The One That Got Away

It was a summer day. There was a light breeze and the sky had a color so sharp, it could cut glass. You were wearing a colorful summer dress in a floral pattern. It heralded the warmth and everything living around us. The soft wind danced with your hair — as though it didn’t want to escape it. Everything wanted to be close to you. As did I. Then autumn came. And the idea of “we” deteriorated like the leaves on the trees. 

This is how I remembered her. The one that got away. My selective consciousness has dismissed all the bad memories of her. Disregarded all of her flaws. In my memory, she was perfect. In my most secret dreams, her flaws haunted me.

Most of us have one; the one that got away. Chances are, you do as well. Chances are, you are in a loving relationship but sometimes, after a fight or in moments, when she’s cuddling in your armpit and your mind happens to wander, an intrusive thought barges in like a burglar, forcing you to imagine what might have been; it might last for seconds but it tickles. It’s a day-dream. It’s natural. Nothing to be ashamed of. That is, if you still long for her — if you didn’t settle for the one by your side.

How do we deal with this void? Because it is a void. Everything that has abruptly ended without closure, creates a void. Do you start to date? Do you indulge in casual sex? Do you drown your sorrows away, in a desperate attempt to flush out the pain, only to have it resurface like a sledge-hammer with your next hangover? Your memory will also fool you. It will fabricate an image of her so perfect that it will haunt you, torment you, make you yearn to crawl back for her.
If you drown yourself in the glossy images of your memory, you will never let it go. And you must let it go.

I’ve attempted to date multiple women at the same time — even married ones. I’ve attempted to drown my sorrows in booze. I’ve tried to fuck the memory away. In the heat of the moment, it’s a rush. My body takes over and my mind is buried in a sensation of sexual numbness. But when it’s over, you realize you haven’t moved on. Not even remotely.

So what do you do from here? Here’s what. You change your scenery. You book a ticket. Maybe some place far away. The one condition is, the scenery has to be so different, it will not remind you of her. Then, you walk aimlessly. Yes, you’ve seen it in the movies: The character walks aimlessly in the streets in a state of pitiful despair, mourning his loss. You have to mourn. You dwell. Dig deep. Question everything. Remember her flaws – focus on them. If you shift the focus to her perfume, then remember that a lot of women smell very nice. Whatever you do, stop being nostalgic. Nostalgia is a filter that creates a different past. What you remember isn’t what happened. It’s your mind creating what you, in the heat of the moment, think what happened. And that memory, that emotional snapshot, is dominated by your current emotional state. Which is, let’s face it, unstable at best.

The process here is grief. What you in fact are doing is reliving all the stages of mourning a loved one. Only the difference is, you are mourning the loss of the idea of what you and her might have had. And, after a considerable amount of time, you’ll experience a calm within in yourself you haven’t experienced before. And that calm, that inner calm, is what turns a man into a rock. The rock that other women want to find, explore, lean on to…

… and suddenly, before you know it, you’ll find someone who will not get away. At least, not until another autumn.