There are two T-shirts that I wear that automatically let me know if I'm speaking to a 20-something or not. One is a shirt that has Dylan McKay on it (an original Beverly Hills, 90210 role that was played by the late Luke Perry). Another is a shirt that says, "I'm Just a Whitley in Search of My Dwayne". Whenever I'm sportin' either of those, it's pretty common for folks under 32 or so to ask me what my shirts mean. Wow. How time flies.
I thought about my second shirt when I sat down to do my Wednesday night ritual recently; one that consists of watching Queen Sugar. My props to you, Cree Summer (who used to play Freddie Brooks on A Different World, alongside "Dwayne" and "Whitley"). I'm aware of your quirky hippie role on a 90s sitcom, your comedic parts in other shows, and your voice-over resume (which is so impressive that one video takes a entire hour just to get through it all!); however, I don't recall seeing you in something that showcases your acting chops via the more dramatic side. But listen, as Nova's former professor (and lover) Octavia Laurent, you (clap) did (clap, clap) that.
Maybe it's due to my past pattern of not realizing that I have an opportunist in my path, oftentimes until it's too late, but I could sniff your agenda from the very moment you stood up to ask Nova a question at one of her tour stops. You had "get something from you" energy all over your tailored suit. But clearly, there was something in Nova that felt like you were the one who got away (at least on some level), so she took you with her on some of her other tour dates. Sometimes our nostalgia—especially emotionally and sexually—will have us longing for something and/or someone that we really should leave as a past memory. I think that's why I think I surprised my own self when I heard a loud "HMPH" come up from my belly when Nova finally said in your last scene together, "This is a sad day. I suspected but now I know. I've outgrown you." Whew.
Outgrowing someone you love, or at least once loved. That is such a heavy and complex topic that I'll have to circle back around to it another time (trust me, I will, though). But for now, when those words, that declaration, came out of Nova's mouth like the brightest light bulb moment, my mind went to the man who used to hold that title in my own world.
I'll be the first to admit that if there is one thing that I used to have a real knack for, it was picking fruit before it was ripe—you know, choosing the right man at the wrong time. Is that even possible? Oh, trust me…it is.
Sometimes someone can have all of the right qualities, but they need more time alone to mature and evolve. It is literally like eating a watermelon or a peach before it ripens; it has everything within it to be very good; it's just not fully ready…yet.
And when it came to "him", when he told me that he loved me, desired me and couldn't really see past me when it came to what he needed to do for his future (which was a part of the problem, to tell you the truth), and so he had to let me go, at least for now, because I couldn't think of one thing about him that I didn't want in a man, lover or spouse, he earned the title that so many of us have given to at least one guy—the one who got away.
Hmph. He actually held that title for about 15 years too.
That is until I got the nerve to look him up and give him a call. To this day, he's got one of the most impacting and masculine voices that I ever heard (lawd). After an eight-hour-straight convo, while I still totally understood just how and why he earned the "got away" position in my life, as he started to share with me what the past several years had been like for him, we didn't really seem to complement each other as much as we used to. His spiritual views couldn't be more different than my own. His perspective on relationships was a bit Twilight Zone-ish for me. While once upon a time, we would talk about our goals, dreams and even values without any hesitation or reservation, I found myself thinking, "Don't even get into it" in direct response to some of the things that he said. Don't get me wrong now, I'm pretty sure that the sex would've been better than ever (le sigh), but beyond the memories and the dormant passion, I'm not sure what else we would have…now.
Once we reconnected, we stayed in touch for a couple of months or so. He was just that fine, a part of my heart missed him just that much and the walks down memory lane were so sentimental that I think when it came to the phrase "the one who got away", I was so focused on "the one" that I didn't give as much credence to "away". In the midst of all of my romanticizing, I had to accept the reality that the time apart gave us both the space to become, who we were now. What catching up did was reveal to us both that while there would probably always been an uncanny connection and a bona fide chemistry, we didn't complement one another anymore.
He didn't "get away". He was simply gone. Because he needed to be. Even all those years ago.
That last part? That is why I'm sharing all of this with you. Because I know that at least 70 percent of the women reading this article have given some man the "you're the one who got away" title and position in their own life, and because I know that doing that can prevent you from fully giving your all to someone else, if you feel like there is some man who got away, ask yourself why is that. Is it based on some solid evidence that you have in your present life or a handful of memories from your past?
And if you believe it so wholeheartedly that, even you have to admit that you are a little emotionally stunted, maybe you should do what I did and look him up. If he's married or not interested, he's not the one who got away; he's the who needed to be let go. If he's interested in reconnecting, he won't be casual about it; if he clearly communicates that the last time he lost you, he'll make sure that he won't let that happen again. In fact, if that's the case, you probably would've heard from him first (some of y'all will catch that later).
But more than anything, be open to the possibility that the one who got away, got away because both of you needed him to. You didn't let him escape so much as the Universe removed him from your path because, had he remained, you wouldn't be quite the woman you are now and he wouldn't be quite the man he is now—both of you, being what you need to be, for someone else.
My friend, what life is revealing to me, more and more, with every passing day, is what is meant for us is presented to us. The love of our life is not exempt from this fact. Love doesn't "get away". At the right place and time, it comes boldly, clearly and eternally towards us, determined to never let us get away from it.
So, as someone who used to use the title, I get why you would too. Yet I hope my own experience will cause you to rethink still putting that kind of energy into the atmosphere. When it comes to the true "love of your life" and "meant to be", unless he comes and you push him away (which is also another message for another time), "the one" and "got away" don't exactly go together. The one doesn't do that. Love—and both of your life paths—won't let him.
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