By Maddie M. White
I sat in the brown leather chair once more. When I had sat here three years ago, I swore I’d never be back. I was a completely different person then. I remember sitting on my couch watching my favorite show, and suddenly this commercial came on about a new local dating service. True Match guaranteed to find you your soulmate. If it didn’t work out, they wanted you to come back and do a sort of exit interview.
The same grey-haired woman I had met years before walked in and sat down at her desk in front of me. “I have to say, I’m surprised to see you here,” she said. I nodded because I was surprised too. “So, what happened?” she asked. I felt my insides crumble. I didn’t have anything bad to say. There wasn’t really a good answer to that question.
I thought back to our first date three years earlier. “Hi there!” A beautiful brunette woman stood in front of me in the park extending her hand. I can almost smell how the air had that first day of spring smell. I can hear her infectious laugh and see her crooked grin. I remember walking through the park and not being able to take my eyes off of her.
The first year with her was pure bliss. I spent every free moment I had with her. She talked about wanting to be an artist. She surprised me on our first anniversary with a painting of the park, with us sitting on the bench by the fountain. We decided to take a trip and drive up the coast to Maine. Hours of old-school playlists and talking about our future made the trip the most memorable. Every time I would get us lost, I’d curse under my breath and she’d laugh. Looking at her sleeping and seeing her bare feet on the dash, I knew that I’d never want to see anyone else in my passenger seat.
That Christmas we went to her parents’ home in Vermont. The snow was falling, the fire was burning, and her entire family was gathered in the living room opening presents. I knew that this was the moment. The last gift was handed out, and I watched as she ripped the paper away from the box. My heart swelled when I saw a gleam in her eye like a child opening their most wanted gift. She said yes, and we started planning our future.
I got a call one afternoon that April. I got the job I had been waiting for. I made a special dinner and sat candles on the table in our tiny apartment. I was bursting with excitement to tell her. “What’s all of this?” she asked as she sat her purse in the floor. “I got the job!” I said with arms open. “Baby! That’s amazing news!” she exclaimed and jumped into my arms.
The night of her first art exhibit, I was full of pride. She was glowing and everyone that walked by was enamored with her painting. A gentleman in a black suit strolled up to her and handed her a card. After the show I wrapped her in my arms and whispered in her ear: “I’m so proud of you.“ She showed me the man’s business card from earlier. He wanted to talk to her about selling her paintings. That night we went into the city and celebrated with a bottle of champagne.
Another year passed, and we were nearing up on the wedding. We sat at our table filling out invitations, and I remember thinking how adorable she looked with her tongue stuck out to the side as she tried to perfect her handwriting for each card. Suddenly, my phone buzzed, and I saw that it was work. “They offered me a promotion,” I said quietly and set the phone down after ending the call. “That’s amazing!! I’m so proud of you!“ She smiled. “They want me to cover a story in Europe. I have to leave right after we get married,” I said. “We’ll make it work. I’ll come with you,” she said and placed her hand on top of mine.
A week before the wedding she got a job offer across the country. It was her dream job. She told the man that she’d have to think about it. We didn’t talk about it much, she was distracted with last-minute wedding plans. We agreed to write each other letters to read the night before the wedding to keep each other calm. I don’t remember the exact words I used, but I remember the feeling I got when I read hers.
I hope you know just how much I do love you and cherish the time we spent together. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I’m taking the job and I think you should do the same. We are both far too talented not to. I hope you can forgive me one day. I didn’t know until I started writing this that my decision was to go. I’m so sorry.”
I looked up at the grey-haired lady who was waiting patiently.
“What’s the last question?” I asked. My heart ached after recounting the three most wonderful years of my life.
“Would you do it again?” she asked.
“Absolutely. I’d do it all over again. In a heartbeat,” I said and stood from the chair.