By JANICE WONG
Sometimes, timing rather than love decides who we end up being with ? or without. Only some lucky people marry the loves of their lives. The rest marry the most suitable person who comes along when they are ready to settle down. A friend in his 20s came to this conclusion after confiding in me that he had recently met a woman who is more attractive than his wife, and so occupies his thoughts more often than his wife does.
"If only I had met her before I got married," he said wistfully.
But I think even if the love of one's life appears when one is single, one may not be in the right frame of mind to recognise him or her as such. And then love passes by. Life is littered with near misses and lost opportunities.
I attended my ex-boyfriend's wedding recently, which triggered many memories.
We met five years ago when I was 23 and he 31. It was love at first sight. He had an established career, was down-to-earth and steadfastly religious. I was then working as an air stewardess and my head was literally and metaphorically in the clouds. I was also well, let's put it this way not religious.Despite our differences, we were soul-mates. We had the same quirky sense of humour and shared long, intense overnight conversations.
But human nature is perverse. When someone is excessively nice to us, we start taking things for granted, instead of appreciating them even more.
My ex sent me to the airport, fixed my PC, reminded me to take health supplements and go to church. He had everything I could want in a husband except that I was not looking for one. A boyfriend was all I could cope with then.
I loved fast cars, danced wildly at Zouk and took off on shopping holidays at a whim. My life revolved around I, me and myself.
In the six months that we were together, he popped the question several times and talked ad nauseam about having children. He wanted us to enrol for a Christian marriage preparation course. Yes, I did often fantasise about a Vera Wang wedding gown, but I was at that stage of my life when I was more interested in Guess than Baby Guess.
And where dare I admit it? ? I still wanted to meet other men.
So I was a 23-year-old with the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old. Responsibility? Wasn't that for adults?
In short, I met Mr Right at the wrong time.
The more he talked about marriage and religion, the more I felt pressured and the more pressured I felt, the more irritable I became. I was too impatient to compromise. Every trivial matter blew up as a big deal. My mood obliterated the good in our relationship and reached a point where I just wanted out.
He was heartbroken; I was sad but relieved. He still called me regularly, beseeching me to change my mind.
The calls stopped finally after a year. Now and then, we say "Hi" via e-mail.
I had a few painful relationships after that. Served me right, as those rude wake-up calls were necessary for me to realise the meaninglessness of my hedonistic high life. I missed the tenderness of my ex and began having second thoughts. Perhaps I also felt more urgency to find someone marriageable before my biological clock reached zero hour. It dawned on me that I am not a pixie like Peter Pan who can flit around forever. One day, I'd wake up sick and alone when my fair weather friends flit away.
But I was too proud and too unsure of my ex's reaction to call him until last year.
The first thing he told me excitedly was that he had found The One. My heart tumbled to my feet. So, that's Fate.
If only I could turn back time. If only I had met him later. If only ... what feeble words.
These days, I am more circumspect. I have come to terms with my loss. There is nothing I can do about timing, but I can do everything about my choices.
Sometimes, when the nights get lonely, I toy with the idea of marrying a platonic friend of mine, who often assures me earnestly that, if the worst comes to the worst, he'd be willing to marry me.
But I always dismiss that. I have already made one mistake. I should not make another by settling for second best merely for the sake of getting hitched only to regret it soon after, as the guy who confided in me did.
Hopefully, the best is not over but yet to be.
The Straits Times Singapore / Asia News Network