Thursday, August 17, 2006

about the one who got away

source: the manila times
by: mark j. macapagal

in your life, you'll make note of a lot of people. ones with whom you shared something special, ones who will always mean something. there's the one you first kissed, the one you first loved, the one you lost your virginity to, the one you put on a pedestal, the one you're with... and the one that got away.

who is the one that got away? i guess it's that person with who everything was great, everything was perfect, but the timing was just wrong. there was no fault in the person, there was no flaw in the chemistry, but the cards just didn't fall the right way, i suppose. i believe in the fact that ending up with someone, finding a longtime partner that is, does not lie merely in the other person. i can actually argue that an equal part, or maybe even the greater part, has to do with the matter of timing. it has to do with you being ready to settle down and commit to someone in a way that goes beyond the little niceties of giddy romance. how often have you gone through it without even realizing it? when you're not ready to commit in that mature manner, it doesn't matter who you're with, it just doesn't work. small problems become big; inconsequentials become deal breakers simply because you're not ready and it shows. it's not that you and the person you're with are no good; it’s just that it's not yet right, and little things become the flashpoint of that fact...

then one day you're ready. you really are. and when this happens you'll be ready to settle down with someone. he or she may not be the most perfect, they might not be the brightest star of romance to ever have burned in your life, but it'll work because you're ready. it'll work because it's the right time and you'll make it work. and it'll make sense, it really that day comes when you're finally making sense of things, and you find yourself to be a different person. things are different, your approach is different, you finally understand who you are and what you want, and you've become ready because the time has truly arrived. and mind you, there's no telling when this day will come. hopefully you're single but you could be in a long-term relationship, you could be married with three kids, it doesn't matter. all you know is that you've changed, and for some reason, the one that got away, is the first person you think about.

you'll think about them because you'll wonder, "what if they were here today?" you'll wonder, "what if we were together now, with me as i am and not as i was?" that's what the one that got away is, the biggest "what if?" you'll have in your life. if you're married, you'll just have to accept the fact that the one that got away, got away. believe me, no matter how fairy tale you think your marriage is, this can happen to the best of us.

but hopefully you're mature enough to realize that you're already with the one you're with and this is just another test of your commitment, one that will just strengthen your marriage when you get past it. sure, you'll think about him/her every so often, but it's alright. it's never nice to live with a "might have been," but it happens... maybe the one that got away is the one who's already married. in which case it's the same thing. you just have to accept and know that your memories of that person will probably bring a nice little smile to your lips in the future when you're old and gray and reminiscing. but if neither of that is the case, then it's different. what do you do if it's not yet too late? simple... find him, find her. because the very existence of a "one that got away" means that you'll always wonder, what if you got that one? ask him out to coffee, ask her out to a movie, it doesn't matter if you've dropped in from out of nowhere. you'd be surprised, you just might be "the one that got away" as well for the person who is your "the one that got away." you might drop in from out of nowhere and it won't make a difference. if the timing is finally right, it'll all just fall into place somehow and you know, i'm thinking, it would be a great feeling, in the end, to be able to say to someone, "hey you, you're the one that almost got away."

i met a girl in grade school. her face was the most beautiful face i have ever seen. her hair, black as the night sky, swayed gracefully as she walked in campus. from the moment i saw her i knew i liked her. i was seven, puppy love, they said. the kind that easily fades away.

we were in grade one when i first wrote her a letter. and in that same year i stole a kiss. she was my first kiss. i was her first kiss too. up to now the memory of that kiss lingers vividly in my mind. years passed, i still wrote her letters and she answered some of it. it was enough for me. i knew it was unrequited love, sad, but at the same time i was contented that i loved her. in high school i met other girls and everytime i thought that was the end of the puppy love i had. but whenever a flame ended i kept coming back to her. i found solitude in loving her.

on our senior year, the unexpected happened. she learned to love me too; it was no longer unrequited love. i was the happiest man alive when i learned about it. but there was one glitch, she was committed to another. it's ok, i told myself. i courted her but after sometime i felt guilty. it was unfair. i pitied the other guy, i thought i wouldn't want my girl to be snatched by another. so i made a decision, i stopped. and this is one decision i will regret for the rest of my life. one of the biggest mistakes i have ever made. it wasn't unfair, it is never unfair. all is fair in love and war, the cliche says.

