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The Art of Regret
I have feelings I don't know what to do with. I have never been taught how to face them, or deal with them, or get rid of them. I have been taught to take my feelings and pretend they don't exist, shoving them back into the black hole that is my heart. But I'm afraid that black hole has closed, and the feelings I have are taking control of my body, circulating through my veins replacing my blood, and taking over my brain. And I have no desire to stop them.
I don't remember what it feels like to go to bed without pondering over it, and trying to come up with scenarios that would cure me. Every day for the past 4,380 days I have gone to bed thinking about Jullian McKinney. It was an impossible love story. A lonely intern falling in love with her superior, a story told too many times. I remember walking into the cold building, looking at my dream place of work, The New York Times. I had scored an internship here through my college professor, Bart Hindle. Nevertheless I never expected anything romantic in the sense to happen. It was just my place of work. I remember seeing him for the first time, and remembering it so vividly because, I felt nothing. He was just my boss, and I even feared him a little. He would be the one to make or break my career. So a romantic affair was not an option. But apparently, that decision wasn't in my hands at all.
He gave me my assignments on a weekly basis. Most of the interns got coffee duty, but one of the journalists went on maternity leave, and being a graduate of Yale University, they offered me her spot. I passed by him in the office every day, at the same time, same place, watching the interns swear under their breath when he didn't thank them for the coffee they went out in freezing cold weather to get him. Never once did he wave back at me, or even acknowledge me, but it wasn't my problem. I found myself wondering about what made him so cruel. How someone could be so ruthless, and still have people that respect him. There had to be more to the story. I just had to find out what.
With every story I put out, the more he payed attention to me, and the more I payed attention to him. It came to a point where I felt comfortable trying to dig into his past. I would come into the office every day, and instead of a pointless wave, or a nod hello that society had us believing was enough to greet a person, I asked him a question. Every single day. My questions weren't creepy or too invasive, they asked simple things that just scratched the surface of his life. Questions I carefully chose to give me just enough insight into his life. Surprisingly enough he answered every single one of them. Through the months I learned his family tree, his career history, even a little about his love life, but the one thing I couldn't crack, his personality. I came into the office one day planning on asking what his favorite type of dog was, when he stopped me and gently said,"You've been asking me an awful lot of questions these past few months you've worked here." My heart skipped five beats all at once. All I could do was stare into his sharp green eyes. "I suppose now it's time for me to ask you a question." His face flushed red, his ears perked up, and his eyes were trying to pierce my soul.
"I suppose," is all I could force out of my throat.
"Would you like to come out with me tonight, after you finish your work of course, and grab a drink?" I couldn't really process what was happening at the time. He was hitting on me? Me? Out of all the girls in the world, me? I guess that's how every girl feels in a situation like this but...he's my boss. My boss who I have no interest in having any type of relationship with except...why did I ask all those questions then? What was I trying to get out of it? Time dragged on as he waited for an answer, and I figured, what's the harm in a drink with my boss who I don't even like?
"That sounds good. Around 8 ok?"
"Perfect," he smiled a smile I never saw before. His big pearly white teeth, perfectly lined up, peaking out of his mouth. With that my world turned on its side.
Turns out, taking me out for a drink meant with some of his other friends too. A completely friendly gesture. But with that I learned, he wasn't such a bad person. The Jullian McKinney I thought I knew threw a Beauty and the Beast turn at me, and went from a horrible nasty person who wouldn’t even acknowledge me when I said hello to him in the morning, to a kind and shockingly caring human being. There was a moment when we looked each other in the eye, and sparks flew everywhere. There was enough tension to start a fire with those sparks. I found myself mentally tracing the features of his face. His sharp cheekbones, chiselled chin, perfectly shaped nose, his hair all shaggy making me want to run my fingers through it and mess it up even more, all the way down to his encapsulating eyes that said, “Be mine.” He took me in his arms, pulled me close enough to breath the same air I did, staring into my soul through my inviting brown eyes, but I pulled away, weary of opening up my heart. I couldn’t risk having a broken heart. I couldn’t risk being broken.
Despite my fighting against it, with every night he asked me to a drink, my yearn for him grew stronger. I wanted to feel him in my arms, knowing he will be mine forever. The only problem with every night now was that, he didn't want me anymore.
Over the course of twelve years I climbed the ladder, and became the head of the New York Times. I sat at my large desk looking through the floor to ceiling window, at all the little people walking, thinking that was me. But over the course of these 12 long, tiring, years, I watched Jullian McKinney go from girl to girl, getting dumped, and getting sick over each one. Taking care of him when he hurt, and spending time with him when he was happy. It broke me over the years, leaving my heart shattered in a million different pieces. It broke me when I realized, I wasn’t the one making him happy. I regretted never taking a stab at him twelve years ago when I had the chance. I regretted never telling him anything when he was my boss, because now I'm his. I regretted not taking my professor’s advice when he urged,”Regret is a bigger burden than failure.” The tables have turned, but nothing is different. I worked so hard to reach the point I was at in my career. I took so many risks, but were those the risks I needed to take to make myself happy? I would never give up my job for anything, but maybe taking a risk or two with my heart might have made me happier. Maybe those risks would have lead me to stop second guessing myself, and achieve even more in my life. But the past is set in stone, and there’s no way to tell myself to put my heart out on the chopping block, and hope for the best, like I knew I should have. I turned back to the window as salty tears of regret trickled down my cheeks. I watched Jullian McKinney on the sidewalk as he got down on one knee in front of his girlfriend of three years, and pull out a small burgundy box, with a beautiful emerald ring inside to match his eyes. But with all my power, and success, all I wanted was him. All I could hear over and over in my head was a Pride and Prejudice quote,"We are all fools in love."