(An Open Letter to a Guy I Went Out With Two or Three Times in College)
First, I want to make it clear that even though it’s Valentine’s Day – this is not a love letter. It’s just an explanation. And, it happens to be Valentine’s Day. Please, just consider the two a coincidence and nothing more. I’m not sure if you even remember me but we went out three times my sophomore year in college. Actually, it was probably more like two if you don’t count the time we met at fraternity party. I think it was sort of mutual after the third date (or the second date; however you would like to quantify our time together) that we would probably be better off not continuing with our relationship. Don’t worry, I don’t consider you an ex-boyfriend; I’m just not sure exactly what word to use to define our brief time in college together.
What I’m saying is that there were no hard feelings after we stopped speaking to each other completely. Then, I would say I pretty much forgot about you. I probably would have only thought about if you had become a famous movie star or ended up on the national evening news because you committed some kind of heinous crime; then, I might have pointed you out to someone if I was with them (unless it was my kids because that’s just a weird conversation to have with your kids) and say, “Oh, I kind of dated that guy.” Then, depending on the reason for your newfound fame I would have continued with either, “Good for him! Wow! I wonder if he knows Tom Hanks!” or “Oh my God. That’s so creepy. That could have been me. I am a terrible judge of character.”
But then I saw you six years ago in downtown Chicago as we were both exiting the train at the same time. There’s something I’ve wanted to tell you since I ran into you that morning: I was pregnant! That’s why I looked so bad! That’s why my skin looked like a petri dish specimen! That’s why I looked so bloated. That’s why my breasts were so big! (Well, maybe you thought that part was a plus but I did not.)
I was just on the cusp of being able to tell people and didn’t think it was appropriate for you to be the first non-close family member or really good friend I told. But, in retrospect, I should have told you.
I understand the thinking behind waiting to announce one’s pregnancy to the world. I really do. And at first, when I knew I was pregnant (and my husband knew I was pregnant and my sister and my parents and my husband’s sister and my husband’s parents and our grandparents and closest, closest friends too) it was just exciting to know that we all had a special secret. I thought that we in the “we-know Melissa-is-pregnant club” were the keepers of the most exciting secret in the world.
But then, morning sickness struck and my physical appearance began to change. And the next couple of months became more difficult. I felt horrible and I looked horrible. The first three months were the funky lovechildren of the book, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
So there I was, looking bad and feeling bad. What should I do to compensate? A big hug! I hugged you. Don’t think I overvalue the little connection we share. I just was caught off-guard and over, overcompensated with a hug. Initially, I tried to avoid seeing you but then we sort of caught eyes and I just charged right up to you. “Hi! It’s Melissa Sher! From college!” Really, I should have just kept walking. I’m sure that’s what you would have done had I not accosted you.
Of course, even if you knew I was pregnant you might still think, she really went downhill after college. And, maybe I did? I don’t know. I’m not going to be the judge of those things. I just want you to know that I can look a lot better. And, why do I care how I looked? You should know it’s not that I still hold a flame for you or like you. Not at all. I’m happily married to –it’s going to sound cheesy – my best friend. I would have felt the exact same thing had I run into anyone from my “previous life.” Former landlords. Old classmates. Ex co-workers. In fact, if I could have had it my way, I wouldn’t have seen anyone at that time. Not a single person.
When we got off and parted ways, do you want to know what I did? I ran into a Starbucks to make use of their spacious, clean, private bathroom and threw up. Don’t worry, it had nothing to do with you. It was the morning sickness.