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The Taste Was Not So Sweet

"Breaking up with her was probably the most painful event in my life" he said. "I mean - how can you measure pain? You can't use feet, inches or pounds... there's no way to compare. I mean - I've been through things, but nothing even came close to that."

We were sitting in a small café in one of the busiest streets of Tel Aviv on a hot summer afternoon. Not the typical setting for this kind of conversation. I had no more than 15 minutes to stay with him before my lunch break would be over, and we still hadn't addressed the issue we had planned to discuss. But I didn't want to interrupt him. When I spoke with him the night before he had told me that he was just leaving the house "to meet someone very special. I'll tell you about it tomorrow." I guessed it was she.

We weren't close friends and I didn't really know much about his personal life, but I did know that he had been in a long relationship that had ended a few months before he had came to the US where I met him. "I met her last night," he said and bit his lower lip as if trying to hold back his tears. "How long has it been?" I asked. "Three years," he said. "Three long years." "Did it ever happen to you," he asked "that you wanted something so bad, and when you finally got it, you realized that... well - that it's not so great? That you don't feel what you thought you'd feel?" "That the taste was not so sweet?" he added in English, and I had to stop myself from saying that I recognize the song (David Bowie's 'Changes'). "She initiated our breakup. To this day, I don't really understand the reason. "Something is missing" was all I could get from her. I spent years trying to figure it out, to analyze our relationship, to remember every detail, to understand what was missing there. Things escalated to a point where I realized that in order to keep my sanity, I had to make some drastic changes. It was then that I decided to leave."

"I moved to a place where I knew no one and began three long years of utter seclusion. It wasn't easy. The only thing that kept me going during those years was the thought that one day she would realize the mistake she had made. One day she would understand that I was the one, that she would never find someone better. I became obsessed with the idea. Almost everything I did came out of this urge to prove and show her and make her realize how much she had lost. And I did well during those years. I did very well."

"Last night I met her." "We had a nice evening. She seemed to have done well during those three years. That is - until we stopped pretending... turns out she wasn't doing well at all. "She made some bad moves," he said "in her personal and professional life. She left a good job after becoming romantically involved with her married supervisor who did everything he could to block her promotion after she ended their relationship, then she dated another guy for more than a year until the 'SOB' ("and this is the first time I heard her swearing," he said with a sad smile) left her for another woman whom he married two months later..."

"And then she said it... the thing that I wanted to hear most." His hands were shaking now "It was scary. She said it exactly the way I imagined she would. Using the same exact words. A replay of my darkest thoughts. A frightening déjà vu - 'It should have been you, you know... I made a big mistake... '"

"And you know something," he said as we were straightening our jackets on our way out, "it didn't feel good at all. Actually - I felt so bad. Bad for her, bad for myself, and bad for us, for the life we could have had together."

"I guess I'll show you the apartment some other time" he said...

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