I Wish I Met You Later


Why we are so clueless about good spaghetti dinner.

[1844 words]

Editor’s note: I keep this post alive because it reminds me of how much people can change. You can’t truly believe you made it here unless you first acknowledge you started from there. Even if it does mean remembering your most delusional one-sided romance of your 20’s.

Hiii! My name is …

Such a novel way to start a conversation at a bar. Even more if it comes from a female voice to your blindside.

Approaching was always something I dreaded.

Like most inexperienced men trying to meet women, I sucked at cold approaches. Experience taught me to rely on what worked best for my timidness: Standing out from a crowd, locating good real estate, and hoping for someone else to make the move.

I rationalized to myself I’m a better initial responder. 

She had that innocence like your favorite kindergarten playmate. Except now nearly grown up and instead of taking your most precious toys she takes something better her age,

like you. 

I was just recently single from my first relationship. Born again single would be an understatement. Born again virgin, now that term did me proper justice. I was clueless on the opposite sex and how to really meet them. My first girlfriend chose me and made it easy.

Hiii! My name is …

I admit I made some ridiculous mistakes in the coming months and displayed some atrocious behavior, which always makes me wonder if I met her today would things be different.


A few psychologists would tell you spending a long time in isolation, loneliness, or deep introspectrum creates a void for a romantic interest. That void being filled by often the first person you’re attracted to when you get out. All those pent up feelings pour over to them and suddenly you’re in love. But really it’s not love, it’s just a halo effect that makes you extra sensitive to Cupid’s arrow until you heal up.

isolation, loneliness, or deep introspectrum 

Hell of a way to describe my first relationship, right? Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Yet I don’t think the theory wholly applies to me here in this situation.

Since meeting her I wanted to become a better man for myself, friends, family, and future wife. 

How many people can you honestly say that about them? Probably not many.

And I did become a better person. 

Some days I wake up and want to try again. Maybe it would be different. People change and possibly it’s a better time in her life. This date would be it.

It never is. 

That first night she asked to come over I convinced her to arm wrestle me because she was making a big deal about her “large” arms.

I absolutely crushed her.

As much as I dislike fishing for compliments, I really wanted to just touch her hand. We didn’t sleep together that night but that was never my initial intent with her.

She was better to get to know first.


Since then I did my best to learn what it took to become a person deserving of what I was born with. Like any other man, I often wish I could change the past. Regret could be said to fuel a million guys’ successes, it did for me.

Then I realized something and knew why maybe I needed to give up on her.

She was that one. The one that got away. 

Being spared the courting process by my first girlfriend meant I never liked anyone yet enough to make me want to re-write my life then have that person say “no.”

I learned I needed to say yes to her decision. 

Why? Accepting parts of yourself is the only way to know who you are. If you’re six feet tall, you better be acknowledging that or you’re going to have some serious identity issues down the road. Romantic humility doesn’t grant you a hall pass to avoid the bitter sweet truths about yourself. If you’re not being authentic then how can you expect anyone else to take you seriously?

Yes, she was someone important to me. And that’s genuine to how I feel.   

The first woman to make me begin to overcome my five hundred weaknesses to grow into a better man. Dogs are loyal and all but can’t change your life like this. Your best friends come close but at the end of the night you don’t want to be sharing the same bed with them (at least not every night, right?)

Sometimes I play out how it would be if we did actually date. 

A few psychologists will tell you humans suck at imagining our happiness in the future. The best trick I learned is to ask someone to imagine their next dinner being spaghetti. Then you ask “do you think it’ll taste good?” They always say yes. Then you ask them “But how can you be sure? What if the spaghetti was cold, there were meatballs, and the sauce was too spicy? And even more, you despise meatballs.” They always admit they never imagined all those details, rather they just auto-generated everything the question didn’t specifically ask them about. They simply assumed generic spaghetti dinner. And most nights generic spaghetti was great.

But how often is it just generic spaghetti dinner?


