A letter to the woman I adored but was afraid to be with
fell for you immediately at college. You were beautiful, effervescent and nice to me. Even if you had been single (you weren’t), I stood no chance, being a gangly, unappealing and late-blooming adolescent.
At best, you found me amusing and we were friends.
As college drew to a close, I was distraught that our friendship didn’t exist beyond that setting. While others itched for graduation, to me those days were a countdown to the last time I’d see you. I thought of little else, and even wrote a song – the only one I’d ever write. I still play it occasionally and find it painful. The lyrics read like an extract from a diary I never kept: a recount of how sad I felt.
We both left college and by chance, took jobs with the same company, so the parting didn’t happen. Mostly, we still got on well, but I found myself overcome with jealousy on company nights out when you chatted with other men. I got drunk many times and contrived an argument, which was unfair. I suspect by then you knew why I behaved that way, but you didn’t want to embarrass me by broaching it.
Eventually we each moved on and the separation I had dreaded at college occurred. For several months, I was heartbroken, although by then we had solidified a friendship that went beyond work and still occasionally saw each other. Seeing you less often eventually translated into thinking about you less often, and our friendship was healthier for it.
Then, in our late 20s and nearly a decade after I’d originally fallen for you, we unexpectedly shared a drunken kiss. Having spent so long considering you miles beyond my league, I was taken aback. I had grown into myself during my 20s, but in my head had never re-evaluated the implausibility of “us”.
I was stunned again when you soberly and plainly told me that you would love us to explore a relationship. So we went out a few times and had fun. On paper this was dream fulfilment for me, but something wasn’t right. After each date I was uncommunicative and hesitant to arrange the next one. When you asked for an explanation, I shocked us both by saying that I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship. I know that this caused you a lot of confusion and pain. Worst of all, it destroyed our friendship.
It’s now seven years since we last met. I’m in my late 30s and married, and you are in a relationship too. I love my wife and wouldn’t change my life, but I still can’t help thinking about you often. I care about you so much, but we aren’t in one another’s lives any more and that kills me. If you were in my life, I would try to give you the real explanation that you deserved but never received. Simply, I was a coward. I was embarrassingly immature in my 20s, terrified of a committed relationship, even if it was with the woman I had adored all my adult life.
I would also tell you that you were – and are – amazing. I know that you have a family now and I genuinely hope you are happy. I’m so sorry that I treated you badly and that I allowed my own insecurities to keep us apart. I hope you found someone braver and more deserving of you.