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Things Left Unsaid
It's now officially Valentine's Day, and just hours ago we held hands and took an enormous leap away from the unpretentious safety of our friendship. We were both filled with a myriad of emotions: fear for the weight of the fall, excitement for the nearing crash, and joviality when we breezed easily to shore, unharmed and surfing on clouds. Now I lay here writing this, occasionally glancing at you.
Often, I have to put down what I'm working on in order to focus on you. You have no idea what you do to me. Or for that matter, anyone and everyone who has gotten to know you; the smell of your hot breath; the delicate way your hair mats to your forehead in an intense moment of heat, a wondrous mixture of silk and sweat; the way your smile hypnotizes those who dare be captured in their gaze. You probably have no idea. I know you have no idea.
Just now, I brushed hair away from your face, careful not to wake you. You sighed contentedly, and I couldn't contain the grin that spread across my face. Our life together has been defined by secret moments, countless movie nights and inside jokes, yearly discoveries, and most importantly; stupidity.
I'm quite possibly the biggest idiot I know. In order to make up for my lack of brains, I write you this letter, letting you know just how much our little moments meant to me. You know that I've always believed actions speak louder than words. Words can be faulty, twisting to mean anything the mind wants. But here now, I think words matter. Especially the words I've never said. I don't want you to think that last night was just a fluke, when in reality it was the most miraculous occurrence of my life. And because I know you'll ask, I don't regret it. I only regret waiting, and not letting you know how I felt, when you're all I see in a crowd of millions of people. I've always said I don't have your way with words; you've always told that I do when it matters. So here goes nothing and everything.
We met on the first day of kindergarten, opposites attracting like a bug to the light that would be its death. You were that light; bright and resilient, mischievous and always willing to share your happiness. I was curious and more withdrawn, flying to anyone whose strength I admired. We were a perfect match.
Our friendship grew from there, as quick as a supernova explosion, still as powerful. You were that 'go-to-guy,' the one that made light of any situation, always with an outstretched arm and comforting words; ready to lend a helping hand. I was that guy who needed to be told he was important, needed to feel he belonged somewhere.
When we were in the second grade, you were developing your talent for art, and I always asked if you'd mind my company. You always said no, and I always felt blessed. We'd sit on the paper covered floor in your room, music cascading through open air. You'd close your eyes, still as a statue and brush held firmly in hand.
Time passed unhurriedly, as if it too wanted to stay locked in that one moment. Soon, your eyes would open and you'd come to life, brush dipping into color after color. It became almost like a dance. Dip, paint, dip, paint...I found myself dancing along, colors swirling to become some uninhabited creature. When you finished, you'd stand up and look at the painting from all angles: sideways, upside down, right-side-up.
Finally, you'd turn to me satisfied; brown eyes shining golden; a smile so wide, so crooked, so beautiful, and so absolutely you, dimples patted shapely into each cheek. "All done," you'd say. It never failed to make my day complete and my head spin.
At age twelve, you were the guy who would stand up for anyone; short, tall, fat, zits covering every corner, or books and glasses part of their overall appearance. For that alone, people began to see you as an outsider (backwards from most situations). I stood by your side anyway, because to me, you were worth it.
Do you remember that wanna-be tough guy that always used to pick on us? He was obnoxious; a conceited jerk who was the tormentor of most bullied victims. One day, he was picking on a thin, sickly kid with glasses and high waters. You shoved him away, anger tickling your features, and politely told him to go f*** himself. He spit in your face before telling you that 'fairies like yourself' should go burn in hell. He stalked away, looking as engaging as a riled up porcupine. You stood there triumphant.
The next day, you came to school dressed in multiple headbands, a frilly skirt, and a silky blouse, outfit complete with go-go boots. You walked straight up to him; looked him dead in the eyes and near screamed: "Hello, boyfriend! Would you care to come over today for some tea and biscuits? I'd be delighted if you could catch me up on the latest trends!"
I ran over quick and pulled you away from Jeff, his balled up fists, and his red face. When the distance felt enough, we stopped and rolled over in tears and laughter. It became a pattern; laughing and wiping away our tears before bursting into more simultaneous laughter. Truth be told, I wanted to yell at you and your natural impulsiveness. Unfortunately, all I saw was you, your headbands, and your heart-racing spirit, your face lit up. I could only shake my head, pull you into a tight embrace, and kiss the side of your face for at least remaining in one piece.
You were a force to be reckoned with.
At age thirteen, you were everything I couldn't be. You were dauntless and self-assured in a way that made people like me afraid. This year was marked by playful bridges being built, steady until tested; swinging between safe and precarious. I remember this year as completely nonsensical yet meaningful, flowered by chasing each other through empty woods, rolling down grassy fields, pulling grass out of your hair and replacing it with a daisy, and finding sticky notes hidden in the most unexpected places; ranging from my cabinet to the milk in my fridge, to my locker. Sometimes they made sense ("I miss you like Allie missed Noah") and sometimes they were small fractions of something larger ("French fries or mushrooms?"). Sometimes you drew pictures that could easily pass for chicken scratch, but were undeniably you all the same (you+me=happy, me-you=miserable).
