My life hasn’t been the same since I met her. I bet that’s not a new and unique line. In fact, I know it’s not. I’m sure it’s been said countless times before, by countless men. Hell, I’ve said it before. I don’t think a line like that can be improved upon, though. It’s not a particularly insightful statement to make, but it is most definitely an accurate one. I mean I couldn’t even begin to imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn’t met her. Here’s another statement that has nothing remarkable to it. What can I say? I’m not a remarkable person. I am average. Maybe someday in the future I’ll be remarkable, but for now I have to accept mediocrity.
There however, is where the mediocrity of this story ends. She is in no way mediocre. The way we have come to be friends isn’t really mediocre at all, at least I don’t think so. And our friendship has been far from dull. I venture to say, even, the way in which I came to love her is anything but normal. It’s a story that, even now, amazes me. A lifetime has passed, it seems, since I saw her for the first time and so much as happened to make me question myself and everything I know and feel.
What is so amazing to me is that after what felt like such a betrayal, after what seemed like such a trial, I find myself right back where I started. I find myself still loving her. I can’t think of another way to describe or categorize this feeling. I don’t know if it’s what I should feel. I don’t know that anything can come of it. I don’t think anyone has ever made me feel this way. I’m frustrated. I’m happy. I’m confused. I’m worried. I’m nervous. I’m in love. But can I be sure? And should I tell her?
The story begins when I was a junior and she was a freshman in college. Just to give you some idea of how long ago that was, I graduated this past May (2001).
Anyway, there was a party near my apartment that Mike wanted to go to, so we walked over. Mike was one of the first friends I made at Miami. We were in AEPi together and hung out quite a bit. He’s a nice guy and funny. He was even more entertaining when he was drunk. The guy would never turn down free beer, but then, who would?
I wasn’t a big fan of parties and didn’t particularly want to go to this one, but Mike dragged me along. He thought it was good that I get out every once in a while.
I had no idea that party would end up changing the course of the next three years of my life. That party was where I met Katie for the first time. It was a great party, I have to admit. I’m not a big drinker, so I didn’t really get drunk and actually, Mike didn’t either, which was unusual, but as I would come to find out, Katie did.
Instantly, I was attracted to her. Immediately. There has only been one other girl I’ve been so physically attracted to in all my life.
Let me try to paint a picture of Katie for you. She’s not gorgeous. She’s not someone who catches your eye and forces a second glance when you pass her on the street. But don’t get me wrong, she’s still absolutely beautiful. She’s slightly shorter than me, probably somewhere around 5’4”. Thin, but not Kate Moss thin. She has mild red hair, a smile that knocked me over the first time I saw it and a laugh that warms my heart just to think about it. I could go on, but let’s try and stay focused.
As it turns out, she did indeed get quite drunk. While it might have been hard to tell at the party, I was sure she was drunk when she offered Mike and I a threesome. No girl I have ever met would soberly offer to guys a threesome.
In the process of getting drunk, she managed to find some guys to hit on her, which isn’t surprising. She’s beautiful. And while I didn’t approach her during the party, or say something to her until later, I did try and keep track of her as she moved around the party; I was enchanted. Through the course of the evening, every time I’d spot her, another guy would be trying his luck to get her to go home with him. She wasn’t actively flirting with these guys, but she did flirt with them.
This is how it goes with her. She’s a bit of a flirt. This is how it always seemed to be. Maybe my case is no different. Maybe all the things she’d come to do and say didn’t mean anything.
As the party began to wind down, Mike, Katie, and I got to talking. We just chatted. We got to know each other a bit. We were all Jewish and we were all members of Hillel; though she hadn’t been there much. Being the nice guys we were, and seeing as how she was in no condition to get home by herself, Mike and I offered to escort her home.
Mike had parked his car at my apartment and we had walked to the party. We walked back to his car, so he could drive her home.
Mike carried her on his back all the way back to his car. It was quite funny to see, actually. While Mike wasn’t a small guy, by any means, he also wasn’t in very good shape and not very coordinated.
At first, she and Mike hit it off much better than her and I, but that’s just Mike. He’s a people person and was much better at random casual conversation than I was. It wasn’t until a few days later that she and I made a connection.
It was just as we pulled up to her dorm that she offered us the threesome. Mike and I just laughed. We knew for sure she was drunk at that point. I know I had never had an offer like that before, and I’m pretty sure Mike hadn’t either.
A couple of nights later, Mike invited her to his apartment to hang out and have a few beers. I happened to be there too. As at the party, the three of us just sat around and hung out and got to know each other. We sat on Mike’s front porch for hours, just talking… and drinking. There was always beer at Mike’s house, but I promise he wasn’t an alcoholic. He was just your average college student.
