second wife.
Z and I worked together and had been friends for a couple of years before we started dating. One night we were at a going away party for a friend. We were both in relationships with people outside work who weren’t present. We danced a few times; the last couple were slow dances. During one of these she asked why I was with the girl I was with at the time, being slightly drunk I told her it was because she wasn’t available.
"You didn't wait long enough," she replied.
By the next night I was single, derailing the fuck out of my karma. A few weeks later she broke up with her boyfriend. Not long after, I was at a cookout and called her to see if she wanted to come over. She said that she didn’t feel up to it but suggested that we go out that next Thursday night.
I picked her up at her parents’ house as she had moved back in with them after her breakup; she was wearing a little black dress and looked amazing. She always looked amazing, it didn’t matter what she was wearing or doing; no makeup and wearing an old flannel shirt and she was still gorgeous.
That night we went out to eat at an Italian place then went to the movies and saw “There’s Something About Mary.” It was a very good first date and not long after that we were engaged and she had moved in with the kids and I. Everything just felt…right.
I was very comfortable with Z; she became the best friend I’ve ever had. I never wanted to be apart, I could not wait to get home after work and hear her inside the house yelling, “Daddy’s home!” while the wiener dog went ape shit as I was getting out of my car.
I also took her for granted and something else happened toward the end that doomed what was (though I didn’t see it at the time) a weakened relationship. Not anything either of us did and I’m not going to write about it, but it put a tremendous strain on us.
I used to get this little panicked feeling when we were together, usually as I’d drive by a place she used to live before we were together. It was just this split-second of ‘What if I hadn’t found her?’ but it would physically startle me.
To have found and lost is so much worse.
Four years later the pain has receded and I no longer feel like the amputee with his ghost limb, waking up feeling all is right with the world only to have reality come crashing in a second later, but sometimes I still have to ask myself how I fucked up something that was so good.
But there are lessons in there and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned them well.
In the end I guess we were just too much alike to be anything but friends. So, although I loved her without measure and was so happy with her for the seven years we were together, I would not go on that date again just to prevent that thing from happening and so that we could still be the friends we used to be and I could run into her at the store and be happy to see her.