another part of that conversation

Wait so…but…that first movie was platonic, right?

Oh, yeah, that was totally platonic.

And then what about the second one? Was that platonic?

That was absolutely not platonic.

Ha! I had no idea.

Really? Do you do that with tons of people?

I have guy friends, you know.

I guess.

I was so nervous, you know that? During that second movie. I had such a big crush on you.

Really?

Yes! You made me nervous. You make me nervous.

I make you nervous? Still?

Yeah.

Aww.

Yeah.

Oh wait, that’s right. I could totally tell. That’s how I knew, after that second movie, that things weren’t platonic.

Yeah?

Yeah! I sensed that you were nervous, and I was so confused. Like, why is he nervous? And then it made so much sense.

Ha! Yeah.

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If I Was Honest About Who I’ve Had A Crush On

FRESHMAN

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.

SOPHOMORE 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.

JUNIOR

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.

SENIOR

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.

COLLEGE

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.

JKm, I’m so sorry I take it back

Remember when I was sad/angry that JKm saw me as a burden when I was sick? FALSE.

Apparently, he’d spent the afternoon running around and asking his friends for my favorite type of tea (that he dislikes, by the way), and borrowing a kettle. How adorable is that?

He asks how he can tweak his facial hair to my liking. He cares so much about what I think about his friends. He got so frustrated when we couldn’t have his room. He wanted to wait in the same line at the cafeteria instead of just putting our stuff down and splitting up. He gave me his favorite pull-over and scarf. He really wants to spend time with me. He gives me eskimo kisses. His favorite make out move is when I brush his face, which is the most sweet and innocent thing I can imagine. He holds my hand. He cuddles with me while we dance. He kisses me on the forehead. He worries about impressing me. He confessed that he agonized for 3 weeks about sending me the right texts and snapchats.

“I’m sure you could convince me to do anything.”

He chose me over his friends. He walked to the dance alone to meet me when his friends were being slow. He walked to the sports house party alone to meet me when his friends wanted to go somewhere else.

He introduces me as ‘my girlfriend’ to all of his friends so eagerly. And they all already know about me, or have heard ‘so much’ about me, and they always having this knowing smile.

Is all this normal boyfriend stuff? Or am I just insanely lucky?

I’m an idiot

WH just told me he likes me.

Literally straightened my love life out less than a week ago.

But more importantly, WH. I can’t believe what I put him through. I told him all my boy problems; I literally texted him a live stream of me trying to a let a guy down easily. I asked him for advice on how to let this guy down easily. I invited him to a concert, then invited JKm, and that’s how he found out that I had a thing with JKm. I left the group at the dance to be with JKm; I introduced JKm to WH; I made out with JKm within eyesight of WH.

I should have known. He was so quiet when I told him, so unlike nonchalant AM. He was quiet, and serious, and distant, and yet so personally let down.

I remember regretting that I’d told him; I remember feeling subtly pushed away by WH after. What did I tell AM? “I told WH my boy problems, and I think it changed his opinion of me for the worse.”

I remember feeling like he was distant. Not happy to see me anymore. I remember panicking – WH was quite possibly my favorite person here; my closest friend. I’d put so much energy into the relationship; what if he was tired of me?

And then, today: things were suddenly better. We energized each other again. What changedI? I asked. That fateful question. The answer was so different from what I expected.

Was it different from what I wanted?

I don’t know. WH. Feelings for WH? I think I did. I remember meeting him and thinking to myself that I would never date him. But his personality, and his laugh, and his kindness. And everything was so easy, so natural with him. WH. And eventually I told myself I would never date him for another reason – I don’t want to lose him.

I’m with JKm now. I would be an idiot to throw that away. I would be an idiot to further complicate my life. I would be selfish to get WH wrapped up in this.

He asked for space. I can give him space. But already, it’s affecting me. My friend. He’s my friend. I can give a friend space.

Ambiguous Milestones

A first boyfriend. That’s a milestone, right?

But it’s funny, because although JKm is sort of my first boyfriend, I’m not sure.

And now that I think about it, it’s not even entirely because of AYl. Yes, AYl was my first kiss, and the first relationship I had that I defined as a ‘thing’.

But before the ‘thing’, my love life was defined by a series pseudo-relationships – deep connections minus the physical. Butterflies without contact. Before AYl was WB, and before WB was KD, and before KD was WB again. We texted, we hung out, we told each other everything. And when we had our pseudo-breakup, it hurt just as much.

By AYl, I was already emotionally mature when it came to relationships.

So my first boyfriend? It doesn’t feel like my first time.

FF, Re-impression

I guess I was wrong about FF.

Not the facts. The facts were right. But the nuances – I was wrong.

Saw him show up to class today, but he sat in the back and left without us talking. I was kind of disappointed.

Dinner. I stop by the cafeteria on my way to my dorm, fully intending on taking out food and doing homework.

“Hey, [my name], right?”

I turn, see FF. I’m a bit caught off guard, so I semi-pretend to struggle to recognize him before I let recognition flash across my face. “FF!” I smile.

“Are you taking out?” He looks at the container in my hand.

“I…” I look at his plate. “I…yeah. I am.”

“You should eat here.”

“Should I?”

“Yeah. I’m sitting out there.”

Indecision, before my desire to get to know FF wins out.

“Fine, but only because the grass is wet outside.”

We sit, start talking. He talks, for the most part. He’s high. He directs the conversation towards me, but I deflect it right back. He’s the interesting one, here.

How was I wrong? I guess…he does go to class. He appreciates school. He’s very intellectual, and thoughtful, and kind. He remembers and values people. He references black 20th century black intellectuals and novelists.

I hang out at his place for 20 minutes or so before rushing off to class. He was planning on studying, but didn’t, I guess because he was entertaining me. We sit on his bed, comfortable, casual. He plays a few YouTube videos of said black intellectuals before I tear myself away for the sake of my grades.

“I think you should stay,” he says.

I want to stay. But I head out.

JS and Being Confrontational

I sat there doing homework, the message sitting in my inbox. I let myself forget about it. I kept him waiting, like he kept me waiting. I realized how immature that was, and, in one sweep, opened it. Stared. Read it. Started typing. Stopped. Put it away. Opened it again. I debated acting chill. No problem haha 🙂. Or maybe, You’re an asshole.

I go in between.

I wish I knew that the plans were changed, I wrote. I let him know I was disappointed.That he’d semi-blew it. I gave him a chance to apologize. I typed that and sent it in one sweep and put my phone down and away.

He took a bit to respond. But he did.

He’s sorry. He knows he blew it. He wants to hang out tonight, maybe?

I turn him down for tonight, but maybe some other time, I write. He has to work for it. He blew it. But I’ll let him work for it.

Hey! He writes, a few hours later The lunar eclipse is tonight. I should make sure to check it out. I smile. I lean back in my chair, at my desk, in my dorm, and shake my head, laugh, look at the ceiling. Smiling.