Exploring the “what ifs” of life is something that has been my major obsession for a long time now.

I don’t remember if I’ve ever told the story of how I met Luke.  If I did, forgive me.  I’m going to tell it again if I’ve already done it.  If I haven’t, well, here it is.

I was in 8th grade. Luke was a senior.  We were both on crew for some school production.  I was building something, probably part of a set and was hammering away.  I can close my eyes and remember it like it was yesterday.  I was sitting in the hallway behind the stage with whatever it was I was building (that part is fuzzy).  This tall, gorgeous guy walks up to me and says, “How much of that hammer did you pay for?”  Being the smart-ass I was even at that young age, I looked him in the eye (and oh, what gorgeous blue eyes they were) and said, “None of it.  It belongs to the school.”  Exasperated, he said, “Ok.  How much of that hammer did the school pay for?”  Again, being a smart-ass, I said, “I would assume all of it because I doubt they’d steal it.”  He said, “Then use all of it.”

He then knelt down, held on to the pounding end of the hammer with one hand, put his other hand over my hand, and pulled my hand back on the handle.  Then he showed me how to use the leverage I got from moving my hand back to more effectively hit the nail.  He told me to use it that way from now on, got up, and walked away.

I watched him walk away and heaved a great sigh of admiration.  He was gorgeous!  He was a senior!  I had no shot with this boy…ever.  He would never look at me because I was just a silly 8th grader.  I went from instantaneous crush to instantaneously crushed.

Amazingly, we somehow developed a friendship.  I think it was through a mutual friend who attended Luke’s youth group.  I was invited along on a couple of outings and since Luke was there, we spent time together.

When I was in 9th grade, I started seeing someone.  I had that boyfriend from 9th through the end of 12th grade.  However, we broke up quite often.  Each time we’d break up, I’d manage to go out with Luke.  We were friends, we’d talk for hours on the phone, but I never dreamed he’d look at me as anything other than a friend.  I was too scared to tell him how wonderful I thought he was.  I guess I didn’t want to be rejected.

I went to college and Luke and I lost touch.  Two years later, I attended the funeral for a friend’s father and heard through the gossip mill that Luke had gotten married.  The whisperings were that he *had* to get married. I remember crying myself to sleep that night.  Even though we’d lost touch, I had harbored the hope that we’d run into each other, fall madly in love, and be together forever.  I had it bad and I was devastated that he was completely beyond my reach.

I moved on and got married the next year.  Each time I’d go home in the summers after Bubba and I moved away, I’d pray that Luke and I would run into each other.  I wanted nothing beyond seeing him and finding out if he was happy.  Luke was the one who got away.  I’d spent a lot of time kicking myself for never being able to tell him how I felt.  I knew that nothing would ever happen between us because I was married and would never dream of cheating on my husband.  But I desperately wanted to just see him.

I joined Facebook in 2008 and we found each other on there.  By then I’d thought I’d totally gotten over him.  I could look back with nostalgia and sweetly remember the monster crush I had on him.  We shared a few messages a few years ago on there, talking about a baseball game we’d attended together with his youth group and the troubles I had with my sister, Nancy, being in an abusive relationship.  I also asked him about a rumor I’d heard years before.  A mutual friend of ours had told me that he bragged to a group of them that we’d slept together back then.  He told me he’d wanted to but he respected me and my parents too much to even try it and if we had, he doesn’t kiss and tell.  It did strange things to my heart to find out he’d thought of me that way.

During the years, we’d comment on each other’s status updates or photos but aside from those few conversations (that all happened in the span of a 2 month time period back then), we really didn’t interact online much.  We never ran into each other in the summers.  He was sweetly thought of as “the one that got away.”

The night my marriage died last summer was the night I got back in touch with Luke.  I’d had a drink and googled “marital rape.”  The more I read the more I knew my marriage was dead – I’d never trust Bubba to touch me again.  I was feeling bold so I popped over to Luke’s wall and simply said, “Hi.”  A friend of mine stalked me over there and we ended up having a huge conversation on his wall.  Right in the middle, he got online and we were so busted.  That led to us having an IM chat and that is how we started up our friendship again.  We exchanged cell numbers since we both like to text.

During one of those early conversations, I admitted that I’d liked him all those years ago but never said anything because I thought he’d think I was just a young, silly girl.  He told me that he’d felt the same but never said anything because I always went back to my boyfriend and he wanted me to be happy.  I’ve always regretted not saying anything to him.  I don’t think I can live through another 20 years of regret for not speaking up and at least exploring this.  It’s been there for over a quarter century.  I owe it to myself to see if this leads somewhere or not.

And the rest, they say, is history.

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