One That Got Away
What if we took that leap of faith? We could be living in our very own fairy tale.
I still catch myself thinking about you. I make guesses about what you could possibly be doing given how well I knew your schedule. I wonder if you received the promotion you worked so hard for. I wonder if your parents are doing okay, and if your new partner is treating you right.
It’s been well over a year since we parted ways at the gates of the departure hall at Perth International Airport. All those arguments and sleepless nights led up to that moment—the last time we’d ever get to see each other.
You wore a navy blue coat with black buttons that ran through the middle; I’ve always liked that coat, it complements your shoulders. I noticed how clean the coat was, you must’ve used the lint roller—something you’d only do on special occasions.
I grasped firmly onto my red passport, heart racing, not knowing what to do or what to say. You stood in front of me, shoulders slouched, defeated. Our eyes were fixated on each other but no one said a word. With one last hug and a stalled kiss, you watched as I walked through the departure door.
Sure, we still check on each other occasionally with obligatory greetings over New Year’s Eve or Christmas, and most recently my birthday. Our exchanges are always in an awkwardly reserved manner for two souls who once shared a history.
Our conversations are brief, as if we’re on a race against time. You’d tell me you’re doing well and drown the conversation with smiley face emoticons, but you were always good at putting on a facade. It makes me wonder if you were overcompensating for something. Or if your happiness was contrary to the number of emoticons you used in a span of five minutes.
The Good Ol’ Days
I still remember you took us on adventures, places I had never been to—we explored the suburbs, piers and beaches. You held no reservations showing off your city to the keen-eyed, international student I was.
We developed routines the way couples do; one which involved late night drives to KFC. You’d instinctively order a large popcorn chicken because you loved the way I devoured them like a starved 12 year-old.
It didn’t take long for you to take me home to meet your parents. In fact, I suspected you were looking forward to it. I was a nervous wreck, and you loved me for that. I remember smoothing the creases on my shirt and adjusting my jeans; prepping myself one last time before stepping into the house, as if one less crease would make your parents more fond of me.
You were ashamed of your past. Despite so, you fought against the odds you assumed weren’t in your favour. Unbeknownst to yourself, it unraveled a part of you you never thought was there—a gentle giant who found his muse. No one would’ve guessed that the bully back in high school, infamous for his playboy tendencies, had a hopeless romantic side to him.
Being a 21st century Giacomo Casanova, you made girls swoon when they saw how far you’d go to make me happy. Despite how exhausted you were from a day’s work, you’d deliver Pad-thai from our favourite Thai restaurant to my doorstep. And for no apparent reason, we’d get chocolate high-tea for dinner at Koko Black—“you deserve it,” you said.
You made such drastic changes to the way you dealt with relationships that your family and friends could hardly believe the person you had become. You were once a juvenile boy who approached relationships in a lacklustre manner. But you made me feel like I was all you wanted, all you needed; that on some mornings, I was your motivation to get out of bed.
You became the kind of guy who’d plan an Easter egg hunt at your backyard because I had never experienced one before, then take photos of me hop around in your oversized t-shirt. You’d take us on scenic drives, because you knew how much I loved the salty breeze in my hair; while my eyes were set on the view, yours were on me.
Who could forget breakfast-in-bed every Sunday? Your alarm clock would be set at 6am for rowing training. You’d return, slightly exhausted from the physical demands, then whip up breakfast for us. Scrambled eggs (an extra poached egg for me, because you spoil me), bacon and wholemeal toast—all while I’m tucked in your bed under the soft duvet.
It would only be fitting for this love story to take a tragic turn. Read: An Open Letter to The One That Got Away. This is where things headed straight for the downward spiral, and I claim full responsibility for it.
I let myself take you for granted, and in the process, lost respect for you. I tore apart your sanguine nature and got used to receiving while you did all the giving. We got into numerous fights—ones so petty I can’t recall what they were about. It was always you being the problem solver who tried to fix things, only to be confronted with my contemptuous behaviour.
I’m sorry for the monotonous one-liners I gave in response to your heartfelt declarations of love. I’m sorry for telling you I didn’t want to see you just days before you were bound for Singapore to visit my parents and I.
I’m sorry for starting a massive fight at our road trip to Busselton. I did so just because I thought I could. Your intentions were pure, as always, wanting nothing more but to show me a good time—you always planned the best getaways.
You did everything you could, and more. I was selfish and wholly undeserving of you.
I knew what ruined our relationship. We both did. I could’ve been more supportive of your decisions, more grateful for the little things. I could’ve expressed my unwavering affection for you, taken steps to show you I wanted this as much as you did; except I didn’t.
You had the biggest of hearts and forgave me. You longed to give it another shot—“I know how sorry you are and won’t let history repeat itself. Let’s get it right this time.” And so did I. I wanted to make things right, treat you the way you deserved to be treated, but I was too afraid of making the same mistakes.
Time To Let Go
Sometimes we have to do what is right, not what is easy. As much as we yearned for each other, we knew we had to call things off. We fell too hard too soon, it felt like it was us against the world. That unpragmatic way of thinking doesn’t sustain relationships, and it certainly didn’t preserve ours.
Perhaps we aren’t The One for each other, but are stepping stones that would lead us to them. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason. In this instance, we’d learn from our mistakes and grow from them. You’d continue giving knowing you deserve to receive just as much; while I’d learn to appreciate and not take anyone for granted.
Thank you for embracing my unhealthy obsession with scented candles, and assuring me my craft-making skills are top notch (they aren’t). For giving me the fluffy pillows, while you settled for the flat, uncomfortable ones.
Thank you for being my pillar of strength, my best friend and confidant. Thank you for showering me with your unconditional love. You are entitled to nothing but the best, and I hope you’ve found her.