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.

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Snapshot

Relationships blowing up and developing and straining and fading. Complicated feelings. Long talks in dark cars with JH. Crawling up to AYl and kissing sideways as he lies down. His smiling eyes. “You’re distracting me,” cuddling on the couch. Saturn and Hercules. Mosquito bites. Borges.

Packing and moving and screaming and crying. Phone calls and my shaky voice on the floor of the garage in fluorescent lights.

Goat cheese and cherry jam and bread and over easy eggs. Spending way too much on gas. Still Growing Up. I’ll Live. Life advice from postdocs.

When EMC and WB and I collide

Oh, goodness.

I guess, if you’ve been following my influential relationships for the past few years, you would be well acquainted with the roller coaster that is EMC, and the rocky road that is WB.

EMC dropped a huge text bomb on me, just as I had come to terms with the relationship. She acknowledged the troubles we had (the most recent ones – the tail end of senior year) and oh gosh, I don’t know.

I guess we just had too many classes together senior year to keep ignoring each other. So I tried. I tried to have her back in my life. But she’d moved on, and was too close with too many of my mutual friends, without actually being friends with me, and it hurt too much – I pulled back. To avoid getting hurt, I guess. Too late. I got hurt anyway.

I called her, and we talked. Don’t get me wrong – nothing’s fixed. It’s just out in the open now.

“So…what now?” I asked.

We don’t know. We won’t be friends, I don’t think. I don’t know how I feel about having talked about it. On one hand, hearing it come from her – that she’d noticed – that helped. At least it affected her, in some way. In an unhealthy sort of comfort, it was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one caring and being hurt by this relationship.

On the other hand, it re-opened a wound that had just closed. I’d finally moved on. I’d finally started building relationships and circles sans EMC; I’d finally come to be at peace that we were separate. That’s dashed to bits, now.

Now, WB.

We had a rocky relationship through senior year, as well. Come to think of it, I was very much alone this year partly because I’d leaned on WB so much before, and having that disappear was like falling into nothing. It was EMC from freshman year, all over again.

We’d fixed it, WB and I. Talked it through, completely, and worked things out.

And then he goes and tells EMC about it.

I don’t know.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic. But the thought of WB talking to EMC, the one person with whom I’m tense with, about me, and about the relationship between WB and EMC…it just hit such a sensitive chord for me. When I’d worked things out with WB – that had been so hard for me. I’d told him everything – all the insecurities that got in the way, all the problems; I’d made myself completely vulnerable to him. And to have him sit over lunch with EMC and casually talk, and sit there and discuss me to her, the most private and dark and hidden part of me, just hit me so hard.

WB, what I told you was private. I trusted you.

You blew it.

An Update on the Relationships I’ve Forgotten About

I guess when people fade out of your life, sometimes it’s seamless.

YM. We hung out solo a few times, and saw each other in group settings, and then both of our attendances to the group settings got spotty, and we kind of didn’t talk to each other in the group, anyway. I haven’t seen or heard from him in a month. This really should tear me up, but I’ve kind of accepted that YM is a man-flirt and the special connection I thought I had with him was something that he simulates with absolutely everyone. That time we spontaneously stayed up talking until 3am? He’s done that with at least three other people.

EMC. Senior year, she was at the point at which she didn’t really want to be friends with me, but we had too many mutual friends and classes together to hate each other. Our relationship was more “Hey! Can you take a picture of [group of friends that I’m also clearly friends with] us? Thanks.” Which, honestly, would have been ok, I guess, except that we just have too much history for that to be ok. Since summer started, I haven’t seen her at all. I intensely dislike attending church functions because I know she’ll be there. It’s much better this way.

KD. There’s not even anything to say here. We stopped being friends the moment he got a girlfriend back in December, and I feel completely used because apparently all I was was a potential girlfriend to him. That’s time invested in a person, all gone to shit.

Snapshot

Pentatonix Christmas songs. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Aspiring to my sodding take on Carol of the Bells.

Too much Buzzfeed.

Comforting AD about Pakistan. Burnt cookies from EMC.

No friends. Where to go at lunch? Empty. Off-campus. Actually talking to ED. Getting ignored by WB and being absolutely sick of it.

