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This Unintended Pain

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Boy meets girl. Girl silently pleads for a ride home. Boy comes to the rescue. They find out they live three blocks away from each other. And then they become friends. This is the story of a senior and a sophomore. This is the story of Him and Me. But this isn't going where you think it is. And the ending is only bittersweet.

That sounds dramatic, but then again, reality rarely ever is. We were co-editors on the newspaper. Well, I was an editor of the newspaper; he was my editor-in-chief, my role model, and then my ride home. During those car rides I discovered that if I am anything, I am a great listener. There’s no one better. The secret: it’s all in the details. I became his collegiate confidante, someone with whom to share his dreams. His hidden desire? To get into Harvard, something I think he had trouble admitting at first. But I said all the right things. I listened. I encouraged. Most of all, I believed in him. And I hope that meant something.

On that magical day in December, something amazing happened. He was accepted at the most prestigious school in the United States. This opened up a realm of possibilities, mostly for him but also for me. He proved sometimes the impossible can be achieved. I still think about how happy I am for him and how inspiring he is to me. And I still ignore the diminishing number of days left of this rare and unlikely friendship. It is just too easy to be blind.

Youth should be a gift, but instead it is my curse. I am forced to stay behind and to watch him leave. I can never make up for those seventeen months that separate us. I see the mocking irony that he became my friend because of college and that he will desert me for it. He was supposed to be a big brother who could give me advice, and at the same time a friend who I could always count on. But he can't be those things. It was my mistake, really. I couldn't decide which I wanted more, so I tried to make him both. Now I am left with a relationship that can be classified as neither, a relationship that falls somewhere in the crazy place between, a little bit of both, but not strong enough to be called either. I don't even know where I stand with him anymore. In fact, I never knew what he wanted out of this relationship. A friend? A sister? Both? None?

It doesn’t matter if there’s a name for this, for us. Whatever it is, it’s an unbalanced bond. I am all give and very little take. He never asked for another sister, and for that assumption, I am sorry. It is a mistake I have paid for dearly because I care about him more than he will ever care about me. I am replaceable. There are a thousand others who can tell him he is special whereas he has become a rallying point for my hopeless dreams. He has almost everything I want, and I can’t just forget that.

But I am being selfish. This isn’t about me. It was never about me. This is about a boy and his dream come true. This is about his happiness, and I pray that no one takes that away from him. It’s so wrong for me to be sad. How can I feel so simultaneously happy and excited and abandoned? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is where he is supposed to be. I am the one who does not belong. The sophomore among seniors. I don’t want to wait here and watch them go. I don’t deserve this unintended pain. It would be easier not to care. But it’s too late for that, too late for me. He has saved himself with his indifference. And I want him to take it all: my support, my encouragement, my admiration. He deserves it. This hurt is not his fault. I am to blame. I was the naive one. After all, it is just too easy to be blind.

The only thing he owes me is goodbye. I need to hear the hollow contradiction, the not-yet-empty words. Because I’m scared. I’m frightened that he won’t need or want me anymore. I’m afraid that once he gets on that plane, he’s gone forever. And mostly, I’m terrified of the truth:

I am just too ordinary to have left a permanent mark on you, my surrogate big brother, my Harvard golden boy. And now I am out of time. Forgive me, brother. I should have known.

Boy leaves girl. There is no other way.



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