Monday, July 19, 2010

Missed Opportunities

"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break." ~William Hale White

"Opportunity is often difficult to recognize; we usually expect it to beckon us with beepers and billboards." ~William Arthur Ward

I remember when I was seventeen; I would go to the Law Library every night religious to study with my pals. We were sort of like the cool kids during the day and the sneaking nerds at night. The Library was freezing, assumingly to protect the old books, so every hour we would have to take a break on the outside and take a smoke. Yes, to maintain our cool image we had to smoke, it was a tough life. One night, an unknown beauty joined us at the smoking table. Her father was East Indian, and her mother was a mix of West Indian and British I came to find out. The word gorgeous did not do Marsha justice. When she came over she bummed a cigarette and I was of course obliged to share, two minutes later her boyfriend came over.
As the weeks passed by, they became regulars at our table, first she would come and he would run to find her. She would always take the spot next to me, we all had spots. Oddly enough her boyfriend would always stand, as if impatient. She would always do odd things, rest her head on my shoulder pretending to be tired or conveniently forget her cigarettes and have to share mine. Back then I would say that I was a little daft when it came to women, I was carefree, I didn't care to read into women's feelings. Summer rolled in and her boyfriend went off on vacation and left her behind. I got a job at my best friend's father's company. Dan and I were childhood friends and had the same passions beautiful women, surfing, cars and electronics. Being the boss's son, we really didn't do much, but we had our own office and company car for the day. We were site supervisors and spent our days going from construction site to construction site.
It was 9 am Monday morning, Dan and I were doing our usual, feet up in the air, drinking coffee and reminiscing about our fun packed weekend. There was a soft tap on the door, and guess who entered? Marsha! Apparently she was going to be working in one of the offices upstairs for the summer. Marsha and her boyfriend were apparently very tight, so to me she was just a cute girl to hang out with. "So what are you fellas up to?” Dan blurted out "Oh DV (Devil's Advocate) and I were just discussing how cute he thought you were and how he was going to ask you out." With an embarrassing smile I blurted out, "Dude what the fuck? He just kidding, we were just talking about the weekend." Then there was that awkward moment which seemed like forever, thank god Dan's father walked in. Marsha said her goodbye, and I kicked Dan on the shin. The next day, Dan had a dental appointment and I was forced to go out for lunch alone. As I exited the office, Marsha was coming down the stairs.
"Hey neighbor, where is your partner in crime?"
"He had a doctor's appointment, so I am going to grab some lunch, where you heading?"
"Lunch...” again that awkward pause.
"Well, I'm heading down to Pier 19, you want to join me?"
Pier 19 was one of the restaurants that Dan and I were allowed to sign to the Company's account. It was a quaint restaurant, little pricey, but had the best wine and seafood, and Dan's father owned it. We both had turned eighteen over the summer and were legal to drink which we took full advantage at every opportunity.
"Sure, is this a date?"
"A date, ha! you want my boyfriend to put a contract on my head?", she smiled and we headed out.
We had a lovely lunch, for the rest of the summer Marsha hung with us and the rest of our crew. We all did the usually summer things, surf, drink, party, drink, no pressure because she was just one of the girls. The summer was almost at an end and Marsha's boyfriend was back in town from his vacation. It was Friday night and it was Drive-In night. This was the place to see and to be seen, the group of guys that had the best-looking girls hanging by their car won. This was not a place to watch movies; this was a place to be watched. Our crew was strong, we knew almost everyone, and we also have the best car stereo and were hence a natural magnet. Marsha had not hung out with us for a while, assumingly because of her boyfriend. That night she approached me and said: "Hey, can I talk to you alone for a minute?"...Awkward pause...
"Oh you mean alone, ok" We stepped away from the crowd.
"What's up? We haven't seen you for awhile, where's your boyfriend?"
"You are such a flirt!" I started to smile, thinking she was joking, but she wasn't. She was very serious, and her eyes were watering up.
"Marsha..." I stepped towards her to put my hands on her shoulder, she moved away. "What's going on? What do you mean I'm a flirt?"
"Do you like me or not?"
"Of course I like you, don't you have a boyfriend? You guys are almost married, I just assumed we were cool."
"Well it sure as hell seemed like you were my boyfriend all summer!" It's then I saw the tears. Just then, her boyfriend came over, "What's going on here, Marsha why are you crying?" Marsha responded, "We were just talking about our friend that died last week." There was a kid that had died the previous week, we knew him but he wasn't a friend. Good call Marsha; guess it would be harder to explain to your boyfriend that you were in love with the guy standing in front of him. Marsha and her boyfriend stood across from me for the rest of the night. When he wasn't looking, Marsha would stare directly in my eyes and shake her head. At the end of the night, Dan hit me on the shoulder and said, "Dude, you know you fucked up on that big time?"
"How did I fuck up, she's all over her BF!"
"For the whole summer man, whenever you walked away, she could stop talking about you."
"Well how the hell was I supposed to know? You should have told me man!"
"You should have known, whenever she walked away you did the same!"
And he was right, I had ignored all the signs, I had convinced myself that I had not fallen for her. All the times I had come out water surfing and she had my towel laid out for me, and my water bottle ready. All the times that she would ensure to ride shotgun with me when I was driving. The "Hey, I picked up and extra coffee for you" Every morning, the offers to drive when I didn't want to drive, the cute "Let's take a picture together". It was all there, missed opportunities. Marsha and I still keep in touch to this day. Five years ago she gave birth to a son. A week later she emailed a picture of him and a caption that read, "I named him Thomas, isn't he adorable?” She had given him my middle name, a name that she had always called me instead of my first name. I can only think at this point, what could have been? They say that it's no use crying over spilt milk, but I think we both shed some tears.
Devils Advocate

"Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the one you miss." ~Author Unknown

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." ~Thomas Edison

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