The Third – три

A glass of wine convinced me to find the loves of my past, which is something I’ve never done. Without much thought, I held my breath and plunged my head beneath the watery surface of the past.


The third one was probably the most difficult for me. I wanted nothing to do with him ever again and said so the last time we saw each other, several lifetimes ago. His page was locked down, so his public posts were old and few. Nonetheless, I scrolled. He’s married with kids. His wife’s smile could power a house for days. The few pictures strewn about showed an incredibly happy couple. I was pleased to see that big stupid grin of his, I knew it spoke of his genuine happiness.

Despite being the stereotypical family man from his musings on social media, he looks exactly the same as he did all those years ago, which surprised me. The lines around his eyes are a little deeper, but outside of that small detail, it would be difficult to tell if they were from the distant past or recent. Even his body hasn’t aged, he is still very much that tall lanky kid from the absolute worst city in Illinois. He’s in his late thirties now, but he might as well have been in his late teens. His handsomeness hasn’t changed either, those daring eyes like the sea were the same ones that I fell in love with when I was young and impetuous. I found myself smiling at his picture. Despite the destruction he wrought in my life, I’m glad he is happy. I hope he and his family found Jesus, too, that would be the real icing on the cake.

His kids, for lack of a better term, are cute. They have his facial expressions and the professional pictures of his family in a park looked like an advertising shoot to sell anything to middle America. I hope those pictures reflect his true story, and not just for the camera.

I didn’t recognize the company he works for, so I googled them and was still confused as to what he actually does. A mutual friend of ours had always been very close with him, and I didn’t know they were the combined family vacations type of close. I’m glad they’re still in touch and support each other.

I always hope I will run into him randomly in a restaurant in my travels, where I see him but he won’t see me. If I did, I would secretly pay for his meal, write an anonymous note referencing Final Fantasy VIII, and send over a round of lemon drops. It would be my calling card, a throwback to an era where chastity and sobriety went out the window because of him.

Maybe he’d know it was me. Maybe he wouldn’t. But it would make him smile.

The Second – два

A glass of wine convinced me to find the loves of my past, which is something I’ve never done. Without much thought, I held my breath and plunged my head beneath the watery surface of the past.


We stopped speaking to each other years ago. I’ll always wish our last exchange was mended, but he made it clear he did not want to maintain any semblance of friendship.

We dated for a year or so. As much as I was in love with him, perhaps in the deep recesses of my mind, I knew we were very different people who wanted very different things; married life would not have suited us.

I was living a few hours away when he called. We met up for dinner once a year to catch up, as we truly stayed friends after our romance ended. His work was having an event nearby and he wanted to know if he could crash at my apartment overnight. As a third shift worker, it was perfect: he had the apartment to himself all night while I was at work.

He came over and I got him set up on the couch. His stout athletic body had not changed from high school. He was a strong Christian, single, and I trusted him explicitly. It was comforting to enjoy his presence again. When I returned home after work, he had already folded all the blankets, showered, and eaten. He didn’t have to leave for another couple of hours, so we spent the morning chatting. With all my relationship baggage, here he was, shining the light of Christ on my world. His grounded stance and daily walks with the Lord dazzled me. He reminded me there were good men out there, as I kept forgetting.

And then, we kissed.

It was only kissing. Clothes stayed on, hands didn’t stray, and it was like I was in high school again.

And then he had to leave for his work event.

I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day. I knew it was just a kiss and there was nothing more to it. The beauty of him reminding me that all was not lost had a lasting effect on me. I can’t describe how much his visit soothed my aching spirit.

I got an email from him.

It was long. Very long. Oh no, I thought, thinking he wanted to restart our romantic bond.

But, as usual, I was wrong.

