02nd Jan 2008

Missed opportunities

A writing from tiny’s blog, somehow I find it nice. And as she mentioned that she would close her blog sooner or later , so I paste it in here. Hope you don’t mind.

Missed opportunities

Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy :)

Last month, I was in Chicago and had an interesting talk with a friend of mine, Al Pacino. Al used to live in the I-House at the same time I was living there. That was 2002 and I just came to Chicago. Back then, I-House had, I guess, about a hundred of residents, mostly international students. But Al and I never talked to each other.

In 2003, I moved out of I-House and into another place called The B House. Time passed. Then in summer 2005, I moved out of the B House, first to Portland, then back to Chicago, then New Jersey and now New Hampshire. One month before I moved out of the B House, a Chinese girl moved in and we quickly bonded. I liked her a lot and she liked me too. Anyway, to make the long story short, the Chinese girl became a very good friend of mine and, as it turned out, she was a close friend of Al. So, as more time passed, in 2006, when I visited Chicago and stayed at the B House as a guest, I found Al living there, through my Chinese friend’s recommendation.

Now, the thing is I did not know Al when we were living in I-House. We saw each other a couple of times in the elevator, dining room or the main lobby but that was it. But somehow, I remembered him. I even remembered having an impression — what kind of impression I could not recall for sure, but an impression nonetheless. I remembered he used to hang with a group of first-year economics PhD guys and they would stay in the dining room, doing homework and drinking at the same time. He looked like a fun guy. The cool type of guy.

With all honesty, back in 2002, I was this clumsy awkward little girl who did not know how to make up, behave in social places or deal with guys (still don’t know better now but at least I can manage). Cool guys scared me to death. Cool guys and cool girls, to me, were like a special breed that I needed to admire from afar instead of coming close to make friend. And so, I made sure I stayed far away from “The Pacino”. I was sure as hell that a guy like him would never ever, not in a million years, pay as much as a glance to a girl like me.

OK, so now it was 2006 and I saw Al again at the B House. Since I stayed there for one week, we bumped into each other in the kitchen (mind you, only 7 people lived in the B House, with a huge kitchen). Of course, we talked. He sort of remembered that I once stayed at the I-House; and I of course remembered him as a cool “scary” guy.

Anyway, we talked… and talked some more… From 2006 to 2007, I returned to the B House three times to meet with my dissertation committee and every time, I stayed at the B House and every time, I had a chance to catch up with Al. We grew closer – as friends, of course. We could talk for hours about research, life, U of C, friends, and most of all, relationships. Sometimes, we talked well into midnight and had a lot of fun.

About last month, yes. We had a chance to catch up again and Al told me about his recent break-up. We talked more about relationships between men and women; and then I told him what I had been thinking all along:

– Al, you know… I’ve been thinking. We used to live at I-House at the same time but I am sure back then you would never give girls like me a chance. And look, now that we know each other better, see how nice I am?

He burst out laughing and he said:

– But what do you mean I would never give girls like you a chance?

I said:

– I meant I would not have a chance with you, not back in 2002. Back then, you would not look at me or ever consider dating me. The thought, I am sure, never crossed your mind.

– How can you be so sure?

– Because I know. Back in 2002, I was very naive and clumsy and all. I knew I would not have a chance with guys like you. But you see, those missed opportunities are so… dear.

He insisted that I was very very wrong. He insisted that he had always been interested in smart girls — “like you,” said he, pointing at me. While we were talking, there was another guy in the kitchen, Elton John. And Eltie also assured me that he would agree to date me any time. I believed his exact words were: “Who wouldn’t want to date a girl who eats shrimps with a chopstick and reads Henry Miller at the same time?” (Well, I was eating shrimps with one chopstick and was indeed reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer at that moment). So, the two guys had fun teasing me for being silly and all. They said:

– Huong, if guys don’t know how to appreciate you, then screw them! It’s their loss.

Oh, but Eltie is gay and Al is just too nice. The thing is, I know they probably meant what they said when we were talking — now, in 2007, with me being the 2007-version Huong and Al being the 2007 Al, we could date. Now, Al might look at me and consider dating me. But truth be told, I know back in 2002, I would not have a chance with him. Never, friend!

Not that I wanted him to date me back then. Nor did I want him to date me now. What I was trying to say was, he could have dated me in 2007 if I were 2007 Huong and still single. And also, if he had dated me back in 2002, then everything would be very different now.

And so, I came to think about missed opportunities. I missed my chances with many people, whom I only much later knew that they were interested in me at the time we were crossing paths and yet missing each other by a hair-line. I was so utterly clumsy and naive in 2002 that I was not able to see through the things presented to me and the people who came to me.

Not that I have regrets about the decisions I made so far, since because of those decisions, yours truly is who she is today and the very one writing these lines. But I must also say that my life could have been very different if at some particular moment in my life, I had seen things more clearly. Whet
her it’s better or not is not my concern, I am only saying it will be different…

Well, time will pass and more time will pass… Perhaps with its passing, any regrets we may have will fade away too. And if contrary is the case, at the very least, we can still change and perhaps request a second chance, no?

Comment of mine:

Funny, some days ago, when I was having dinner in Hanoi with my very old and dear girlfriend, we talked almost same thing, about us and guys back then in late 90s when we were all naive clumsy high school girls.

But what I always think (by always I mean for last some years, I guess) is I have never regretted anything. Because I definitely understand that I (or perhaps everybody) can not be better than ourselves at that very moment. The girl of that 1998 could not be the actual me, and it means we have not that second chance, right? Because the chance of today is the unique chance of the today-you :-)

8 Responses to “Missed opportunities”

  1. Lien P Says:

    comment of mine:
    to see things more clearly, we do need some missed opportunities to put on the scale.

  2. hoaianh Says:

    1. For me, the missed oppurtinity leads to a better one (at this time), but i may have missed an even better one for taking this one, hihi…
    2. Imagine me with Brad Pitt, wow, great!
    And having 4 kids… urghhh …now I start to feel sick :D

  3. zim Says:

    it’s what I think that I would never regret anything that I have done or missed or got during my life, even it’s really a bad bad fault…

  4. Huong Says:

    Hey Ha, can you change the real names to initials or fake names, please? :)

  5. Huong Says:

    I just read your new version and it was pretty confusing with those initials :) (my bad, sorry). Perhaps, then, for the sake and love of storytelling, you might want to use the new version in my blog :)

  6. today20 Says:

    Hey Hoang, actually that love timing is almost the only thing I still remember about 2046 :p but now rethink about it, you can not be that generalized, can you? The right person of that moment of your life can be the wrong on the other moment, and vice versa. So it’s no good meeting the right person of the sooner or later moments :-D but of the current moment only :-D

    For some, they have not “current moment”, but it’s another story already.

  7. today20 Says:

    Done :)

  8. Hoang Says:

    It’s utterly true that one can not be better than oneself at any given moment. And is it this reason they say: “Love is all a matter of timing, it’s no good meeting the right person too soon or too late”?

Leave a Reply