At some point in the conversation, we got on the topic of her boyfriend. Mike and I had talked about it previously and we were both attracted to her, but seeing as how Mike was a bit more confident than I am, he was openly flirting with her and he asked her whether or not she had a boyfriend. This is an important bit of information for any interested guy to know when he is deciding whether or not to pursue a girl. She told us she was dating Jason Star. At the time, she was quite into him.
Jason was well known at Hillel and a lot of people seemed to like him, including Mike. I was not one of those people. Don’t ask me why, but the guy just bugged me. And knowing he was Katie’s boyfriend made me like him even less. I think it might have been because he was so confident, almost over confident. In my opinion, he reeked of pomposity. I think he even wore cologne called “I’m better than you.”
As the year came to an end, she and Jason started to have problems. I honestly think some of these problems stemmed from the fact that the kid just loved himself too damn much. But that’s just my opinion.
Since the party, she and I had been talking more and more and she started to come to me with her relationship problems. I had no problem with that. No, it wasn’t because I was hoping I would be the next boyfriend, though the thought had crossed my mind. I just like helping people solve those kinds of problems.
I’m quite old fashioned, in some respects, when it comes to relationships. And since I’ve never had a relationship that’s been any good, I like to try and help other people make their relationships better. I learn from helping other people with their relationships. I hear all sorts of different situations and problems. Helping with relationship problems helps me to get a clearer picture of how I want my next relationship to be.
So, I helped Katie with her relationship troubles. If nothing else, it gave us something to talk about, though it wasn’t long before we were talking about anything and everything.
The first week, or so, of that summer, I spent visiting my best friend Shawn, who went to Oberlin. Shawn is my closest and dearest friend in the whole world and there isn’t anything he doesn’t know about me and vice versa. We’ve been accused, at times, of sharing a brain. I wanted her and Shawn to meet. I had told him about her and he was quite interested in meeting her. I told her my plan to spend some time there, and since Oberlin is near Cleveland, I suggested she come and spend a day, or two, there.
I actually suggested it thinking she’d say no, for whatever reason. But she didn’t. She was surprisingly excited about the idea. I really didn’t expect her to spend a couple of days in Oberlin. Hell, we hadn’t known each other all that long. So, I told her I’d call her when I arrived and we’d make plans for her to come up.
So I arrive at his house and almost right away, I call her. I was really excited. I gave her directions to Shawn’s house and she said she’d come up the next day. I couldn’t wait. I was so excited. I told Shawn about it and he was thrilled. He knew I was interested in her and wanted to meet her, to size her up.
She and Shawn got along splendidly, though I wasn’t at all surprised. Interestingly enough, he saw real potential in her before I did. Yeah, I was interested, but I never really thought anything would come of it. He had said, once, that I would find a girl at college and he though Katie was a good prospect. He wanted me to find someone. Hey, I wanted to find someone.
She spent two days there. We both slept in Shawn’s living room. Yes, I got to see her in her pjs: cotton pajama pants and a white cotton tank-top. She looked oh so good in them, adorable and sexy at the same time. It was quite possibly the best she ever looked. I loved it.
We didn’t do anything exciting. We just hung around. Shawn was in classes, still, so it was just Katie and I during the day. It was great. It was such a beautiful couple of days, not a cloud in the sky. I remember one day when wore one of her tank-tops that she liked so much. Well, I liked them too, but I’m sure for a much different reason; she just looked so nice in them. One of those days we just sat out in the sun, all day. Well, she sat in the sun. I sat under a tree, in the shade, and watched her glow. We sat there, in the sun and shade, just talking. Just laughing. It was a perfect day.
And then it was time for her to go home. In some ways, those two days seemed to last forever. But forever just wasn’t long enough. I had enjoyed every minute she was there. I almost think I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. We hadn’t really spent any time together, just her and I. I guess I hadn’t known what to expect. It was an absolutely wonderful two days. The summer started with Katie and I saying a heartfelt goodbye. I hadn’t known her that long, but I knew I was really going to miss her.
As it turned out, her relationship troubles, with Jason, lasted through most of the summer, and as I had become her adviser on such matters, we talked quite a bit. I loved it.
I spent the summer with my dad and stepmom in St. Paul. It was was a good summer, but what made it better was that Katie and I talked on a regular basis. She called me and I called her. It was almost like we had so much to say to each other, but at the same time, we didn’t. We just talked.
We talked about all sorts of things: music, movies, life, love, and countless other topics, not to mention just about our general average everyday lives. I loved her laugh and tried to hear it as often as I could. I worked hard at making her laugh. Even a little giggle was a wonderful thing. I couldn’t wait to talk to her and it was hard to hang up the phone each and every time. It was at some point during the course of that summer, I think, that I first fell in love with her. Though I wouldn’t realize I was actually in love until much later in the story.
