I got a small kick in the pants today. Way back in the olden days, well over 25 years ago, I was head over heels in love with a girl I thought I was going to marry. We met in high school. She was beautiful, smart, and had a finely honed and acid wit. We spent much of our time hiking and doing outdoorsy things. I taught her how to ski. On our long walks, we talked about the future, where we would live, the things we would do—the things that young lovers throughout time immemorial do.

After nearly six years, she left me for another guy–older, more money, more successful–I was having troubles, trying to sort out what I was going to do, switching majors, while she was in her first year of veterinary school, far away in a strange city. Eventually I straightened my shit out, and her relationship with the other guy foundered on the rocks. We met up a few times afterward, but nothing ever came of it, and I was already in a new committed relationship.

But she was my first real girlfriend, and, you know, there’s always a special place in your heart for your first. The one that really, really turned you on–the one you got to know, and who knew you well. The one you spent all your time with, and shared your dreams of the future with. The one that you were young with. The one you thought was the one.

Her sister happens to be married to one of my best friends from college, so I’d heard about what she was doing–even visited her parents a few times on holidays. Her mom always liked me, and I liked her. I think she was sad when her daughter left me. Her dad was pretty much a dick most of the time, but not just to me–he was a generally miserable person. So, through my friend and visits with her mom, I heard snippets of their lives but drifted away over the years.

This morning I had a strange compulsion to look her up online. I have no idea why–other than this time of year frequently reminds me of her–but I hadn’t thought about her for at least two years. I did a quick name search on her and the first thing that popped up was a video “get to meet the Vet” introduction on her clinic’s web site. I hesitated, but clicked on it anyway. Seems she moved out West several years ago, and works in a large veterinary practice. She looks almost exactly the same as she did in high school. Sounds the same. Has exactly the same mannerisms. It was a bit of a shock. Seems she spends most of her free time out in the outdoors, skiing, hiking, rafting, etc. with her husband and kids–all the stuff we used to do and dreamed about doing together, just with someone else now.

I’m happy for her, but at the same time I had a twinge–what might have been if I had had my shit together a little earlier?

I felt a little down for about five minutes and then started to think about all the good things in my life–my long relationship with my GF, who is a much kinder person, and even smarter. Our lovely home together. The freedom I have to pursue my hobbies. I’ve been so fortunate to have the life I have. It’s all good!

So, I spare a minute of wistful remembrance, and move on with my day, and my happy life.

What wistful memories do you have from your past?