Sunday, March 06, 2005

The One(s) That Got Away

Last night, I read a comment from a blog, Chicana On The Edge. She was wanting to know who read her and why. One guy commented, "You may not remember me, but we dated for 8 months like 13 years ago. Every so often I google my ex-girlfriends (doesn't everybody?) , and you turned up one day." And someone I work with made the comment that she had looked up information on some of her ex's once in a while as well. Thanks to the comment, this had me thinking of the ones that got away; the ones that I screwed up.

So this leads me to look up one ex from my days back at Arizona State. Now this one I really fucked up; fucked up horribly. It was a matter of a past desire leading me to drop the good future that was beginning to happen. This all started when I worked at a test prep center while in undergrad. You know the type of places where you go to improve your chances of getting into a mediocre grad school because those who will go to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT don't need the classes ... hell, they teach the classes. Back to the story, there were a ton of people in the place and I was getting paid basically to proctor tests, tutor some MCAT students on the reading portion of their test, and just answer phones. Not a bad gig, wore shorts everyday to work, got paid decent, and was inside all day in the A/C (a big plus in AZ).

The past desire I alluded to was EC. She was a super cute, super smart grad student who was visiting/researching at ASU from a very prestigious engineering school. Anyways, she started working with me and I just kinda always felt like it would never happen, so I slipped comfortably into the friend role. You know what I'm talking about here; she calls on Saturday while I'm hungover at the front desk and starts off the conversation as "I'm such an ass. Guess what I did last night?" We'd go to movies together, do some drinking with my friends, and just hang out from time to time.

So into the center comes RO. Now, RO was a cutie as well, closer to my age (RO I think was a year older than I; EC was about 4 years younger), and just as accomplished as EC in her own right. Turns out she has some very influential contacts in the Hispanic business community, had written for a couple of newspapers plus some national magazines, and was connected with some well known Hispanic politicians. RO was going to take the GRE and hit grad school for a PhD. Now God knows what possessed me, but RO would get very friendly towards me and I being the idiot that I am assumed "ah, she wants to be my pal, like another EC". So I offer to set RO up with my friend SV. I introduce them and naturally, they hit it off.

Still, there was a tension between RO and myself, but not a bad tension. When the center closed, she would wait so I would walk her to her car and I'd always ask how her and SV were doing. The answer always seemed invariably to be "oh ... he's great", but not with the enthusiasm I'd expect. Some nights, we'd end up sitting outside and talking for an hour or two after the center closed. I even told her about how much I used to dig EC. However, one night in particular should've been a clue as to how much we were into each other. A group of us from the center decided to go across the street to this mexican restaurant/bar after closing. We all carried on until it was only RO and I left. I walk her back to her car and she asks what I was going to do later since I had mentioned I was supposed to be somewhere in about 15 minutes (I was going to meet the guys for even more drinking). The 4 or 5 Coronas I had to that point were kicking in because I distinctly remember joking that we should just have sex in her car's backseat. She laughed and said "OK." You could've cut the sexual tension with a knife at that point. Too bad she was still seeing SV at this point.

Fast forward to a camping trip a few weeks later. We get about 15 people and hit the "Bullpen" out near Sedona. RO and EC were invited but neither came. So that night, SV is hammered and starts to mention RO and that as cool as she is, she is a bit too old and that I should've dated her all along. I take this with a grain of salt, since SV is too drunk to fish at this point. Anyways, once we get back, SV and RO pretty much decide to "see other people" or give the relationship a break. RO and I still talk, still flirt like crazy, still have those moments out in the parking lot where you feel butterflies in your stomach imagining what might happen.

About a month after the last time SV and RO see one another, I get a call from RO on my way to class. She is sick and asks if I could do her a favor; grab her some soup, cold medicine, and kleenex after class. I grab the stuff and go by her apartment. Her roommate is gone for the week and for being sick, RO looked phenomenal in her lounging clothes. I end up spending the rest of the day there and if she weren't sick, we would've been kissing like crazy, not that other things didn't happen (see my Purity Rating below). So we're at that awkward "we want each other but there is someone else to deal with" stage. We're in a sort of "no man's land" where we're both seeing other people, but we're having the best time together. She even mentions that there is nothing to keep her in Phoenix (sudden I know but this has been building for a good 3 or 4 months, so it doesn't shock me; in fact, I really like it).

Enter EC and one of her usual "I cooked way too much so come by after work" weeknights. This happened all the time and she'd have either one of the guys from the school lab or myself stop in. I'm on my way to a study session with another friend and decide to stop off for some grub. EC is a little tipsy and has a cold six pack of beer in the fridge for me. Being in undergrad and in the spirit of Arizona State, I start drinking. We even go grab another 6 and she downs a bottle of Chianti. I'm in no shape to drive and she says just crash out there. Now being a good girl, she offers me her bedroom as she starts to get ready for bed. I assume I'll be in the room by myself and start to fall asleep. Well, she crawls into bed with me, the fireworks start, and I realize that old desire is still alive and well. Now I'm really fucked because of the RO situation. I know deep inside things with EC will never work (her last b/f was a Wall Street investment banker who was loaded from work and family and she isn't really over him) and she can't wait to move back home to NYC.

I have to come clean with RO and I do. She is disappointed and says she needs time. I still hung out with EC,but it wasn't the same. I probe RO to see if we can salvage things, but she decides to move on. So I respect her wishes, don't put up a fight, and let it go. She still sent me an email here and there while I was in law school and she'd even come hang out whenever I'd hit Phoenix on vacation. But she seemed to drop off the face of the earth once she met her new beau and moved with him to Albuquerque.

So last night, I do the Google thing. I had looked up EC before and ironically, she ended up working in New Mexico as well and hasn't made it back to NYC yet. As for RO, it looks like she is still in Albuquerque and I assume with her beau and her new baby (her last email was a family pic of her, the beau, and the baby). I can't help but wonder "what if" with RO. I really fucked it up by letting something in the past that I had wanted interfere with what I could have had. Maybe it was that whole thing where I knew I couldn't be with EC in the long run and we always want what we can't have. I definitely learned a lesson, but I dont' know if I'll get another shot with someone as great as RO again. I know it's not the best idea to dwell on "what could've been", but we all do it. It's human nature, and I needed to get it out of my system.

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