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a letter to what could have been

What is it with people and lost opportunities? Why do we analyze and agonize over what could have been? Why is it so hard to stop looking back and wondering? The phenomenon is everywhere you look. People’s regret about preventing a relationship from reaching its potential is plastered on the cover of magazines from Cosmopolitan “Why you can’t keep men!” to Men’s Health “Moving past the one who got away!” It’s in the lines of Ask Abby type columns, and obviously all over the pages of the missed connections section of Craigslist.

Yet, even as I wonder about this aspect of the human experience, I myself am guilty of such tender feelings of nostalgia. So I present to the readers of Thought Catalog, my unsent love letter to someone I’ll never see again.

I still think about you sometimes…

I remember your arms wrapped around me as I sat with my friends. I remember the feeling of your head over my shoulder as we hugged. You’re the same height as me, so every embrace: chest to chest, waist to waist, feet touching, ear to ear, with your arms around my neck and my arms on your waist; sheer perfection. A hug is a simple platonic demonstration of affection, yet it can be so powerful. I remember laying on the ground on a peaceful Sunday with my head in your lap. I recall the wrestling matches, the play fighting, and the piggy back rides. The back rubs that at once tickled and soothed me.

The memories of you leaning back against me in the bleachers still wash over me occasionally. Those washboard abs! Ohhh, and your dimples, your dimples!

The feeling that I could touch you whenever, wherever, and you the same; I miss that freedom.
But it wasn’t only physical. You taught me so much about a way of life so different from mine. Our conversations and debates were a learning experience as much as they were entertaining. You were so interesting to me! The way you thought, the way you spoke, even the way you related to others.

However, I originally went after you because of the qualities we had in common. Do you remember that first awkward conversation, where we spoke for hours it seemed about nothing really? And it just developed from there. A few days later, you had to tell me something related to that one thing I brought up. And then I had to tell you that joke I heard that reminded me of your story. Next thing you know, we were practically best friends. Everyone teased that there was something more going on between us. Was there?

We didn’t, we couldn’t, pursue anything in the environment in which we met. Would something have happened if we met elsewhere? I don’t know, and I never will. We often speculated about whether we’d have been friends, lovers, or strangers in the “real world.” Or, whether our friendship was based on the circumstances rather than a natural connection. Did we just long for conversation and human touch so badly that we took advantage of the nearest willing person? It was such a different world there, it’s impossible to know.

While there are many things I’m unsure of, this I know: I cared for and still care for you. You were there for me. We had so many good times. So, why worry about what could have been? What was, is good enough.

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