I kind of winged Valentine’s day. I knew a cool spot but they weren’t taking reservations when I called. I’ll show up early. I didn’t ask about any special dinner events. I’m sure it’ll be a normal menu. I knew it had a parking lot nearby you could pay for. I suck at parallel parking on the street when I’m nervous. Sounds perfect. 

I didn’t predict the parking lot took cash only. I didn’t predict I’d have to parallel park and embarrassingly stall my car. I didn’t predict that night’s dinner had a special five course meal that started hours before I got there. I didn’t predict I’d need a plan B. I didn’t expect plan B to be full, along with C-E. I didn’t expect plan F to be not even a place you mistakenly take a first dinner date to. I didn’t predict how I’d become so defeated with anxiety and the stupor of panic that I forgot to pay for the bill. I didn’t expect her to get real in my car and tell me just how disappointed she was with me because she chose me over a lot of guys that night.

Worse, I didn’t predict her disappointing night was right before taking a required proctored test to get into her top choice of college program.

I assumed the night was already a success because she said yes. I dreamed of generic spaghetti dinner. Reality handed me a shit serving of noodles with meat and no tomatoes.

I sit at night and think about what I thought my life would be like from one, two, three, and so on for the number of years back. I was always wrong. I could argue I’m still within a nearby projected trajectory but that’s bullshitting the both of us.

Actually I’m nowhere fucking close. But it’s unmistakably more fulfilling and remarkable from what I dreamed before.  

I now realize what I thought I’d want at one point always drastically changes down the line. I just needed to accept this woman could be one of those fantasies like choosing to quit your job while also, with much gratuity, having all your financial needs being met for the next year or two.

An incredible let down because of my childlike expectations. 

But that’s a different story.

I don’t mean she’s a let down but rather the dream if it became reality. I can say with great confidence if she doesn’t romantically like me now it wouldn’t be any better in a magical future in our magical relationship. That’s skipping the fine details for sake of delusional convenience. How could I passionately dream about something if I don’t even know how I’d feel about it? What if I did in fact hate meatballs? I needed to admit I’m losing myself in the lack of foresight, details, and proof.


The second thing she taught me was that she needed to be the first one I let go.

Respect her space, life, and requests. 

Those same psychologists who believe creating a personal void will eventually leak onto the first person who says hi to you don’t tell you about what happens if you hold onto that thing filling your now previous void.

Doesn’t that take up space for something…or someone…else? 

Longing for something else that isn’t there is no better than holding onto something here that really isn’t here, at least for you.


I see her every once in awhile when I’m out. I always buy her a drink (drinks, well she sometimes accepts those). We play the same bar games like kindergarten crushes, leaving it all on the playground. She never asks to come over like the first time we met. I’ll go home happy we played in the sandbox but never in my room. We’ll never arm wrestle again. If we ever did I’d make sure to let her win this time around.

We’re not really even friends now. Just acquaintances.    

That night meant a lot to me but seemed to not affect her as much as I would painstakingly believe. The loss of poker hand and hope was probably all in my head because she ended up doing great on that test and getting into the program. Did I mention it’s #1 in the nation? Perhaps after that night she realized we weren’t the right fit, which allowed her to put all her focus on school. Her void was free. That’s adolescent optimism. I can deal with that.

Nowadays I go to bed thinking about what was there: a unique person who influenced me for the better.

And the one that got away. 

But then again if you’ve read anything I’ve just written it’s that I’m usually wrong about many things in my life. Time can only tell. We aren’t as smart as we think.

So maybe I’m wrong about her. The story isn’t over. There’s a third act for sure. 

You there, reader I’m grateful for, can at least permit me a few nights out of the year to innocently dream like this. Silly reflection in a manner as childlike as the boy next door, where anything is possible under the right circumstances. Where the guy actually gets the girl.

And spaghetti dinner that night?

Goddamn splendid she’d say.


Maybe I’m in the wrong career and should take up the culinary arts. Surely it can’t be impossible to master the perfect spaghetti dinner. Rather, could it be I just need a new entree for life? Italy must have more than one trick up its sleeve when it comes to romantic cuisines.

Pizza. That can’t be that hard to fuck up.

Don’t you agree?