Shooting stars with KD and YM.

Hamlet:

“What is this quintessence of dust?” (2.2.332)

“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” (2.2.273-275)

“I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” (2.2.401-402)

“Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars’ shadows.” (2.2.282-284)

EMC

EMC.

So much angst. So much anger and thoughts and dreams wasted over her.

Need some reminders? My unofficial best friend, freshman year. I trusted her, put so much into that friendship, made myself so vulnerable, all for the first time, because of course I had (have) trust issues.

And then she wasn’t.

It just…ended. She stopped greeting me. She stopped laughing at my jokes. She acknowledging me. She dropped her eyes away when it was time to pick partners, and she was out the door for lunch before I could pack up my stuff.

I think I held on for a while. But eventually, you got the message, you know?

I never knew why, really. And as time went on, I forgot the details. Had we just grown apart, a natural slide away? Or had we fought?

Anyway. Sophomore year was just me, being hopelessly sad and jealous and over-analytic. I would see her being happy and be so angry, like she didn’t deserve to be happy. I would watch her go on with her happy little perfect life, being cute and nice to everyone but me. I didn’t wish her well, at all. I went through phases of being envious of her and pointing out all her flaws, telling myself how much better I was.

I avoided her all junior year, got on with my life, had a blast.

And then, senior year. I remember going to all my classes, my heart sinking as I discovered that she shared four out of six classes with me.

With mutual friends galore and a similar intelligence level, we inevitably had to talk. Which we did. And we got it to a pretty happy surface-y level.

Ok, new stuff now.

She gave me a ride home from church the other day – just her and I, in the car, listening to reflective music. And she opened up about her not-perfect (but, ok, near-perfect) home life.

And as I got out of the car, right before I closed the door, I stopped. I turned around and poked down and just asked. I asked why we stopped being friends.

And she looked shocked. “Do you not know?” she said.

I didn’t.

She sighed. “Get in,” she said.

I did so.

And she talked.

Our friendship had been so competitive. She hadn’t liked the vibe.

And that was it.

Wait….what?

She hadn’t liked the vibe. So she ended it. Did she know that she pushed me into depression? Did she know that I needed her? Did she know that she was half the reason I question religion? Did she know that she made my life miserable? Did she know that what she did left me friendless and walled off to others for two years?

Does she even know now?

I left her car happy for the closure. I’d somewhat forgiven her a while ago (or, at least, I’d stopped wishing that she’d fail).

But with thinking, I grew angry. She has no idea. She doesn’t know what she did – to her, the friendship wasn’t beneficial, so she ended it. Like an app she didn’t use anymore: delete, gone.

She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know.

I’d moved on. I’m trying to re-forgive her. I’m trying.

Re-Entering Band

Well.

After going through random periods of ups and downs, confidence and absolute discouragement, today was the day of the band banquet.

First of all, I almost didn’t go at all. I simply didn’t want to spend a night of awkwardness with people I barely knew. 

That was extremely idiotic, though, because I had already known that I would be applying for section leader, and to get any leadership position, you’ve gotta be at the banquet.

So there I was, yesterday, pathetically begging the organizer to let me pay at the door.

I showed up in sneakers and a short miniskirt. People were wearing gowns and platforms.

I sat awkwardly not next to JS, KM, SG, or EMC (people still think we are friends). I ate. I talked, I laughed, I socialized.

When the director gave her speech, she talked about the importance of commitment and dedication.

See, that was the difference between me and SNK C. Yeah, I’m tons better at flute. I get more respect from my peers, and I’m more outgoing. But I’m flakey (at least when it comes to band). Not always necessarily my fault, but somehow I was always late, or missing something, or confused…While for SNK C, well, band was and is his life. He goes to every event 15 minutes early, completely prepared. 

But he isn’t SNK for nothing. He’s not quite bad with people, but he’s perpetually awkward and insecure. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a total nice guy. But he’s a pushover, and he stands on the sidelines.

And I guess that’s what got me section leader.

I must say, when PGF WB came up to congratulate me and hugged me so tight he lifted me off the ground, I was just a little surprised.

Another one for the win.