Gratitude for the ones who got away

Incredibly embarrassing update below

Dan* and I met through my work-study job in college. My commitment to ten hours of weekly clerical work in the Registrar’s Office was the subject of much mirth among the full-timers and more reliable student works.

It was a 50/50 proposition if I would actually show up for my designated hours, they joked. “But I always call!” I would counter. Whether it was due to classwork, hangovers, my need for a nap or simply something more interesting arising, I called in with a lot of excuses.

For whatever reason, they tolerated me.

Dan appeared on one of the days late in my freshman year when I happened to show up. His mother was one of the bosses and when visiting from his own university, he would come to the office to help out. Dan was a volleyball-playing, ROTC-committed stud of a man. When he smiled, his eyes reminded me of Patrick Swayze (!). Tall and fit, solid, sturdy and friendly, I was immediately drawn to him.

Suck it Dan

If his mother didn’t like my silly, flighty, unreliable eighteen year old self, she hated me when I started hooking up with her son. Often under her own roof.

[My bad. I get it now.]

If I recall correctly, I pursued Dan. We and I had A Thing. I don’t recall how long it went on, but during the summer before my sophomore year, Dan and his brother came to my hometown and together we all went to Lollapalooza. Dan’s brother slept in the guest room, and Dan in my room; my mother made me sleep downstairs on the couch and I was FURIOUS. To get her back, I joined him in my childhood bedroom while she ran errands and Dad mowed the lawn.

My college went back to school before Dan’s so when sophomore year started, I was thrilled to see a lot of him (yes, a lot) for a week or so. But when it was time for him to depart, I was crushed. I remember crying on that last night at my sorority house and feeling like life would never be the same.

I visited Dan at his school not long after, but the moment had passed. It was clear he had moved on and wasn’t eager to keep things going. I spent a sad night alone in his dorm room while he went to a party and stayed out late. We were done.

I moped a little and moved on–simultaneously, not sequentially. My university’s population skewed male and I took advantage.

*Not his real name. Obviously!

Much later, I wondered what had become of Dan. Did he make a career with the Army? Had he been deployed? Was he safe? Was he still hot? Was he, dare I ask, single?

Thanks to Facebook, I know the answers. In order: Yes, several times, yes, absolutely, and no.

Dan is happy and alive and successful, with a wife and kids he loves. We swap messages about life via Facebook. Totally appropriate messages, I’ll add.

He once said “I don’t even remember why we stopped hanging out” before apologizing for probably being a jerk. Isn’t it great when someone offers that up unprompted?

Dan married the right woman for him. I can’t imagine living the life they have: moves to various bases and postings around the country, long separations for deployments and fear of never seeing each other again. Sacrifices. Lots of them. I’m grateful for Dan’s service and perhaps strangely, for his wife loving and supporting him. He deserves it.

In case you’re wondering what prompted me to write about that time of my life, it was this XOJane post by my Twitter friend @heyescapist aka Kate. Unlike me, Kate had to face the questions of military life head-on. And she had to make a hard choice. It’s a good read and surprisingly, even the comments were kind last time I looked.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like had things gone differently with Dan. I might have kids, but not have my career. Perhaps I’d feel differently about the name changing business. Would I have the same political beliefs? There’s no way to know.

I don’t regret the way my life is, but I do wonder. Ultimately I’m just grateful for all of the people who have come (and sometimes gone) through my life and left their mark.

I’m updating this post to tell you that I completely misremembered how I met Dan. Yep, Brian Williams and I now have something in common.

This is so embarrassing on several levels. Beyond misremembering, wait until you hear what a brazen hussy I was.

From Dan:

We actually met at a Rush after party while I was on winter break. I hung out for one of their [fraternity where I had friends] rush parties before my school started class.

Then you completely called me out of the blue at school to ask me to a formal.

You guys. I tracked Dan down, called him and asked him to a formal. He said yes, but COME ON. Aren’t you mortified by my pre-Google stalking of the poor guy on top of my huge memory failure?

Clearly I block out every memory that makes me look insane. The end.


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