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You and I
Author's note: This issue seems to come up in high school all the time. There isn't a day when a friend won't talk about his or her issue regarding this topic. Whether they are currently harboring these bittersweet secrets or not, it's a topic that people can relate to.
Everyone else seems to see something else. Everyone else seems to notice that there’s something more. Everyone else can’t help but ask for the truth. But in response they get the same old answer, “We’re just good friends.” Typical? Sure, these things happen. Then it comes to the point where you become convinced that perhaps there is something more. But what do you do then? Potentially ruin your friendship? Seek for something greater? Maybe just do nothing? How could I just do nothing? It seemed that with each day a growing passion arose in me. It seemed that each day he went un-noticed of the fact that I had something I was dying to tell him. But somehow I could see in his eyes that he knew something, but I didn’t know what.
Yes we shared secrets with one another. But neither of us seemed to deeply touch on the “love” topic. He had asked me a few times, but I was careful to answer in a twisted manner that would ultimately leave him no answer. And when I would ask him, he would seem to answer the same way I would answer him. That was when I became suspicious. Was he hiding something? Was there some hope? But with time it seemed that his answers would only leave me confused.
He had said he’d call me and message me and he had said how dearly he wanted to hang out. He had said he didn’t want to lose touch over the summer. He had said how he didn’t want to wait until fall, when school would open again, to catch up with me.
Now it’s summer. Well, it’s really the beginning of summer. June is near ending, and July will begin. We’ve talked only twice. The first time, we ended up playing a game that seemed to absorb the world’s truth like a sponge. And it was at that time that we both became a little…mushy and gushy. I blame him for it though. But it was nonetheless all bittersweet. Bittersweet because I felt like we were both harboring something so deep, but at the same time we were sharing beautiful moments and facts. And that was the beauty of us, that we could create all these moments, all these good times. I had known him for quite a few years. I had seen him go from a little squirt to someone sensitive and so much taller than I am. The second time, we talked briefly, about little siblings. I have none. So I told him how I wanted one because I wanted someone to look up to me and love me for loving them. He said that that was so sweet of me. He said how adorable it was that I was a family type. Then he had to go, and I had to go, and that’s where it seemed to end.
I find it rather peculiar. Summer’s only begun, and something inside of me is burning, raging, steaming. I just want him to talk to me again. I want him to call me again. I want him to ask me to hang out with him again, so we can catch up on whatever it is we missed. I find myself in an awkward position, kind of like this squirrel that can never seem to climb the oak tree in front of my house successfully, much less reach for the nut that he’s being trying to get for so long. It’s funny because unlike the other squirrels, he could just dig in the ground, but he never does. He just barely climbs the oak tree and then tries to reach for the nut with his little gray and white paw. Sometimes he even gets pretty close to the nut. One time I even rooted for him in my head, his claw nearly touched the nut. But then he lost balance, yet he was able to catch himself. He had landed on all four, but he just left the nut. Two days later, this same squirrel was digging in the ground for nuts. He had given up.
July had rolled in. My summer days seemed to comprise of me doing packets and packets of summer work, hanging out and talking with buddies, going here and there with family, and doing just nothing. Three and a half weeks had passed. He hadn’t called. He hadn’t messaged. He hadn’t even chatted me. I would walk through town, spending time with my friends or hanging with family, but it seemed I was distancing away. I couldn’t help myself but try to find him. Where was he? Is something trying to pull us apart? Then there were times when I felt selfish. He has a life too. He has a family too. He has his guy friends too. Then I started to wonder, was he waiting for me to call him? I had said I would call him during the summer and that we would chat about stuff. But I hadn’t called him at all. For the two times, he was the one who called me or messaged me. I had absolutely no idea of what to do.
It became worse every night. Every night, the same conversations that we had had, replayed in my mind. I couldn’t dream anymore because I couldn’t stop thinking about what he had said a few months ago.