This was the first year I saw you. We were bumming at the beach, all tangles of legs and hair and clasped fingers. I looked at you, and for the first time ever, I saw you as more than just my best friend. I saw you as a boy working his way into manhood, heard your voice changing deeper, cracking often but still unyielding. I saw beauty; pure and unblemished beauty. Golden legs, strong and muscular, brown eyes splashed with dots of green emeralds; silky blond strands of hair falling slightly over them. I was able to brush it aside as a simple trick of light. Anyone could look celestial in luminous light, right?
I became a nervous wreck around you, tripping over words, losing track of time and voices passing around me. I blushed with every soft word you whispered, every electrifying caress. You had asked me point blank how I felt, but I shook my head, a loud and awkward laugh escaping my lips. "Are you kidding me?" I asked before turning around, purposely ignoring the way your heart broke in your eyes, piece by piece exploding until all that was left was the shell of you. "Oh..." you had muttered quietly.
That wasn't the last time you asked me. The question came at odd times; when we were cuddling on the couch, after food fights in your kitchen, late at night at my house. I knew what you wanted me to say, but I always denied, turning away so my red face stayed hidden. I wasn't strong enough then to handle the consequences if I said yes. At the same time, I wasn't strong enough to handle how crestfallen you always looked. Our relationship became strained, and in order to save it, you stopped asking. I never stopped feeling.
I saw you again at 16; you on the brink of turning 16. You were exploring your sexuality, searching for a soul mate. I could only watch you, trying to keep my emotions in check. The thing was, I could control my emotions around everyone except the one person who knew me inside and out. Because of that, the year was spent mostly apart; you dating around, and me joining every club in order to forget and stop missing you. It didn't work, and it still wouldn't, because I could never forget you.
The time we did spend together was precious to me, proof of that all the secret pictures I took when you weren't looking. That year, I gave you a picture of us for your birthday, the frame engraved with the words You and Me. You started crying, seeing it as symbolic; a recreation of our friendship. You and me, unstoppable against everything and everyone. There was hope in your eyes. Hope that we could survive whatever was pulling on the threads of our relationship. I chose to see it simply as it was. You and me. I gave you the only copy I had of that picture, but I wish I had another copy. It wasn't just you and me. It was YOU and ME, the two of us in it together for the long haul, there for each other no matter what.
Age eighteen was a year sprinkled with fire and heated arguments. You were notoriously known for being a great--how do I say it eloquently? A "great f***." It both intrigued me and burned my insides. I nearly punched every guy who had the guts to brag about you like some trophy.
Do you remember that day? You were at my house, the two of us in the midst of one of our frequent 'creative discussions.' We both screamed things we didn't mean; you calling me an arrogant, selfish a**hole, me calling you a naive, b***** s***. Your eyes drowned in water, filling like a dam before dropping, each piece breaking you more. You spit out how much you hated me and that I should go f*** myself before running out, door slamming behind you. I spent the next few hours walking around my house, burning off steam before I felt ready to talk to you. I practically ran the two mile distance to your house, arriving a sweaty mess. I barged in, barely noting the unlocked door and found you upstairs; tossing your lunch in your toilet. A few beer bottles were tossed carelessly aside. I rubbed the small of your back, kissing your head gently.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
You shook your head, before retching into the toilet again. "No," you whispered feebly.
"Will you be okay?"
"...Not if you leave."
My last strand of control broke at that, and soon I was full out sobbing, the words "I'm sorry" whispered repeatedly. And then you were crying along with me, a mess of puke and tears. We held each other, rocking back and forth. Even then, at that time, I noted how our bodies seemingly molded together, like missing puzzle pieces.
"It hurts..." you mumbled into my chest, small fingers grasping the bottom of my shirt.
"I know," I answered.
"I can't breath," you choked out.
"I know," I responded, planting a kiss on your head.
"I think I'm gonna be sick," you cried.
I said nothing, holding you tighter, as if the very fate of our world depended on it. I have no idea how long we sat there, only the sounds of our breathing and the occasional sob penetrating the silence.
"Adam...I love you," you murmured after some time, sleep slowly squirming its way into your eyes. "I always have..."
With those words, I felt like I was dreaming and tumbling downwards, my only savior you. My hold on you tightened as my tears fell more and more, endless gravity. I didn't bother to wipe them, rendered speechless. I looked at you; eyes shut lightly, heart on your sleeve.
"...I know." I whispered.
Every year since that moment was braided with happiness and nightly confessions; dreams and fears coming alive. I came to know you and all your strange little mannerisms. The way you go shopping for toilet paper, yet come back with four boxes of Fruit Loops, the way the wash always eats one of your socks, the way you eat Oreos in bed, licking each side. The way you always accidentally-on-purpose wear my shirts to bed, the way you leave books everywhere, including the bathroom. The way you leave sticky notes on the fridge and television. The fact that you dance around the house naked when you think I'm not home. The fact that you always make me snacks when I'm working or studying heavily. The fact that you become an endless talker when you drink too much coffee, babbling on and on until you finally crash, snoring ever-so-lightly.
All of these habits make up a part of you.
I met you last night as someone I could spend the rest of my life with. You were brave and honest, diving headfirst into something that won't easily be brushed aside as a spur of the moment. I hope you understand that last night, you proved to me why I would give anything to make you happy. That you're probably the most amazing person I'll ever meet, giving me relentless strength, when we both know I'm not that strong. Not like you. I want you to know that I've kept every single sticky note you've ever given me, hidden away with pictures of you. I hope you now know that I'm willing to give everything I have into this newly found relationship of ours.
But something tells me you know; you've always known.