we parted ways after graduation. i went to college and i was welcomed into a bigger world but but we still communicated from time to time. i had a couple of relationships but none lasted for more than a few months. for most of the time i was single and there were times that i still thought about her. sometimes i think that maybe i'm just holding onto a 'dead star'. maybe i no longer love her. or maybe i still love her. then one day i received a forwarded email, an essay entitled the one that got away. and within the same week i received an email from her. coincidence? the first thing that came into my mind was the quote from paulo coehlo's novel, the alchemist, "when you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it." i thought the universe was already conspiring to give me the girl i loved the most.

she was inviting me to go out for coffee so we could talk. she said they were planning to get married in a year or two but before that she wanted to settle whatever unfinished business we had. she wanted to get rid of "what if's" running in her head. i was elated at the thought that she was entertaining what if questions about us.

we met and talked over coffee. i gave her my long due explanation as to why i suddenly stopped courting her. and how i regret making that fatal decision. she told me she loved me then and there was a time they broke up but i didn't knew about it. now she's getting married. i said before she decide let me ask her one question. one question, and if she answered yes i will leave them in peace forever.

"are you one-hundred percent sure that you really want to marry him?"

the question made her uneasy, i felt like there was still a little chance for an "us." but she said they've been together for eight years and she wouldn't want a third party to be the reason if ever they don't end up together so she told me to just leave them be. if we were meant for each other then we will be together. let destiny take its course. i said i respect her decision but i'm sending her an email entitled the one that got away. maybe it was some sort of a desperation move. the following day she sent an email:

grabe, sakto yun ha, tamang-tama ang mga nakasulat.. bakit ganon, akala ko after natin mag-usap kagabi masasabi kong wala na talaga, yung bang we could never be lovers at all, bago ako nakipag-usap sau sigurado ko sa feelings ko, mahal ko si ***, but after our talk, sigurado pa rin naman ako na mahal ko sya but i suddenly felt confused..why?.. the answer is that i really don't know.. mas lalo naging complicated lalo nung tinanong mo ko kung sure na ba ako.. ayokong maging unfair sknya, bigla ko tuloy naisip, sana hindi na tayo nag-usap, sana hinyaan ko na lang, bahala na panahon ang makapagsabi.. alam mo ba yung song na may lyrics na, "we have right love at the wrong time", ganon tayo..

we have the right love at the wrong time.

in one of them forwarded emails they say that there's only one person whom you will love the most, at any given point in your life, and that person may not be the one you will spend the rest of your life with. you may have met him/her a few years earlier, or way way earlier, than the time you were ready to settle down. you may even have met him/her in between some people you also loved, but not as much.

very few people are lucky enough to have found both in one person, the one they love the most and the one they'll spend the rest of their lives with.

in my case i found the girl whom i loved the most seventeen years ago and as young as i may have been at that time, i knew i could never fall in love again with as much intensity, as much passion, with the way i felt at that time. and i felt that way for a very long time.

as the years passed we have lost and re-established communication, we have been into relationships with other people, but all the while i was believing that we were destined for each other. i lived in the illusion that we will have our own and-they-lived-happily-ever-after ending. i lived in a dream that we will spend the rest of our lives together. heck, even my parents were rooting for us.

last month, my mom told me that the girl is getting married to her boyfriend for eight years, in a few months time.

i was saddened by the news but at the same time i felt happy for her. i imagine her walking down the aisle wearing her best smile (and that is a very beautiful smile), her groom eagerly waiting for her. i could have been that lucky man. but i will be glad with the thought that she will be exchanging i do's with a man whom i believe has loved her more than anyone ever did. maybe much much more than i did. but not as long, that i can boldly claim.

i will be happy to remain as one of her friends, i guess it's the next best thing. i wish them a happy married life. for the meantime, i will wait for the one i will spend the rest of my life with..

to the one that got away, i offer you this quote from tinkerbell in the movie, hook:

you know the place between you know you're asleep and awake? the time when you can still remember what you were dreaming? that's where i will always love you."