I had caught up with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in weeks. I told her how I had met someone over the past month and had the most amazing time. Crazy chemistry, instant connection. Sparks flying everywhere.
“Do you think you’d see him again?”
“Nah.” I said, smiling like a silly bunny.
“And why are you grinning like that?!?” she was dumbfounded.
“You’re atypical,” my friend continued. “Other girls would have been sad, or wondered in despair ‘what if?’. Rachel, what if he was the one that got away–would you still be smiling about it?’
Never did it cross my mind to think about despairs of loss. When he boarded his plane, I was sincerely thankful we met by chance and spent good time with tons of great memories. To me, that’s all that mattered. Why stress? Rather than despair on why it didn’t happen–why not just relish the fact that it did? No stressing on what-ifs, or could-have-beens. I believe heartbreak only happens due to failed expectations. I was so happy to have made an impact on someone’s life, as he had with me–no matter how short-lived.
When you were younger, you somehow thought there’s plenty of fish in the sea. There’s tons of people you can meet and connect with. But then, as you grow up, you realize that special connection happens only a few times in your life–often, unexpectedly.
As I grow older, I realize that not every person is meant to stay with you forever–and that’s perfectly fine. Sure, some can be permanent fixtures of your life, while others are only temporary–but that doesn’t mean they were less important. Even for a very short time they were with you, they had purpose for your chance encounter: maybe to remind you of your purpose, your life’s meaning, or to just give a little nudge to the right direction, or maybe to change you for the better.
I think chance encounters are beautiful even if they were fleeting. At that short time, he had affected me in a positive way, and vice versa. And that’s the great part of it: you will be immortalized in their memories, painted in a romantic way–always youthful, perfect and serene.
“That girl, she was amazing,” is probably what he would have thought, 50 years into the future, when he is in a rocking chair in some nursing home, reliving his younger days.
My 70-something-year-old professor and mentor told me: “You know, memories are funny things. Many things in my past with certain people–I know I will forget details, dates, names–and even faces–but I will never forget how they made me feel.”
That is why certain transients (e.g. one-time guest appearances) in your life will stick with you for the rest of your life–because your encounter made them feel alive again.
But what happens if we actually ended up with ‘the one that got away’?
Linklater’s Jesse said it perfectly: ‘I guarantee you, it’s better that way (not ending up together). They probably would have disappointed you eventually.’ Sooner or later it will unfold…
Because fleeting love is not real love. It doesn’t involve real jobs, paying rent, rebellious adolescents, college funds or aging wrinkles.
I sigh in relief because I don’t have anymore chance to mess up or disappoint him anymore. My brain is like: “Lucky you! You didn’t get the chance to disappoint him with your absent-mindedness, lack of humility, domestic ineptness, or your inability to ride a bike! Good job!”
‘The one that got away’ is like a vampire. He or she will be forever beautiful and youthful, forever frozen in memory of the wistful to the time when you made them feel most alive.
Memories lie, and they give the infatuated the illusion that you were perfect.
And frankly, I’m perfectly okay with those false illusions.