The One that Got Away?

BAMMER47 (1976): Have ever felt like you missed a golden opportunity for a relationship with the person you were meant to be with?

Willie by a pool in Ushuaia, Argentina, in 1980 or so

The idea of “the one that got away” is a trope in our cultural lore. But, how often does it happen in real life?



I’ve been fortunate never to experience such a near miss. But, I can only imagine the feeling of crushing disappointment that might accompany nearly consummating a relationship you feel was meant to be, then watching it vanish forever.



Willie holding me in Washington, DC, during our 2 week affair in 1976.


Have any viewers experienced this? How does one know that the one that got away was meant to be? And how do you recover from that disappointment? Is it possible to then resume life with a sense of optimism?.




The closest I came to experiencing that was in my first affair, with Willie Wilson. He came into my life unexpectedly and swept me off my feet in March 1976, when we met at the Lost and Found Disco in Washington, DC. I was 23. We spent two glorious weeks together, my first taste of what romance with another man could be like (pic #2 is a blurry, blown up single frame from a selfie video I took of us while he was holding me during our time together).

In LA in 1976, when I reunited with Willie, 6 months after our initial affair.

Yet, I knew from the beginning it wasn’t likely to be more than an affair. The odds against it were too great. He was visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area. He’d been in a throuple relationship for a year and a half (although it wasn’t going well and part of his reason for the trip east was to consider whether or not to remain in it). And we were from such different places that the spark that lit us up for the time we were together was pretty clearly meant for that moment and not forever. Yet, because man-on-man love was new to me, I held onto the possibility that something else might grow out of it for the rest of that year until I visited him on the west coast and realized my intuition had been correct.

Another shot of Willie in LA in 1976




Willie and I are still friends after 45 years. I saw him and his partner of 20+ years, Jason, in Ptown most recently during the July 4th holiday in 2018.










A photo Willie had mailed me of him on his research vehicle in Ushaia, Argentina around 1980 - saililng to Antarctica
Willie and me reunited in Provincetown for July 4th, 2018

#MikeBalaban


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