A Big Regret

So I met him in 1996. I was almost done grad school when a friend of my roommate and I decided one night that we wanted to move 4500km across the country. We went on campus of the local university and hoped to find cheap housing. I moved into his fraternity house on the girl’s floor. He was everything a girl could want. Hot and boyish at the same time, with my exact sense of humour. We made attempts to outwit each other all the time, (and truthfully, he did win most times).

He took me to see Carmina Burana where we would get un-like-college-kids-dressed-up. He would sit on my bed for hours and write out little poems into this mini coil notebook I had sitting there. I was looking thru mementos in my closet when I was preparing to sell my house last spring, and I came across the notebook that S would sketch the symbol for his band into over and over while sitting there. He paid for my futon and cleaned up my rug after I threw up vegetable soup. We dressed up for Halloween and I could feel the flirtation there, but neither of us did anything.

New Years Eve 1996. I had just come back from visiting family back home, there had been a historically heavy snowfall in Vancouver just the day before, and no one was around. We took a bus onto West Broadway to some random pub, had a couple drinks, and at midnight, started kissing. On the bus, kissing. Waiting for a coffee, kissing.

And he was so damn sweet.

Nothing beyond a lot of kissing went on, and a few weeks later, a very flirtatious guy asking for advice on muffins walks in to the Second Cup at UBC where I worked part time. I loved that job! All the students and profs, drs, etc, the best times in my life for real. C and I started hanging out at the gym, his Architecture grad office, and celebrated Robbie Burns day with his profs at the pub. We went to a basketball game. He had this fantastic, um, swing in his living room. Every time I hear Mazzy Star’s ’Fade Into You’, I can see his dimples and remember the feel of his shoulders.

Anything I did, even if it was an event that S was going to be at, I would invite C. Once, my room mate, S, and I were eating dinner somewhere on campus, and in walks C. I will never forget the look of disappointment that flashed across S’s face…

In fact, the next morning, taped to my windshield was a page out of a magazine, with a ramble on about: Green is just green and all these other analogies that I really wish I could remember right now, and, gee, wonder who the hell could have taped that there?

My roommate was gone one night, at her boyfriend’s, and I invited S to spend the night. He slept beside me, so respectful, never tried to go beyond friendship even though I knew he wanted to, and I know I wouldn’t have discouraged a kiss. But come morning, neither of us had made a move.

Shortly thereafter, I moved onto W 13th, and meet D. I pretty much stop seeing C since I was never on campus anymore, but he didn’t seem to mind, because ‘breaking up isn’t even tragic anymore, it’s inevitable.’
It was the fall of 1997. I moved into the apartment by Kits Beach, had a new job. S had purchased tickets for us to go to a concert together and at the last minute I had wimped out and said I had a headache. So he took another girl and they came back arm-in-arm, pretty much in a relationship.

I went home for a quick visit in early 1998, and realized I missed my family really badly. A few months later, a friend of mine flew one-way out West, we crammed my car full, and almost 2 years to the day that I had arrived there, saying goodbye to many good friends and cherished memories made, drove that 4500km back across the country.

Fast forward to 2007 and when I find my first 10 friends on Facebook. At this point, my son was 4 and I had just separated from his father. I found S’s profile and realized he was back in Ontario! He had been busy the past 10 years working very hard at his education and now had a very impressive career. The kinda stuff that was there the entire time I knew him, when he wrote me little poems, gave me black roses and totally stopped everything he was doing and kissed me when we were all out at the pub and ’Close To Me’ came on, because he knew I had requested it for him.

I just didn’t reciprocate all of the sweetness he radiated towards me. The little gestures. The time he forgave me for lighting the little piece of paper on the dinner plate on fire on Halloween and the fire alarm going off. It’s not like I realized it was going to cause that much smoke.

So I was crushed when I messaged him on FB and tried to get together for a coffee, drinks, dinner, anything, and his response was ’you didn’t have time for me ten years ago, why should I have time for you now?’. There aren’t many times when I don’t have words, but I didn’t know WHAT to say. He was right. Things had changed. Surely I didn’t think I could just suggest forgetting the the time gone by like it was no big deal and he would run to me, arms open wide??

He is high up in a prominently-known organization now, so I’m sure there is some way I could find an email somehow to contact him again. I have looked at the pictures of me that show a woman half my current age with S’s arm around my shoulders, and we both have our eyebrows raised in this ’ya, so?’ kind of expression, wondering if it’s better to just listen to Our Lady Peace and The Cure on repeat and tell myself ‘that ship has sailed, girl’!

One thing for sure is, Shawn, I still think about you all the time. I wonder if you ever started your band, Adrift. Do you still write poetry into coil notebooks? Get that witty smirk in the corners of your lips when you know you’re right? I will never know. And I regret not giving myself the chance to know.

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