The entire letter consisted of him begging for my forgiveness. He felt that kissing me objectified me, as we kissed without context. He knew things could have gone much further than they did (I would never have let that happen, he was still a virgin) and that frightened him. I felt so deflated, that a kiss flung him into such a state. We kissed throughout high school, it wasn’t like this was new territory for us. I quickly typed out my reply, assuring him he had the opposite effect on me. I did not feel objectified in any way; I thoroughly enjoyed our kiss and that I would never let my passions – or his – allow us to do something we would regret. I emphasized how much his visit encouraged me. I sent his letter and my response to my friend, who was in seminary at the time, to get her take on them and she agreed he was overreacting.

And that was it. My subsequent emails were unanswered and we haven’t spoken since.

Nearly two decades have passed.

He wasn’t hard to find. He was the type that would still be in the same rural town, just like his ancestors. Interstates made him uncomfortable, as he preferred roads without lines.

Surprisingly, he had a social media page. He didn’t post often, but I did find pictures of his family. He has six kids – the oldest looks like they are in middle school, the youngest is an infant – and he lives in the middle of nowhere. Of course, I would expect nothing less. I would not be a bit surprised to find if he was a fundamentalist homeschooling Christian, but I couldn’t deduce that from what I found. His wife bears a striking resemblance to his mother, which I found a bit odd, but her homespun appearance still showed off her beauty. He aged quickly with a receding hairline and jowls. He looks much older than I do, even though I am older than him. He’s a large round man now, no longer the fit guy I remember. He’s not nearly as attractive as he was back in the day. His eyes still reflect the light and love of Christ and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an excellent husband, father, and pillar of his church.

I have this sinking feeling he’d avoid me if we ran into each other again.

I’d still want to hear his story, if he was willing.

The First – один

A glass of wine convinced me to find the loves of my past, which is something I’ve never done. Without much thought, I held my breath and plunged my head beneath the watery surface of the past.


I went to social media. He had a professionally leaning page without any pictures of him or anything personal. Typical of him, really. My genealogical sleuthing prepped me for this. I scanned another timeline. He was still a staunch Republican, as he had touted Republican talking points since I met him. Interactions were minimal, as most of his posts concerned his current field and a few about the randomness of life and depression, which I knew he suffered from. Based on some observances, I believe he was being treated for it pharmaceutically – and also possibly suffered from Crohn’s Disease – but in those days I didn’t have the balls to inquire.

His current girlfriend looks like a model and not a day over twenty-five, but I didn’t look beyond that. I was already down the rabbit hole, I was not about to get myself caught up in a mole tunnel as well.

I really wanted to find a current picture of him. I hadn’t seen him since his twenties and he was a forty-something now. My searches came up empty. I wondered if he was still at the same company. I would know, I helped him prepare for the interview. I’m the reason he dressed sharp and walked in calm, cool, and collected. They hired him on the spot. He was made for this sort of gig. And after watching him search fruitlessly for so long, I knew this line of work would be salve to his soul.

I found the company had a social media account and started scrolling. I found a picture where his name appeared. Bingo, he was still there. I kept scrolling until I hit pay dirt. A full body picture of him standing at an event came into view.

I paused.

In my mind, he was still twenty, but in this picture, he was clearly not. It was him, alright, no questioning that. The big smile, the bright eyes, and the jawline hadn’t changed. His face, neck, and chest all expanded, as it tends to do to men in their forties. I expected him to be more muscular, but he wasn’t. He was in good shape, with a tight chest, but time had taken away the sleek sinewy body he used to press against mine. He hadn’t grayed yet and his hairline hadn’t moved. It was him, just slightly older.

He was still gorgeous.

I looked to see when the picture was taken. I checked my calendar – and sure enough – I was in the same city the same day that picture was taken. How strange. Perhaps we passed each other and never knew.

The picture couldn’t tell me anything about his personality or how he acts now. His cultural exceptionalism bled into his personal views back in the day, and I wondered if he had become tempered with age or grew into a giant asshole. It could have gone either way. I wonder if he has children.

I’d love to meet him over a beer sometime to catch up and get to know him as he is now, but without divine intervention, it is a pipe dream. I’m not even sure he would remember me or could recall me without rolling his eyes.

But man, I’d love to know what he is like now.