A Life Without Regrets
Awhile back I shared a story on here that had nothing to do with my hair, instead it was one of the more amusing chapters from my on-going quest for love. It proved to be my most popular blog post, so I thought I’d share another:
A few years ago I took a backpacking tour up into the highlands and islands of Scotland. One day we stopped for lunch in a tiny town on the isle of Lewis and I went into a small craft store. There was a very nice, very attractive young woman working there. It was a quiet day and we ended up talking for half an hour. She was an artist and she ran the place but she was very interested in documentary films. She said her dream was to one day live in San Francisco. When I told her that I was born in San Francisco and hoped to eventually move back she joked about marrying me to get a visa. I smiled and pretended that I wasn’t thinking the exact same thing. We had a pleasant time, and I was completely smitten with her. But when was I ever going to come back to Lewis? When I went to leave she asked for my name, and I deftly handed her one of my cards and told her to look me up if she ever came down to Edinburgh. She smiled and said that she would.
And then I left.
As I walked back to the tour bus I had a huge smile on my face. I was so proud of myself for handing her my card like that. I felt like Cary Grant.
For the rest of the tour I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman. But I wanted to kick myself, why hadn’t I asked for her number, or her email address, or…her name? Oh my god, I never asked what her name was. So much for being Cary Grant.
A week later I got back to Edinburgh and she was all I thought about. I did some internet wizardry (read as: stalking) and found the Facebook page for the shop she worked in, which had lots of photographs but only 31 likes. She was tagged in one of the photos so I found out that her name was Kayleigh. Kayleigh MacDonald. Not only that, but I realized that I happened to have a friend in Edinburgh who was from the same small town. So I called him up and asked if he knew her, and sure enough, he did. She was in the same class as his older sister. He confirmed for me that she was 26, single and totally cool. He also gave me her email address.
So I emailed her.
I told her that I might be coming back up to Lewis at the end of the month to do some research for a film I was working on and I wondered if I made it up if she’d like to go for a drink and continue our conversation. She wrote back immediately and said that she’d love to. She flirted with me a bit saying that she hoped our conversation would be fruitful and that she’d get around to properly Facebook stalking me on the weekend.
I took a week off work and booked the train, bus, and ferry up to Lewis. I decided to stay there for five nights, thinking that if I was only there for two it would be easy for something to come up that would prevent her from meeting up with me, but if I was there for five nights she’d have no excuse. Plus, if things went well maybe we could see each other more than once.
Now to be clear, there was no film for me to research. That was all a cover story. I figured I couldn’t tell her that I was going to go all that way just to see her. That might make me seem crazy. And I figured if things went well it might make for a good story on the night I proposed to her (many years down the line. Yes, that’s the way my mind works.) Sure, I was a bit crazy, but I knew if I didn’t take the chance it would become a regret, and I’d rather do everything I can to live a life without regrets.
So two weeks later I headed up to Lewis, and in that time we’d traded multiple emails and text messages, all of which were a little flirty. On the day that I arrived she couldn’t come in to town because there was a terrible storm, but she told me to come into the shop the next day. I did, and we had a nice chat. She gave me some great news, she’d just gotten a job in Edinburgh for three months, but she couldn’t do anything that night because her brother was in town and she had to catch up with him. So she told me to come back in the next day. The next day she said that she had to stay home that night to pack everything up for her move to Edinburgh, but would I still be in town on Sunday? I said that Sunday was my last night. She said, “That’s great, it’s my day off work, text me around noon and we’ll do something.”
I wasn’t too put off by the delays, she had kept telling me to come back in, and we had continued to trade text messages. Also, with her moving to Edinburgh I only really needed to go on one good date with her.
On the Saturday I traveled around Lewis a bit, trading one or two texts with her, but I didn’t go into the shop.
On Sunday morning I woke up and got ready. I sent her a text at 12:07 (I didn’t want to seem too eager and text her right at noon.) And then I waited.
And she never texted me back.
I tried to make excuses for her: maybe her refrigerator fell on her and she was lying under it, trapped, but desperately wanting to meet me for a pint.
The next day I went back to Edinburgh, a little disappointed, but at the same time quite proud of myself. For one thing, I’d made the effort. No matter what happened it was better than finding myself ten years down the line telling stories about this one woman I met in a shop on the isle of Lewis who I’d felt this connection with, but I’d never done anything about it. And I was proud that I didn’t call or email her to find out what had happened. If she wanted to see me, she knew exactly where I was, I wasn’t going to humiliate myself any further.
So when I got back to Edinburgh I really wanted her to know that I’d only gone up there for her. I didn’t want her to be one of those women I pictured in my head sometimes saying, “God, I wish I could meet a nice guy who’d try to sweep me off my feet.” I was a nice guy, and I’d gone to great lengths, not to mention personal expense, and she left me sitting in my hostel.
But I never saw the friend we had in common, and I eventually forgot about her.
Then, about nine months later, I got a new flatmate. A very sweet young woman named Amanda, and to be honest the day that I met her I wondered if it would be a mistake to hit on a flatmate. I was up in the air about it. I mean, our rooms were right next to each other.
Amanda was a teacher, and one night during her first week in the flat we were talking about Facebook and how they are always changing the privacy settings. Amanda was really worried about her settings because she didn’t want her students to be able to see anything. Since she and I weren’t “friends” yet she asked if I would look her up and see how much I could find out.
So I did.
Her photos, statuses, and personal information were all private, but I could see her likes. She liked 55 pages. So I searched through them. And low and behold, one of her likes was for the shop that Kayleigh ran. And it only had 31 likes, which means all 31 people had to have a connection to the store. I got excited. This was my chance to find out what had happened, and at the very least it was my chance to get the word back to Kayleigh that I’d only come up to Lewis to see her.
So I asked Amanda, “Do you happen to know Kayleigh MacDonald?”
And she said, “Kayleigh’s my ex-girlfriend. We were together for about three years but we broke up last month.”
I was dumbfounded.
In all my life I have never been at such a total and complete loss for words.
Amanda didn’t know what was wrong, she asked, “Why? Do you know her?”
But still I couldn’t speak.
Eventually I regained my composure and told Amanda the whole story. Then I went back in my phone and re-read every text and every email, and there was no mistaking it, she was flirting with me. But it turned out the month that I’d met her they were going through a rough patch. Kayleigh was still in the closet, which explained why my friend thought she was single. It also made sense because Lewis is a very religious island. That was the problem in their relationship, Amanda was out and proud, and because of where she lived, Kayleigh couldn’t be. (Which also explained why her dream was to live in San Francisco.)
It took me a good while to relax after that bombshell, but I eventually recovered.
A few weeks later Amanda told me that she’d bumped into Kayleigh and that she was going to come over on the weekend. She wanted to know if I was okay with that. To be honest, I wasn’t, but I didn’t want to be a dick to Amanda. So I said it was no problem. When Kayleigh saw me in the flat, she just said “Hey,” like nothing had ever happened. She spent the night, in the room right next to mine. I tried very hard to not hear anything. And I never said anything because I liked Amanda and wanted her to be happy. They patched things up and Amanda moved out after two months.
Last I heard Kayleigh had come out, but it hadn’t gone well at home. However they were still together, and happy. So there’s that.
And I don’t have any regrets about it. So there’s that also.