It had all started because we were playing a pathetic yet fun little game of “would you rather.” But “would you rather” turned into some game where we started spilling our secrets. Where I ended up blurting out every little bit, every little thing I felt for him. And that’s when it was all revealed. After that he knew that I had started admiring him. After that he told me how he was falling for me but he had given up on me. And that was when it felt like the walls beside me were crumbling down on me. My heart raced faster and faster. Why hadn’t I noticed? Why hadn’t he ever told me? We had always promised to tell each other if anything was bothering us, if we had anything we needed to release. And of all the things we had told each other, he couldn’t manage to tell me that? Where was this all coming from? But just as this was all said and done with, it was also over just then. Somehow, for some reason, confusion and doubt overbore us. He told me how confused he was, he told me he needed some time to figure out and choose. Choose what? Choose between me and someone else? Choose between friendship or infatuation? I became enraged. I was hurt, just at that simple statement. Then and there, I told him with a happy tone in my voice, “Let’s just go back to being good friends. I miss having you tell me who your latest fling is.” And he said, “ok.” Ok. One word. Two letters. Ok. It ended everything. It brought us to a closure, and yet it didn’t.
After a few weeks, we finally go over being all awkward, I had tried my best to make sure we were back to being as we were. Finally after weeks he and I were back to being the way we used to be. We laughed again, shared hilarious jokes about every little fruit, we shared stories, we talked about our day. And this brings me back to the time when he asked me: “Do you like anyone?” I remained silent. I didn’t know how to respond. That one little question, brought back memories of all the good times we’ve had. But that one little question seemed to bring back old feelings that I had tried to convince myself had disappeared. But they never had. They were always there. I guess with the sense of the silence he quickly added, “you don’t have to tell me if you feel uncomfortable about it.” That made me feel better. So I merely told him that I was “unsure” and that I wanted to be “sure” about how I felt. I didn’t name names, I didn’t give the assurance of me liking anyone. But that one tiny question did one thing very well. I was overwhelmed by his question. He likes me, I thought to myself. But how could he? Especially after last time. Then again, last time, we hadn’t really come to a conclusion. It just…ended. The nighttime killed me. When I closed my eyes I ended up reliving each moment we spent together. I realized how beautiful we are together. Even just as good friends. But even just as good friends, I could see that how we walked when we were together had a special closeness to it. I could see the extra twinkles in his eyes. And I could feel my heart beating excessively. But overall I could hear the tones in our voices, and the laughing, oh so much laughing.
At that point, I was convinced he liked me. But was I? I kept spilling my heartfelt emotions to my friends, and they analyzed each detail I shared with them. They had come to conclude that he liked me too. Well, they had concluded from the apparent “symptoms”.
Mid of August strolled in. In the mail, we had all gotten letters and schedules. We were given what classes we had, and who our teachers would be, and when we would have those classes. It was a rather jittery time for all of us. It was full of emotion. Would we be in the same classes? Would we have teachers who could actually teach?
In that week, it was all about the usual ritual. Constantly checking emails and our cells. It was call after call, message after message. I was lucky enough to have the majority of my friends to end up as my peers for our second year in high school.
The schedule in my hands for the twentieth time, he called. And like a crazy person, I stared at my phone. I just stared at it, while it vibrated and wiggled on my desk. Unbelievable. He was calling me after about two months or so. Then again, I hadn’t called him anytime either.
“Hey!” I sounded rather too enthusiastic.
“Hey, I haven’t talked to you in so long.”
“Well people get busy during the summer. Family stuff…and stuff.”
“Yeah. Oh my goodness! Read me your schedule!”
I had about 32 credits out of the recommended 30. It took me forever to read it. Because with each class, I could picture him going through his schedule and shaking his head.
“Well we don’t have all our classes together.”
“Well isn’t that a bit obvious?”
“But…we have math, science and gym together!” That was good enough for me. That was more than good enough for me. That was superb for me! That was splendid for me! So there was some hope.
“This is great!”
“Yeah! It really is. I’m so glad we have more classes together than last year.”
“Yeah me too.” He laughed.
“When we’re in a class together, it always makes the class more fun. But I have to say, we do add influential ideas into the discussions.”
“Yes, that we do indeed.” I laughed. He laughed.
