V. Planning my outfits around the days that I would see him. So coyly ignoring him in class – s much that I think he thought I disliked him. Assuming that he liked me when he messaged me on Facebook just to chat. Talking loudly, acting confused about a math problem that I clearly knew how to do, just so V would hear and volunteer his help.
A myriad of other guys, obsessions with whom were hidden from them, from everyone. What was I even doing freshman year.
Nothing. Nothing. Too immature for anything to happen, too mundane to be remembered. The shedding of EMC curled around my feet; paralysis came from envy.
ML. My goodness. Yes, I did. I remember casually sitting in a spot that was sort of on the way out of my last class (but, you know…30 minutes after my last class had ended), just because I knew that he would walk by that spot and sometimes say hi to me. I remember my heart filling with joy when his friend insinuated, during the frikin’ goodbye, that ML had liked me. I remember the breathes I held, waiting for him to respond on Facebook messenger, and the wonderful butterflies when he did, when he said of course he would always respond. I remember pushing so hard until he finally told me he liked me.
SNK C. I led him on. I know that now. I led him on under the pretense that I hadn’t known his feelings, while really – I’d known his feelings. Maybe not directly, maybe not for sure, but goddamn it, I was not the oblivious, guilt-free idiot I pretended to be.
WB. Out of reach, perfect; he was nothing but an object for me to resent as part of EMC’s perfect life. And then he borrowed my flute. Guard your heart, I said. He asks for a flute, and all he wants is a flute. I was successful. And then: come with me to this dinner, he calls me last minute. Last minute. Really. But: Let yourself make friends, I said. Let yourself be open to people. I went. We talked. But: guard your heart, I said. There’s no way he’s into you. Him tossing me a grapefruit across the room. Casually ignoring him – I would not like him more than he liked me. Waiting for the nightly text, what I now know was nothing but an excuse to talk to me. And then: so many people asking about us. I laughed. No way, he’s just a friend. It started so early, was so consistent that my answer became automatic, expected, from my lips. Our state became frozen in time, my head became a ball of too much thinking, and when he drifted away the fall of the next year, I let him.
KD. I led him on as well, and this time, I was fully aware of it. I think there was a sort of power in it. I wanted a boyfriend, I didn’t want him as a boyfriend, but the acts of interest were tempting enough that I let me him keep doing them. I grew somewhat attached to these random affirmations that I was desirable, and that was what I missed when he moved on.
MF. Short-lived, summer dreams. What an idiot, and at the same time, those eyes, those fingers.
And WB. Always WB. Friend life overlapping with romantic, and all from afar.
AYl. It started with a fascination, then a disbelief, then butterflies that wanted more. He took a multitude of my firsts without even knowing it. Summer brought us together and fall took us apart. He was too above me. He was too above me for me to treat casually, to ever let my guard down completely. He was the boyfriend that we didn’t acknowledge; he was the guilt-trip that I never truly felt, 3000 miles away.
JKm. Finally confident enough to acknowledge a pursuit. Thanks to AYl, experienced enough to have a foothold. Thanks to everyone else, secure enough to be vulnerable, to allow myself to respond. I am happy with where I am.