It was the 8th grade dance. The last slow song. Three of three. My friend was trying to get me to ask the guy I was crazy for to dance. The guy I’ve liked since November, 2014. It was now May, 2016. I was arguing because I was afraid of rejection, but also because for the upcoming play, Pride and Prejudice, I was Elizabeth and he was Darcy. Talk about awkward. I quickly shush her as I see him push off of where he had been leaning against the wall and walk in our direction, probably toward the snack table. I sink back against the wall and look at the floor. I don't see him go past. My friend nudges me, and I look up to see him in front of me, holding out his hand to me with a shy hopeful smile on his face. I find myself smiling back, my heart speeding up and a slow happy feeling spreading through me. I take his hand and glance back at my friend, who looks like all her dreams are coming true and like she’s so high she's going to pass out. I turn back to him and realize what I'm feeling, oxytocin. The hormone that is love. Apt, considering. We make our way to the center of the dancefloor. I see one of my teachers, the guy who match-makes everyone, but he doesn't seem to notice us. His hands go to my waist as mine find his shoulders. Our eyes meet, and he gives a shy smile that I return before his eyes find the floor. I see my friend, who has grabbed my other friend so they can get closer. They look as high as I feel. They both need boyfriends, honestly. Then I spot my other friend, who does have a boyfriend. She’s dancing with him. Surprise surprise, she looks high as well. I am so glad that I have unleashed some sort of drug that only works on me and my close friends, not. I feel like yelling “he asked me!” To her, but I can’t. I have no idea what else to do, so I wink at her before we pass out of sight of each other. I then see the friend that had been telling me to ask him to the dance all week. While play practice was going on. She’s dancing with her brother and doesn’t notice me. I give up. When the song ends, I get really embarrassed and can’t look at him. I walk away blushing into a knot of people who are freaking out. A lot of people tell me how cute we were. When the next song starts I feel like I have an infinite amount of energy. So does he, it seems.
The next Saturday we’re texting and he brings up the dance. He asks me if I thought he was being sincere when he asked me to dance. Terrified he’s going to ask me if I like him, I say yeah. He responds with “I asked because in that moment I think I realized something.” Clueless, I reply with a question mark. His next words make me literally drop my phone. “I think I… like you.” I've imagined this a million ways, and now my dreams are actually coming true. I tell him that I like him, and we talk for what might’ve been hours or maybe just minutes. I feel like I'm the happiest person alive.
We text nearly every day. One day, he stops responding. I hear a rumour that a girl in our class likes him and thinks he likes her back. The next day, when our class has to stay late after school, It’s proved right. All of it. I end up on the other side of the school with the same friend who had been pressuring me to ask him to dance with me. But now she’s listening to me list all of my emotional scars and cry. I've never cried over a guy before, but then again I've never really had anything special with someone. That night I can’t sleep. I get out of bed and grab my phone to use as a flashlight, the only pen I can find, and a notebook. I write him a letter. The pen turns out to have pink ink. Hot pink ink. Ugh. The next day is the first play performance. I only stay until all of it is cleaned up, then I give the letter to a friend to deliver and leave. I feel… empty. On Monday when I walk in the door he’s listening to music with earbuds. When he sees me he walks out the back door. I feel the same way.
Two days later it’s graduation. Our school has a tradition of the 8th graders staying overnight that night. At around 3:00am, he comes up to me and says, “hey Lily, can I talk to you?” I freak out and mumble a stupid excuse. He goes upstairs to watch the movie that’s playing in the loft. A few days later I hear that he was crying up there. He apparently said no one wanted him, yet I had seen him blow off that girl earlier in the night. When I got home I texted him, apologizing for not talking to him.
The next time I see him is at a farewell party for my friend. He still hasn’t texted me back. I lose my phone there, then see him typing something and glancing at me. I'm freaking out. I can’t find my phone.
I don’t get my phone back until Wednesday. I lost it on Sunday. It’s nearly dead when I get it back so I plug it in before unlocking it. Two of my friends are over because we’re going to a hike-in cabin - a backpacking trip of sorts. I stare at the little one next to messages app. I swallow hard, then tap on the app icon. It’s from him. On Monday. It’s so long one could compare it to an essay. Or a letter. My friends are looking at me in concern. Probably because by the time I’ve finished it I have crawled under the keyboard and I’m shrunk into a ball. I look up. My voice sounds a little faint as I say “he replied.” I turn the screen so they can see how epically long it is. The response: “Daamn!” and “wait, did he write all that? Woah.”
It takes me until Friday to reply. My text is almost as long as his was, but I put in that I would rather just have a normal conversation. He replies almost immediately. After we exchange “hey”’s, he says “I have to say I’m lost for words. I’ve been crying for the past five mins.” I feel horrible. I say sorry. We start talking - just talking. We’ve always found each other’s conversation interesting. After a while he says he has a serious topic. I freak and say “ok” but also inform him that it’s kind of making me nervous. He tells me he still likes me and asks me if I could ever want him. I say “Why wouldn’t I want you?” And add that I know that sounds really cheesy. He says that what he did seemed pretty terrible. I tell him I can understand why he did it in the most confusing way possible, then add “that made no sense.” He replies telling me he still likes me and asks me if I still like him. “I don't see myself NOT liking you anytime in the near future.” Is my reply.
Apparently I’m good at saying cheesy things. We talk about maybe getting together sometime in August, like a date. We talk and talk and talk. Eventually I'm so tired I'm about to pass out, and after saying something particularly weird, he says “Lol GO TO SLEEP” which makes it easier for me to do so. I am content, happy, and honestly, I'm in love.