These are the kinds of names I think of whenever I’m feeling that good ol’ still-single weltschmerz. In another universe, it could have worked with any of 'em. At least for longer than it did.
No particular order; all the names (but one) are real.
Melissa (I) – Okay, she doesn’t really count; we actually did date for six months. But everyone has that one, formative break-up that you never forget, the one that teaches you that sometimes, and for no good reason, relationships just…fall apart. The one that hurts more than anything else. She was mine. I saw her over Christmas; she seems really happy.
Ginny – Friend of a friend. Crashed at her place once in Eugene; that’s the first time I ever heard Dead Can Dance. It’s because of her that I write my letter Gs like I do. We picked blackberries by some railroad tracks. I bought the new Barenaked Ladies album Maybe You Should Drive; she’d never heard of them.
Melissa (II) – Met her during my second go-round in college; she was in my theater department. I asked her out. She said yes. We never went; she postponed and postponed until it dissipated. I suspected at the time that her best friend liked me far more than she did, and she didn’t want to hurt her friend’s feelings. But I dunno. Maybe she just wasn’t that into me.
Jessica – College again. Went out a couple times; it didn’t take. Then we became great friends. And slept together, almost twice. And became friends again. …Then she turned into a lycanthrope. Crazy mean. But she could be really nice when she wanted to be. I remember reading her a children’s book. The Silver Crown, that was it.
Katherine – My high school crush. Well, one of them. She was a hippie chick and I was a total nerd, and other than theater we ran in completely different circles. We went camping once. I never even asked her out; she was in a serious relationship the whole time I knew her. I dunno why she’s the one I remember.
Marie-Joelle – First year of law school. Unspeakably hot. I met her at a friend’s birthday dinner; our first conversation was about game theory. She gave me her number. We went to see my friend in a play, and left at intermission to hang out in my room, and man oh man I should have kissed her. I should have. I had the chance. She told me so on the phone an hour after she left. But she was casually seeing someone at the time, and I figured I’d have another opportunity if we continued to sizzle together. But things changed after that; she stopped giving me the right signals. We went to a dance together, and I met her mom (who loved me), but she lost interest. And I never got that kiss.
Robin – Another instance of my becoming great friends with a beautiful girl who didn’t return any romantic feelings I may have had…or didn’t return them enough to do anything about it. For a few months at college she and I were nearly inseparable. We hung out all the time; I had dinner with her family; we talked about everything. For a while we were de facto dating, except for, y’know, any of the romantic stuff. And it never quite took that next step, and then I left the theater department and we drifted apart.
Kate (I) – Met her at a conference in Charleston. She wanted me to give her a backrub. I, um, should have said yes.
Meredith – Fall 2004. She and I clicked like no one I’ve ever met. We could talk for hours about nothing at all. Incredibly similar interests as well. And chemistry…the first five times we went out, the date lasted until the next morning. (We fooled around, but never went all the way; I’ve always kinda regretted that.) But she was in a different place in her life than I was, and didn’t regard me as a serious long-term prospect. And I was over-eager. And she had other issues. So she ultimately blew me off. Just…said she was really busy and stopped e-mailing and calling. That one still stings a bit.
Becky – Met her when I was visiting a friend in Ashland during my two-year hiatus between schools. Clicked. Nothing ever happened, although we stayed up all night talking in her dorm room bed once. Then I went back home, and wrote her a bunch because she said she enjoyed getting mail. Nothing sappy; just random letters about random things. She wrote back once. I may have come on too strong.
Laura – From my first college. Not much to say here; she was really cute and lived down the hall from me. We got into a spontaneous wrestling match once, and bonded over (I think) Anne of Green Gables. I think she was dating someone. Then I was definitely dating someone. Then I flunked out and never saw her again.
Kate (II) – We get along incredibly well. Her boyfriend’s not going anywhere, so I don’t give it serious consideration. Nice to imagine, though.
Jen – Met her playing darts last October. She’d just passed the bar. Had had a little to drink. Was so, so pretty. We flirted a lot, even though she was there with a couple guys and at least one of them seemed to have a proprietary interest in her. She finessed me into offering to see Firefly with her, and accepted, and gave me her number. And kissed me on the cheek when the bar closed and we all went our separate ways. I think I called her too soon, or she sobered up, or she really was with one of those guys. In any case, I left a message and never heard back. An exhilarating night, and one I can take on its own merits. Still, I’d love to have spent more time with her.
Nora – Met her randomly when I was in Portland for a job interview during law school. Well, I met her randomly online, and when I discovered I was going to be in Portland we decided to get together. We had a really enjoyable dinner at the restaurant at my hotel – three hours of interesting conversation and good wine. And she was gorgeous. Pixie-ish. And very bright and funny. (I just googled her…I don’t remember her being an actress. Huh.) Anyway, she liked me, but didn’t find me as attractive as I found her; based on a couple e-mails she sent after the fact, I think she’d feel differently today. She was cool. Would’ve been fun if the evening had resulted in more than a chaste kiss.
Heather – Lived down the hall from me first year of law school. I was dating someone first semester; she was dating someone second semester. I think there was something there, but the timing wasn’t right.
Katya – She was a high school friend of my freshman-year roommate, and we randomly struck up a snail-mail correspondence despite never having met. I visited her in Pittsburgh for a few days the fall of my sophomore year. Nothing happened between us, but that was a weird enough weekend that we fell out of touch. I was damn immature back then.
Jane – Knew her in school, and during the month or so that we were simultaneously single I never thought I had a chance. Beautiful, intelligent, interesting. We became much better friends after graduation, and I found out from her way after the fact (after she’d been in a serious relationship for a couple years) that she’d been interested in me back then. One of those things that’s nice to know and yet makes you really wanna kick yourself. I can even pinpoint a moment – a party, a conversation – where I could have asked her out. But it never even occurred to me. Things could easily be very different now if it had.
Megan – Compelling. Infuriating. The most recent object of my observation that there are few things more poignant than coming across e-mails or letters or whatever from someone who was romantically interested at the time but isn’t any more. It’s kinda cruel that we can lose that thread so easily.
Anyway, anyone else got names like this to share? I hadn’t thought about some of these folk in this detail in a long, long time.