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Dear Diary,

” … *Marcus was at the bar. He looked good, but it looks like he’s taken. My loss is always someone else’s gain …”

Dear *Marcus,

I wrote those words twenty years ago in my diary. On May 3, 1997.

When we saw each other on the upper balcony. Of that bar. When you came for a glass of water. Since you’d been dancing. Having fun.

Typical you.

That night, my friends dragged me out. I wasn’t in a bar-hopping mood.

You were wearing a blue button-up shirt. I think it was the same one from the night we met. And I smelled a hint of Drakkar Noir. I wore a baby blue button-up cropped shirt – tied at the waist – with a baby blue plaid skirt. I’d gained fifteen pounds since grad, but my girlfriends said I “carried it well” as Caramilk bars and Double Crunch BBQ chips dripped from my pores. Needless to say, I was a tad uncomfortable back then. Literally. Since the ties at my stomach bit into my tummy roll.

When you strolled up to me, I bugged you about the drink. Thinking it was alcohol.

“Thought you didn’t drink.”

You fluffed your shirt. “It’s water. I’ve been dancing.”

“Ah,” followed by awkward silence.

Luckily, my friend who had the crush on your twin brother was there. And she hugged you.And we know how the story ends. You walked down the stairs. You danced with the girl in the red dress. As I watched. And you continued with your happily ever after. Which you deserve.

But, what if? Just what if that night had a different ending?

Where I said, “Can we talk?”

And maybe you’d nod and say, “Yeah.”

That’s when I’d explain. The complete and utter truth. The real reason why I hurt you and shredded your heart. I apologized before, but you deserved the real reason – eighteen years earlier.

Maybe you’d understand. And maybe you’d say, “Let’s try again.”

“What about red-dress girl?”

“She’ll understand.”

And you and I would reconcile. And we’d have a fantastic, romantic courtship. Full of laughs, study-dates and date-dates. Where you’d teach me how to water ski. And I teach you how to skate. Really skate. And you’d propose in the most unique manner. Of course, I’d say “Yes.” And – after university – we’d have a massive Ukrainian Catholic wedding. And I wear a Cinderella-style Maggie Sottero wedding gown. Because I was marrying a Prince.

And our life together would be perfect. In hindsight.

Because in reality, that night we went our separate ways. And haven’t seen each other in person since. Though we have spoken.

Everything is perfect in hindsight. Where so-called mistakes can be recalled like an overturned goal. Where breakups can be avoided. Hearts can be unshredded.

However, living in the past doesn’t mean our present imperfect. We’re both happy with divided lives. To be fair, the fairytale is just a fairytale. It’s beautiful, but the odds weren’t in our favour at the time. It’s an impossible story concocted by a romance writer.

A broken hearted high school friend once told me, “You never get over someone you really loved. You just move on.”

They say when there’s something you want to say, just say it. And when I called you in the fall of 1998, I wanted to say something.

And I didn’t. I was trapped within the pages of The Notebook. Before it became a movie. But unlike Noah, I couldn’t say it. And I still can’t. Instead, my diary entry that night read, ” … Marcus and I talked about intelligent stuff instead.”

You were hard to get over, Marcus.

And I’m not sure I ever did.

But we’ll always have hindsight.

Always,

Tessa

********

*Name changed for privacy

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