and suddenly everything is less shiny
RK is late to meeting you in the park and you think about how your friendship lately has been one-sided, how maybe a lot of your friendships are one-sided. You haven’t made friends here. You blame it on the city; the city is tough. RK says it’s the real world, oblivious.
HJ finally responds again and he tells you about how his friend came and visited out of the blue. He writes his friend’s name in all-caps. You look at that and think, is he ever that excited to see you? You aren’t so sure. You aren’t so sure why he likes you in the first place. You remember talking with him the other day when he got suddenly quiet and bothered. When you addressed it, he told you he sometimes felt less intelligent than you. You were so surprised at how ridiculous the notion that you were more intelligent/cultured/thoughtful than him that you didn’t have an appropriate response. You felt something like relief when he said that then, but now you wonder if you’re pretentious, trying too hard. Are you making him feel small? Is that the terrible insecure-you poking out, the one you don’t like and that seems to be what drives all your close friends away eventually?
His vacation dates change, he has to work on a project instead of the extremely tentative road trip you’d talked about together. You were ready to change your flight dates around it. You like him more than he does you; you can see it already: the slipping, the ugly self-sabotage.