I saw him for the first time at Duvic’s. It was Valentine’s Day, he was bartending; pouring several tequila shots.
I was out with a friend, doing what single girls do on a couple-y holiday: drinking.
What I didn’t know then was that the bartender that night would become a part of my life — good and bad — for years to come.
For four years, we dated off and on. At first, he blamed his lack of commitment on his last girlfriend. He said she slept with his best friend… and recorded it.
But later, he would tell me he was just “too busy” to seriously date me.
Although he never met my family, he introduced me to his. They were welcoming and I spent Christmas with them one year; he bought me jewelry.
That year, it felt so right. He’d finally committed to me, I felt like a part of his family, and I was in love.
It was his humor that drew me to him right away. Of course, I thought he was super cute, if you’re into that fratastic thing that Baton Rouge has going for it.
I imagined a future together — one in vivid detail — of us getting married, having children, and growing old still madly in love with each other.
But a job change sent him to New Orleans, and it didn’t take long before he stopped coming in town to visit me.
One night, I called him before bed, and he told me he was about to send me an email.
I knew he was going to dump me, but I told him to respect me enough not to do it in an email.
So, he came to my house the next day and gave me my house key. It was over.
He got engaged three months later to a girl in New Orleans. They’d been dating for years.
Earlier this year, they had their first child. It was news I saw on Facebook, after searching his name, as we’re not “Friends.”
The baby didn’t shock me. It seems like everyone I know gets married and immediately has children.
What hurt was that I truly believed this was a guy who had no interest in marriage, or in having kids. But the truth was, he just didn’t want those things with me.
The morning after my 30th birthday earlier this month, he sent me a message on Google chat.
I hadn’t talked to him in years.
He wanted to know how I was, how was work, and if I was considering moving to New Orleans. According to him, I would “love it.”
I told him I had to get going, and he told me he always loved our chats. He mentioned meeting up, but failed to mention his wife or his son.
The more I thought about our brief conversation, the more I realized how disgusting it all was.
For years, I’d convinced myself that this was the guy for me. In my head, I knew he cheated on me, lied to me, and treated me terribly.
But my heart held onto the very few good moments we’d shared, and it shielded me from all the bad he did.
I can finally see he wasn’t “the one that got away,” he was the one that showed me exactly what I’m not missing.