As I was returning to school, she was all I could think about. I couldn’t wait to see her. I wasn’t expecting anything at that point. I was simply excited and eager to see her, that’s all.
By the time we had gotten back to Oxford, she had broken up with Jason, much to my approval. For the first time since I met her, it seemed like it was just Katie and I. It was great.
As the year progressed, she and I spent more and more time together. We didn’t do anything special. We just spent time together. We talked. We laughed. We shopped. She’s a girl, girls love to shop and seeing as how I had a car, I took her to the mall every now and again. I didn’t mind one bit, though. It was just another opportunity for me to spend time with her. We listened to music. We simply drove around. We got to know each other. We saw each other nearly every day.
It got to the point where we were spending nearly all of our free time together. I got to hear all the little things she thought about. I heard about the big issues too, but it was the little stuff that was good. It was the little thoughts, the little tidbits that I liked so much. After a while, I felt like I honestly knew her better than anyone else. I don’t say that lightly, either. At the time, I genuinely felt that.
The days passed too quickly, though, and before I knew it, the first semester was nearly at an end. I had no idea what was in front of me. I couldn’t see it coming at all. As far as I knew, things would keep going on the way they were. Unfortunately, from here on out, things would become increasingly complicated.
She’s been dating Marty. Here’s another guy that I don’t approve of, but I don’t say anything because she’s happy. What a good friend I am. I have become increasingly unsettled and frustrated by this situation I’m in.
On the way to Hamilton one night, for dinner, she asks me, “what’s wrong?” She planned this, I think. She can tell there’s been something bothering me, and she asks me to go to dinner with her so she can find out what it is.
I didn’t know she could be so clever. I’m reluctant, of course to let her in on my little secret. I have good reasons, however, for wanting to keep it to myself. I have feelings for her.
I don’t know what that means, though. It’s just a hint now. It’s a little feeling in my gut that I can’t seem to get rid of. I have no idea about just how strong those feelings are. What the hell do I know about feelings? That’s all I can say. That’s the only way I can put it. “I have feelings for her.”
I don’t think it’s love. How could it be? I haven’t known her long enough to be in love with her, Have I? Being in love is for real. That’s not something you take back. That’s not something you joke about. Being in love is serious business and I’m not at at that point with her.
Just saying “I have feelings for you” is different. It’s easier, somehow. It doesn’t seem to carry the same kind of weight, but still means something. I can’t say ‘love’, but I can say I have feelings.
So, I have feelings for her, but what would come of them now? I shutter and fidget and try to avoid answering. I think to myself, “nothing good can come of this line of questioning”. She continues to persist through dinner until I start to cave. I’ve never said anything like this to anyone before, certainly not a best friend who happens to be dating someone.
I breakdown, finally, and start to tell her. but I can’t get the words out. They sit like lumps in my throat, knots in my stomach. I try several times and we sit through half a dozen silences before she knows what it is and asks, “you have feelings for me?”
I’m caught completely off guard. I didn’t think she could guess it. I didn’t think she had any idea. How the hell could she know? Am I really that transparent?
I can’t think of anything to say. A simple, quiet, “yeah,” is all I can muster. the drive back to Oxford is a little awkward, at least for me. It seems I’ve run out of things to say to her. I can’t even think of anything to make her laugh. My mind is completely blank. I try to relieve some of the awkwardness by telling her that I will try and be normal and that I don’t want her to break up with Marty on my account. not that she would.
The remainder of the drive neither of us say a word. What is there to say? I certainly don’t have anything I can think of, though it’s a little surprising that she can’t. She’s very good at small talk, especially when it comes down to awkward situations. But I think her mind is blank on this particular occasion.
After a day, or two, things went back to normal. The awkwardness faded. I figured I’ll take what I can get where she’s concerned. Hell, she was spending more time with me than she ever did with her boyfriend. That’s got to count for something, didn’t it? Before too long, it’s like I never said anything. She pretended she didn’t hear it and I pretended I didn’t say it. Which in fact, I didn’t. Who’s keeping track, though?
I should have leaned across the table and kissed her.
20/20 hindsight. That’s what I should have done.
Instead, I continued to let things be.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there was definitely a part of me that was happy with the way things were. We never once went on a date, though we ‘hung out’ all the time. There was something nice about that. While I wanted to date her, I didn’t know how to go about it. I’d never been in a relationship that was really any good and part of me was afraid of what might happen if we were to date. So, I left things the way they were.
I felt stuck. I felt like I had no control over the situation, over my actions, or her feelings. Really, though, did I have any room to complain? Sure she was dating Marty, but I was the one she was spending nearly all her time with.