“So how was your summer?”
“Eh, not too bad. It was actually great.”
“Oh really now?”
“What you do?”
“Went here and there.”
“Yeah, how about you?”
“Me? Um…I went here and there too. Finished up all that summer work though.”
“I still haven’t finished.”
“Well you should.”
“Geez, you sound like my mother.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
After that we talked nearly every single day. It was all really school related. More like me helping him out with the summer work. We ended up playing a few more rounds of that would you rather game before the last day of summer finally arrived.
The last evening of summer was picture perfect. The dragonflies were buzzing everywhere. The sky had become a lush blend of orange and hot pink and royal blue. The sun was diving behind my neighbor’s house. I was out playing badmitton with family friends. Then my pocket started going insane. It was my phone. It was him.
“What are you wearing tomorrow?”
“Well, I did get a couple of new t-shirts and one plaid shirt. So I might mix and match between those. But still wearing jeans.”
“You always wear jeans.”
“I love em.”
“Well I don’t know what to wear tomorrow.”
“Dude, you sound like a girl.”
“Hey, a very manly guy like myself can worry about first day of school clothes too, you know.”
“Well you have been worrying about that kind of stuff since forever.”
“Are you excited?”
“Of course. Sophomore year. No more being called a frosh.”
“Nobody ever called me a frosh. I deceived them.”
“Well, aren’t you lucky. Did you finish all your summer work?”
“Every bit of it. Just this afternoon.”
“That took you a long time.”
“I like to take my time, thank you very much.”
“Can’t believe we’re starting another year of highschool.”
“Yeah, I know, it’s exciting.”
“I wonder what new adventures we might go through next.”
“If you mean love…then I’m not going through any of it.”
“By the way, have you wondered what might have become of us?”
“Well here we are, you and me, on the phone. It’s as good as it gets.” I couldn’t understand. I wanted to tell him. Yes, I have thought about it. In fact I spent my entire summer thinking about it. Where was my serious tone? What on earth?
“I guess so. Well. I hope you wear something blue tomorrow. We can coordinate.”
“See ya tomorrow!”
The first few weeks of school passed. It was wonderful. I was with my friends, I was with him. We were all happy and wonderful. It was a great time. All those feelings of doubt I had in my head all summer, had disappeared.
Then the sophomore welcome dance came around. It was a very casual dance, it was more like to have fun and enjoy ourselves. During certain songs, I had gone off and chilled with some of my other friends. But through the corner of my eyes, I knew where my mind was set. It was set on him. And from those same eyes, I saw him laughing and dancing and going crazy. He had a friend with him too.
I couldn’t tell if I was jealous. I couldn’t understand what I was feeling. I didn’t know how I would react to what was about to come at me. But during other songs, we danced together. We had more great moments to add to our list of good times. And then all my other thoughts had just drifted away.
Two days had passed since the dance. We were all in math class, but our teacher was absent that day. Of course, our teacher’s absence meant that we would all sit wherever we desired to sit. I sat next to him. He seemed rather excited. He seemed like he was about to burst out in happiness.
“Clearly you have something you want to share.”
“Guess what?!” I recognized this tone in his voice. I knew where this was headed. But I couldn’t believe it.
“What?” I tried my best to match his tone
“Okay, so remember that dance we had two days ago. Well this girl and I danced to one of the songs. It was really great. And I think she really likes me. I think I’m going to make my move.” I hated it. I hated how he had to end what he had to say. It meant that I would have to answer him. I wasn’t given enough time to answer him. How would I answer him.
I didn’t want to answer him. I was devastated. I was disappointed. Talk about major leading on. Everything was on the line here. A friendship of many years. A trust. A future.
So I didn’t answer him. Instead I started working on proving a geometry problem. To make myself look busy, I asked my friend to the left of me, how she proved the problem. She looked at me, and she said that she couldn’t prove it, not even with all the theorems. It just wasn’t possible to prove. I tried to hide the embarrassment in my cheeks from what he had told me, by trying to find some theorem to prove the problem. But even I couldn’t prove it. It was impossible.