I met my boyfriend, Gideon, in the spring of 2010. Both in the top of our class, we were invited to a governor's reception in Little Rock. After I took a photo with Gov. Beebe, I retreated to the refreshment table.
I first saw Gideon when I was drinking subpar lemonade. Standing in the back of the room, he wore a dark suit and an even darker expression. I couldn't figure out why a person could look so sad during a celebration like that, so I approached him.
"Hey man, what's up?" I introduced myself. (I am the first to admit that flirting is not one of my talents.) He backed away, clearly put off by my demeanor. Not one to be ignored, I pressed the situation. I think he gave in and started answering my questions when he realized that if he did, I might go away.
We talked about movies and books and music. We exchanged contact information, though I'm sure he never expected me to contact him. Roughly a week after we met, I started dating another person. A senior at the college I'd be attending in the fall, he seemed wise and kind.
That relationship went sour fast, but I hid it and did my best to save it for three years. During those three years, I talked to Gideon online. We discussed topics I wouldn't dare discuss with my then-boyfriend out of the fear of starting an argument. Topics ranged anywhere from our family histories to a shared hatred of extremist politics to pop culture.
One afternoon, we shared our favorite music back and forth on Gmail for four hours. It was an incredibly intimate relationship considering we had seen each other in person only once in our lives, and I often found myself wondering if I had much deeper feelings for Gideon.
But I kept insisting to myself that I needed to save the relationship I was in instead of wanting somebody else. When Gideon started seriously dating someone in 2012, I realized how much I cared for him. I didn't even know his then-girlfriend but trash-talked her to all my friends anyway, all the while mentally questioning what I was doing.
That was when I realized I picked the wrong guy. I chose a man who talked down to me, pushed me into walls and ignored my feelings over a close friend who was always there for me.
Gideon and I both found ourselves single in the fall of 2013, but I felt I had missed my chance with him. We had begun talking more than ever, even expressing our feelings for each other. Still, I felt so stupid for passing up my chance to date him four years before that I couldn't reason why he'd want to be with me then. Because of that, I agreed to casually date.
That didn't last very long; last year on this exact date, we both agreed to give serious dating a shot. In a year's time, we have started dating, moved in together, moved to another city together and spent the holidays with each others' families.
It's more than I ever dreamed I could have, especially since I initially passed on the opportunity. Looking at the life we're building together, I'm beginning to think that maybe there's just as much serendipity in a second chance as there is in getting it right the first time.
* * *
Samantha Jones is a reporter for the Carroll County News.