Today, while working in my living room, on a project that’s been plaguing me since April of last year; I had to refer to a document written by a company I worked for about 12 years ago. There on page 2 was the name of a woman I once thought of as my nemesis because she, She had HIM.
I was fresh out of college at that job, still living in my tiny college apartment, and by tiny I mean by comparison, an efficiency would have been palatial. The whole space – max, was probably 10’ x 12’ BUT it was on a horse farm, and it was cheap, and my dog was welcome there.
He was the very good friend of my assigned mentor. They used to smoke Marlboro reds on the front steps of the building, cracking jokes, telling hunting stories, talking to everyone and sometimes about them, as they came in the laboratory doors. They were always together, so I got to know him. He made me laugh a lot, and one day he paid me the most amazing compliment I had every received up to that point in my life. I was speechless and instantly, totally and utterly infatuated.
I used to hang out at the company softball games just to be near him, to listen to his accent, his laugh. I used to imagine him watching me as I walked over to the security area to use the bathroom. I was never sure if he did, but I hoped.
It’s weird, because I remember those things, but I can’t tell you how it happened the first time. The first time we crossed the line, the first time we made plans to see each other outside of work or work-social environments. But we did. And we ended up together, and it was amazing, and fun, and dizzying, and so, unbelievably wrong.
I know it lasted quite awhile, because I moved into my condo while we were still seeing each other. I was crazy, crazy, crazy, mad, wild, sick for him.
I remember one day, being with him in the late afternoon, talking in my bedroom, and he was just sitting there, on the edge of my bed, smoking.
And just like that, I knew.
As clearly as if he had taped a banner to my bedroom wall.
He was going to leave her. And their kid.
I walked him out to his truck that day. Said goodbye, waved to him in the mirror, and then sat on the steps in front of my building and sobbed.
I called in sick for the next two days, didn’t answer the phone, didn’t answer my door.
I ended it the very next time I saw him. I told him the biggest lie I could think of.
The truth was I couldn’t be that girl. The one he left for, and oh I wanted to be. So badly. I wanted to be wanted that much. I wanted to be enough for him to give up so much.
He quit his job about a week later, said he couldn’t see me every day. That it was too hard. I quietly hoped he’d leave her for an embarrassingly long time after. I hoped he’d be there one day, at my door, in my parking lot, somewhere, someday.
I saw him one more time, just one of those things – in the parking lot at the fair. He ran back to his truck to get something and ran into me in the parking lot. He came over to me and told me he still drove by my place, hoping to catch me outside, not to talk to me - just to see me walking the dog or getting the mail. He made me cry, just a little. I don’t remember saying anything. I remember feeling raw and angry. I knew I had done the right thing, finally, but I also knew that at that moment, I was wishing I hadn’t. Or that he hadn’t.
Staring at that document today, her name was still his name. I remembered all of this in the time it took to read the paragraph of results I was looking for, then, I looked them up. Same addresses, same phone numbers.
He never made it back to Kentucky.
I still don’t know, after all these years, why I did it, or why I ran from it just when it became clear I was going to get what I thought I wanted. I don’t know if he told her, or she found out, or if she knew all along.
I don’t know why I needed such a grand, dramatic, heart-rending gesture to feel like I was ‘enough’ and I definitely don't know how long it will take me to feel like saying I’m sorry is ‘enough’.