For a Moment, I Thought I was a Father

January 8, 2011

The bar was crowded when I got there. Through the window I saw her sitting in the corner with a drink in hand. She was always early when we met. Even though it had been eight months since we broke up, I felt nervous. Like you do when you go on a first date. I had no idea why she wanted to meet me for a drink. Especially, after all of this time. Did she want to get back together? Did she want to tell me why she ended the relationship? Or was it just to rekindle things just for an evening? I opened the door and walked in.

For me, Hillary was a dating life raft. Rescuing me from the depths of past relationships and awkward dates. And within an hour of meeting her, I knew we would have a good run together. Our first date was one of the best first dates I have ever had. And I don’t say that lightly. I walked her home and before I made it back to Capitol Hill from Ballard, I had a text message from her saying she had a great time.

Hillary was an early morning person. Often up by 6:00 a.m. — even on the weekends. She would wrap a towel around the coffee grinder in the morning as to not wake me. I would wake up and find the grinder in the farthest corner of her apartment. With coffee in hand, we would watch the sun rise over Ballard and spy on her neighbor who chain smoked in those early mornings. One afternoon I dropped her off at the University and as she walked away she turned around, smiled, and waved. I was completely content.

But you guys know how this story ends. Her phone calls became less frequent. And I had a feeling that the relationship was ending. One beautiful Saturday morning, she told me that she didn’t see a future with me.

It took me a while to get over Hillary. But I did. And I moved on. I got excited about new relationships and new possibilities. Months later I started to write my annual end-of-year reflection. I had it nearly complete when I decided that I should have a section about Hillary. She did make an impact on my life this past year and ripples of our relationship influenced me for months, even so today. In order to be honest with myself, I had to include a section about her.  A few days after I sent it to everyone, I decided to send it to Hillary. I don’t know why — blame it on melancholy or nostalgia. But I did, and the next day I received this message:

Nick, Thanks for sending this. It’s an incredibly thoughtful piece, and I’m glad you think fondly of our time together last year, as do I. It’s nice to know that you’ve been up to the same types of adventures (cat pee? Can we blame that on Smokey?), and are still amusing yourself and the general public with your great sense of humor about life. Are you free one night this week to meet up for a drink? Hillary

Hillary greeted me with a hug when I walked in. Around her neck was a white scarf and her eyes were just as I remembered them. Her hands were folded in her lap. And her blonde hair sparkled in the dim light. She looked fantastic. I ordered a drink. Hillary and I chatted like old friends. Then I asked her if she was still living in Ballard.

She said to me, “Nick, I am living in Kirkland and that is why I wanted to meet you tonight.” My mind raced. She continued, “After we broke up…” The color drained from my face. Possibilities flashed before my mind and I thought, “Oh my God, I got her pregnant! I’m a father! How could it have happened? We were careful!” She went on, “… I started to date someone you know. Who you are friends with. And we are engaged. I wanted to let you know in person before you found out in some roundabout way.” She told me who it was.

I was hurt and heartbroken again. I was angry. And it got awkward really fast. Her hands were still folded in her lap and her right hand was obstructing her engagement ring. I don’t know if she did that on purpose or if it was coincidence. I asked when she was getting married and she said June. They had talked it over about how to tell me. And when they both, independently received my end-of-year reflection, they thought it was best to tell me now. Not to ruin any friendships. She asked me if I had any questions. I didn’t want to know a thing. But then a question came to mind — why did you end the relationship with me? She replied, “I thought you deserved to be with someone who could give you more than I had to offer.”

Outside the bar she hugged me. And I don’t even remember what I said to her or what she said to me. I was still in complete shock. We had parked in opposite directions and we parted. I walked to the intersection and looked back. And Hillary was looking back at me.

I think we never truly get over someone, we just forget what it was like being with them. Seeing Hillary again all those feelings I had for her came back. And I felt angry and stupid about my expectations for the evening. I left and it was raining. I got home, got out of my car, and I sat alone in the rain.



  1. Wow, just wow.

  2. great post.

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