Once in everyone’s lifetime a critical moment is reached with a significance that has a life-impacting effect. For some, it is a bush with death that brings about this feeling; for others, it is the realization of something previously unknown; for me, it was the moment I asked out the girl of my dreams.

For over six years Anne and I worked in separate departments of the same hotel, yet we always seemed to share lunch or dinner together in the hotel’s employee cafeteria. During these meal breaks, we shared intimacies with each other few other people had ever shared with either of us. Many times, these breaks went over their allotted times because we were too deep into the conversation of that time. Whenever I left her, I went back to my job wishing I could have spent just one more moment, even one instant, with her before having to part from her company.

Over those six years, I agonized over the realization that I could never garner up the courage that was required for me to ask her out. Over the years I made simple, yet believable, excuses that served to convince myself that the timing had in fact been wrong each time I let an opportune moment pass me by. Sometimes I told myself that she wasn’t really interested in me; other times I told myself that there had to be someone else involved with her because she was way too beautiful to be going home alone each and every night; and then there were times when I convinced myself that she was worth waiting for just the right moment.

But that moment never came. We continued to have long, interesting conversations where I found myself fascinated by anything she had to say, even if she was reading to me from the phone book. For those six, long years, I never made a move or said the words that reflected how I truly felt.

It was at the end of this waiting period, at this nexus of false hopes, that I realized why I could never truly ask her out. I was so scared of being turned down by her, of discovering she truly didn’t want to become involved with me. I was living in this make-believe world where my fantasy woman was waiting for me to say the words that would bring us together forever. Calling her on my fantasy just might show me how little I really meant to her. Then I would not only lose our intimate conversations, but my fantasy would die right along with them. I would be left with nothing but a shattered, six-year dream.

However, after six years, I told myself I could wait no longer. I was only fooling myself with this illusion, and it needed to be fleshed out or dissolved once and for all. So, in one of our friendly conversations, I took the big step and asked her out.

There’s no denying the fact that this was the most difficult thing I had ever done. I was a military veteran who had stared death in the eye on more than one occasion, but I would have gladly gone back to those moments rather than to have been there staring into those beautiful eyes as they looked deeply into my own as I asked the question.

My palms were sweating, my stomach was turning, and I could barely form coherent sentences. She appeared so natural before me as I came to believe I was talking to her from another planet through a tunnel that seemed to stretch forever. Even when I said the words I had to say, I couldn’t be sure I was saying them in the right language.

But at that moment, I fulfilled a destiny that I had been considering for over six years, a destiny that would have haunted me the rest of my life if I had not taken that simple, yet brave step. I had asked out the girl of my dreams, and no matter what happened, I would never live to regret the fact that I had let the opportunity of my life get away from me, that I had wimped out where I needed to be strong, even if I didn’t feel that way when I accomplished the task. Planets could form or die, but the mission of my life was completed; I had done the one thing I might never have attempted, and my future could only be an easier task for it.

In the end, Anne never did go out with me. She told me she would get back to me with an answer, even sounding positive as she said it. But in essence, she never did get back to me, and we did grow further and further apart after that moment. The one thing I did fear might happen, that she would turn away from me and I would lose our precious moments together, actually did happen. However, this didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might. When I first considered this possibility, I still believed that there was a chance between us, the fantasy still going strong in my mind. Yet, when she didn’t respond positively, I no longer craved those moments together; our precious time no longer seemed precious to me.

On that fatal day, a large part of my life died. For six years, I had dreamed and faltered, always hoping for the opportunity to make my dream come true. However, my only regret was not that I had asked her out and lost her companionship for the rest of my future but the fact that it had taken me so long to ask her and bury a dream that had no substance in reality. Even as I still see those beautiful eyes in my memories, I can look to the future and the belief that there is someone else out there who will find me the suitable choice. I can only imagine the tragedy of having waited another six years only to discover much later that I was waiting for a dream that wasn’t going to happen.

Author of Innocent Until Proven Guilty and 15 other novels. Writer, college professor and computer game designer.

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