Andy, Andy, Andy.

He's the second one who got away.

Andy and I were together for a brief time, only 12 weeks. But they were by far the most intense, most exciting 12 weeks of my life.

Spring 1993. Big Daddy and I had been together for almost two years. Both of our leases were going to be up soon, and Big Daddy felt that we should just go ahead and move in together. It seemed like the logical next step to take in the relationship, but I had some lingering doubts. I remember I kept putting off apartment hunting with him, and I remember some really big fights about my lack of commitment to the whole issue. That's when Andy came into the picture.

It was May, and I was spending a lot of time with some girls from work (we were all "cosmetic consultants" at a big department store downtown). Two of these women lived together in an old brick apartment building in the Uptown area of our fair city and that had become the place where we'd all gather. One warm night, our little group of chicks was getting ready to head out for that evening's round of bar hopping. I had heard them talk about the "cute guys" who lived across the hall from them, but had yet to meet them...cue the fateful knock on the door.

So in walk two boys. Both cute, both friendly. One of them had gone to the same high school as Big Daddy, and we started chatting a little bit about that and other things. I was struck by two things about Andy within a few minutes of meeting him. Number one, this boy was smart. For the first time in eons, I felt like I didn't have to dumb myself down to keep the conversation going. We talked about authors, about our favorite books. We both confessed a secret desire to write "the great American novel" someday. Number two? This boy was hot. Big Daddy wasn't ugly by any means, but this fella...it's been almost 17 years since I've seen that face but I close my eyes and I can see him like it was yesterday. Short, super short blond hair, a tanned/ruddy complexion, gorgeous deep-set blue green eyes. Built like a Greek god, too. He had been a soccer player for years, and if I know one thing for certain in this world, it's that soccer does nice things for a boy's thighs.

While Andy and I were immersed in conversation, someone broke out an old school bottle of tequila, the kind with the worm floating at the bottom. Someone also broke out a bong (this was to become the Summer of Being Baked) and the next thing I knew, I was making out with Adonis out on the screened-in porch.

Now, all ye who judge...yes, I did kind of cheat on Big Daddy. And for what it's worth, I feel bad about that. But in my defense, we were constantly fighting and breaking up, were not living together, we were not married, we did not have four kids and a decade under our belts. And I dare say, if any one of you were sitting within tongue distance of that smokin' hot plate of male, you would have done the exact same thing.

That night spilled over to the next day, and the next. Needless to say, the sex with him was breathtaking, amazing, almost beyond description. I remember closing my eyes and floating away as I felt his breath on my neck, dug my fingers into his strong, broad back. We spent days holed up in his stifling bedroom, lying in bed. We called it "the terrarium" and joked about moss and mushrooms growing on our bodies.

Within a day or so of the Tequila/Bong night, I told Big Daddy that I was feeling unsure about things, that maybe we should cool it for a while. So instead of finding our first little love nest together, Big Daddy moved in with his dad, and I moved in with a couple of girls from work...about half a block away from Andy.

Proximity means everything, at least it did back then. My friends and I would spend our days off lounging in the sun, walking around the lakes and planning our nights. One of the clearest memories I have of Andy: I was sitting on one of those awkward folding lounge chairs in front of my friend's apartment. We were gabbing, smoking our cigarettes and doing all the things you do when you are 24 and life is easy. Someone said, "Hey, here comes your loverboy, Jenny!" and I looked up to see him, rollerblading down the street towards us. And I remember thinking to myself, "I cannot believe that someone like him is interested in someone like me."

Our budding relationship had its ups and downs, of course, nothing is ever perfect. Andy would clam up for a day or two at a time, withdraw into his own little world. I worried, too, about how much he drank (yeah, I know, that's akin to Lady Gaga saying that someone is a little out there, right?). I asked him point blank, if he was feeling the same way I was, that this was something a little more than a fling, something more than a one-night stand on extended play. He dodged the question, I remember, and the subject was dropped. Then a few nights later, as our little group played darts and ate peanuts at a local bar (for poor twenty-somethings, "Dinner is served"), he brought it up again. We stole away to the dark hallway that led to the bathrooms and he leaned me up against the wall..."Remember what you asked me the other day?" he whispered. I nodded, and wondered if I had peanut skins in my teeth, damn those free bowls of nuts. He went on, "Well, yeah, I do feel that way. I like you. A lot. More than a lot." Ok, for a word-a-holic, this was pure gold. I said goodbye to my heart that night, and honestly, I don't think I was ever the same.

But as we all know, summer is the most fleeting of all seasons, and this one had a set-in-stone expiration date: Andy was leaving for graduate school out west in the fall. This impending departure loomed over us like a vulture waiting for a sick wildebeest to die...we rarely spoke of it, but it was always there.

And Big Daddy? He was still there, too, although like Ross and Rachel, WE WERE ON A BREAK (lol). We still talked, but didn't go out. At the risk of sounding all full of myself, he was pining and I was not. Looking back on all of this, I can kind of wear a big old hypocrite hat myself. Like Mary MacGregor put it so eloquently, I was torn between two lovers. One was safe, secure, steady. The other was a wild card, dangerous, exhilarating. Talk about forks in the road...this one was giant, and I was never before, and have never been since, so confused.

The end of summer was upon us. Andy finally asked me to go out west with him. I guess I knew all along that he would, and I wanted to. I desperately wanted to just pick up and go, but something held me back. Was it fear of the unknown? Another one of my dorky hunches? Who knows. But I made a choice that August. And that choice has led me to where I am today. Good or bad, smart or stupid, I did it. You can't go back, but dammit, you can sit and wonder what the hell life would have been like if you had chosen Door B.

So he left. Big Daddy was waiting for me, and we picked up right where we had left off. I remember the very last time I saw Andy. I was in Big Daddy's car, driving down the main street of our little Uptown utopia. We slowly passed a Blockbuster store and I felt my heart almost stop when I saw Andy and his roommate walking up to the door. To me, he looked sad, almost downtrodden, but perhaps that was just my own lovesick psyche implanting itself onto what I saw. That was it, the final vision of my sweet summer love.

I still think about him, quite a bit. A song will come on, a movie will be referenced, a passage from a novel will bring it all up again. I even have a note from him, saved all these years, pressed between the pages of one of my favorite books. Yes, I know how creepy and stalkerish that sounds, but it's the truth. I thought about him as I got married, as I had my babies, as life meandered on and on.

What would have happened, had I gone with him? Who knows. Twelve weeks does not a relationship make. To give you a rather crude, very inappropriate analogy, it's like a pregnancy that ends too soon. You will always wonder what could have been, and that lost hope will always be perfect. There wasn't time for faults to show themselves, for imperfections to come to the surface.

And that is the story of Andy. Talk amongst yourselves, please...this one really got me all verklempt.

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