Sunday, November 09, 2008


I woke up early this morning because I had a dream. In the dream, I was on the set of a movie that was shooting in the city I live. I don't remember what it was that I was doing for the filmmakers. I was important, but not in a way that would get me a lot of publicity - not even among the people working on the film. Still, I got to hang out with a few of the key people, most notably the star of the film. Who was, oddly enough, Michael Phelps. Yeah, the olympic swimmer. I guess in my subconscious, he can act, too.

Anyway, I'm sitting around the set doing something on my laptop and Michael stops by. We're just shooting the breeze, when he casually says:
Michael: Hey, do you know Angelu?

mjh: Who?

Michael: Angelu. She says she knows you.

mjh: I don't remember knowing anyone named Angelu. Who is she?

Michael: She works in the art department. She went to the same college as you.
Because, of course, Michael Phelps and I are such good buds, that he knows where I went to college.
Michael: Anyway, she says she dated you.

mjh: Is Angelu a nickname? Because I dated an art major in college named Annemarie.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, that's her. That's Angelu.
This news sent me into a tailspin. In college (in the real world) I dated Annemarie. We dated for 5 years. She was the first woman that I dated seriously for any amount of time. She was the first woman that I loved. And it was love - meaning that it wasn't just about me. It was about her well-being. But, unfortunately, it wasn't 100% selfless. And my selfishness resulted in my doing some dumb things. Really dumb things! Despite this, she stayed with me throughout college.

But when college was over, I had thoughts of marriage. She did not share these thoughts. In fact, she made it abundantly clear that it wasn't going to happen. I never officially proposed, but I broached the subject with her once. She said that she didn't know who she was. That she'd spent all of her life living in the shadow of her parents, only to come to college and meet me. Then she'd spent all of that time, seeing herself as a part of me. She didn't know who she was completely independent of anyone. And that's what she needed to go find out.

So I let go. It remains among the most difficult things I've ever done in my life.

I went off to get a job. She went off to grad school. We would call each other and chat from time to time. During one phone call she told me that she was seeing someone, and it was pretty serious. Up until that point, I had this thought in my head that I could swoop back in after she'd "found herself" and try to start over. But apparently she'd found herself and found someone else at the same time. I was devastated. Eventually, she told me that she was going to marry this guy. A few weeks after that, I made one more phone call to her. I told her that I would not be calling back, and I asked her not to call me.

A few years on from that, I realized that had I avoided the dumb things, the end might have turned out differently. And since that point, there has been exactly one thing that I wish that I could say to her. I want nothing more than to apologize, and ask her forgiveness. I want to tell her that even I realized how dumb I was, and that she was right to leave.

I tried to contact her once through a mutual friend. But Annemarie didn't want to talk to me. And ever since then, I've left it alone. I've never tried again to contact her, but I've always sort of hoped that I'd bump into her somewhere. Which is more likely than you'd think. When we left college, she went to one part of the country and I to a different part. I have since moved again to someplace new. Yet ironically, she lives only about an hour away from me. I only know this because during a few pathetic moments, I searched for her on the internet and found her. There were a few years there where she lived less then 30 minutes from me.

So back to the dream.

I stood up and walked away from Michael Phelps to go look for her. And I found her. She was sitting in a row of chairs in some back part of the set, chatting with a woman and bouncing a baby on her knee. I knew immediately that it was her child. Because that's the way that it works in dreams. She didn't see me, so I walked up to her and touched her arm. She turned to look at me.

This was my big moment. I could finally say to her what I've wanted to say for 16 years. But I didn't. I smiled and waved politely, and kept on walking. This is when I woke up.

I may never get to apologize to her. So here it is. Annemarie, if you ever read this, I'm sorry. I behaved atrociously. I hope you can forgive me. I fear, reading this, you may think that I haven't gotten over you. I have. I have a beautiful family and I'm happy. But I have this regret. That I hurt you. And for that, I am sorry. I hope, someday, to get your forgiveness.


Niffer said...

What a beautiful post!

It's interesting thinking about past relationships, isn't it? I can think of one in particular that will always have a soft spot in my heart. I know I hurt him a lot when I called things off. He felt certain that he had met "the one" and I was too caught up in his lack of education to really appreciate all the great things.

I hear from him occasionally. Originally he found my info by calling my mom. We would talk every 6 months or so, but it was almost always him calling me. He kept moving and was never at the number I had written down. Finally, the last time he called, it happened to be two nights before my wedding. I know that hurt him. And I doubt he gave me his correct number. I'm sure he's moved again since and I have no idea how to contact him. And I have no idea how he would contact me now (both my mom and I have different names than before). I find that I cling to the hope that he'll remember I told him my new last name is his first name, but I probably won't ever hear from him again.

I wish him well. I always think fondly of him and I feel bad for hurting him. No matter how happy I am with my current life, I will always look back at my time with him and wonder how he's doing.

mjh said...

You know what? I just realized that part of this is your fault!

Niffer said...

You're right. I'll take the blame for this. My bad.

I've had that song stuck in my head for quite some time now, too! It doesn't matter if it's a song I like, there still comes that point where I want to say "STOP!"

mjh said...

A real-world friend read this post and wondered if my wife knew that I'd posted it. I told him that I read it to her before I posted it. That seemed to create some relief in him.

So just to be explicit, there's nothing in this post that my wife doesn't know about. Since I met my wife, she has known about Annemarie and that it was a hard break up for me. My wife understands and is not threatened by it.


Niffer said...

That's good to know about your wife knowing... I never even questioned it and I wonder why because your real-life-friend (I'm a figment of your imagination) had a good point. You wouldn't want your wife to find something you posted and be upset about it. I guess I never considered it because I know how my relationship is with my husband and he, too, is ok with the stories I have about my ex's, whether they be good or bad. Actually, I think he's more ok with the good stories that spark fond memories for me than the bad ones. I guess he doesn't like the idea of anyone hurting me, even if it had to happen for the two of us to end up together.

mjh said...

Well, you *could* be a figment of someone's imagination. You do hear stories of people presenting fake personas on the internet. Me, for example, I pretend to be an intellectual.

But, of course, that's not what I meant when I said "real-world friend". What I meant was that I have friends in the real-world and friends in the virtual-world. And there's a significant difference between the two.

The people in the real-world know me better. They know my foibles. They know the mistakes that I can't edit out because they happen in real time. And the fact that they like me anyway means something. It means those relationships are qualitatively different than the virtual-world relationships.

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