This had to be a dream, too good to be true, surely something this special doesn’t happen to girls like me? But as the twilight air blew the hair from my face and swept across my skin, I knew it was real. And so, with a smile, I embraced him for our parting farewell.
Hindsight is a crazy thing. When I think back to that moment, that night, I should have realised its significance. Those afterthoughts that prey on my mind now are the ones I should have had then, instead of the percussive humdrum that beat through my head like a nagging mother relaying a list of errands: “Oh God, it’s late. It’s going to take so long to get home. Man, I’m tired. I hope the car park charge isn’t something ridiculous.”
I regret it every day.
After watching a film called, “When We First Met”, which follows the ever-pining Noah, who only wishes he could have changed the night he first met the girl of his dreams, Avery, and instead of residing in the friend-zone; be the man she loves. Unbeknown to him though, he’s about to be given a second chance. After inadvertently stumbling upon a photo-booth that enables him to travel back in time to that very night, he vows to change the outcome of the hapless onlooker he has now become. So that this time around, it’s him that she’s engaged to – and not that darned, good-looking, Mr Perfect, Ethan!
It reminded me of that night. The one where I hugged him goodbye and watched him walk away, the one where I was already thinking about my car, getting home and whether or not the cats would be hungry. I should have eaten dinner. I shouldn’t be driving on a bellyful of booze. How carefree, how rebellious! How…unwise. But what was more unwise was saying nothing; acting like I didn’t care. “Because emotions are sooo 2009.” But I did care. I really did. And now, I’m Noah, wondering what could have been with the Avery I met that night if I’d just said something more than goodbye. Sure, my situation was different, but the principle is the same – I was a bloody idiot.
Most people say that you have to move fast these days, much like a car joining the speeding traffic on the motorway, you’ve got to mirror, signal, manoeuvre – or in people terms, see it, say it, do it. However, I’m more like one of those grannies trying to join the road; watching all of the cars pass by whilst I wait at the junction, missing every gap there is because of my hesitance to join, then a growing impatience gets the better of me and I pull out just as a car is hurtling towards me at 80mph – it’s going to end in disaster.
I’m just…too slow.
But what would you do if you had a photo-booth that could change things? A bit like one of those retro games where you could choose the ending by going through a different door, would you do the same with a moment in your life? I sometimes wonder where things would be now if I’d done things differently. Would I be happier? Would I have closure? Or would I instead have a new list of terrifying regrets or obstacles to face?
Because, I suppose, everything happens for a reason.
There are many moments we look back on with regret, but maybe we shouldn’t? After all, we don’t have the ability to change the past. However, we do have the ability to make damn sure we learn from our mistakes and do it better when the opportunity should arise again. Because it will, with someone or something else. And when it does, I’m not going to sit diffidently like that granny in the car, nor am I going to be 3 steps ahead of the here and now. No. Next time, I’m going to be intrepid of me and my heart’s desires. I’m going to seize the moment and enjoy the time I have. Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll look back on what I did and be proud that I didn’t let fear falter my emotions for once.
So, if you’re like me and have made one too many faux pas over the years, I hope that this Valentine’s Day will give you that second chance a time machine just can’t replicate.
Go for it. There’s no time like the present.