So, I figured I’d let things be. in reality, though, I had no choice. I was a victim of my own fear. I was afraid to say anything to her about those feelings. I was afraid to make a move, as they say. I was a coward.
I got frustrated. I was in a situation over which I felt I had no control. At first my frustration showed itself in a comment I’d make here or there. As my frustration grew, those comments turned to snide remarks and it got to the point where I would snap at her, for something that really wasn’t all that important. I kept all my feelings for her, whatever they were, bottled up inside me until they started to leak out of my ears.
It was right around this time that she came to me and told me she wasn’t sure she wanted to continue dating Marty. So what? I didn’t care. She didn’t want me, so I really didn’t care if she wanted to be with Marty or not.
My frustration was growing into anger. Not at her, more at myself. I was angry I couldn’t say exactly how I felt, even if I didn’t know exactly how I felt. I didn’t want her to know how much it was bothering me, though. I just didn’t see the point. She knew I had feelings for her, whatever the hell that means, but she obviously didn’t think it mattered. At least from my perspective, it looked that way. Maybe I’m wrong, but I bet I’m not.
Fine, so I continued to keep it all bottled up inside me until it festered and seeped out of my pores. As before, I decided to help her with her relationship issues, whatever they might be. I couldn’t very well stop being her friend just because I had issues of my own.
“If you want to break up with him, just do it. if you’re not happy in the relationship anymore, just get out. No big deal.”
I want to down play the whole thing. I want to show my indifference, even though I’m indifferent at all. So, I give her the simple, straightforward solution. No bullshit. I am getting tired of the bullshit. I feel like we’ve both dished out so much of it to each other, mostly without even knowing it.
Of course it wasn’t as simple as I made it out to be. She wanted to date him, but she didn’t. She liked him, but she didn’t. Whatever the hell that means. I still don’t think I understand it completely. She liked him. She thought he was nice and cute. She didn’t want to hurt him by breaking up with him.
Damn it! Make up your damn mind!
There came a point when she just started avoiding him, deliberately. It wasn’t all bad, though. I found it quite amusing when Marty would call my house, looking for his girlfriend. At the same time, odds were if she wasn’t at home, or in class, she was with me. Eventually, though, she was using her friends as an excuse to not spend time with him. I didn’t think that was very nice. I didn’t think it was the right way to handle the situation. Thus the discussion began.
“You can’t have it both ways. Either you do the right thing by Marty and break up with him, or you give him more time.”
“My friends are more important. I won’t take time away from them.”
“Fine. Then you need to break up with Marty!”
“I don’t want to.”
And so it goes. Back and forth. It’s like talking to a brick wall. She sees my point, but refuses to choose. She wants it both ways. She’s so damn frustrating!
As the conversation progresses, I get more and more angry. How can she do this to someone she cares about? When I think about it, though, I don’t know why I get so mad. She’s spending time with me and not him. I should just let it be.
Here’s the thing, though; I put myself in his shoes. If I were dating her and she did this to me, I wouldn’t stand for it. Also, my frustration with the whole situation I’m in starts to get to me. This discussion, or argument, or whatever, gives me a chance to decompress a little.
Finally, as if I switched on a light, she gets it. I tell her pick. To make it simpler, In a way, for her, I make it more visible to her.
“You have to choose: me or Marty.” By the time we get to this point, I’m fuming. I’m yelling. I’m screaming, punching doors, and cursing at her. I can’t believe she can do this to him with no remorse or second thought. I don’t remember the last time I was this angry. But she finally gets it. Finally.
“Fine. I choose Marty, then.”
Instantly, my mood changes. I’m smiling. I’m relieved. Maybe I should’t be, though. I mean, she did just choose him over me. That wasn’t the point. She’d made the right decision and that’s what mattered. I don’t really think she would ditch me for Marty.
“See! that’s all I wanted. That’s what you should do, If you want to stay with him. That’s all you had to say. Good. Wonderful. See how easy that is?”
We went back and forth for quite some time, but it was all worth it, because in the end she made the right choice. I finally got the response I wanted. It just took a lot of persuasion.
I remember being happy. Yeah, I had yelled and gotten pissed off. I might have even made her cry, but in the end she chose the right answer. That was the first time I questioned her moral judgement and called her on it.
She’s not a bad person. Not even close. in some ways, she’s more caring and giving than I am, but sometimes I don’t think she does the right thing. It’s probably because she’s scared of what the outcome might be, and in that I can’t really blame her. I have some of the same problems, I think. It makes me feel good, though, that I can help her do the right thing, even if I can’t all the time.
It quite possibly might be the only time she ended up doing the right thing. Thinking back now, it still makes me smile to think about the conversation and how she came to the right decision, even if I had to cram it down her throat. She chose it, I didn’t. Maybe there is hope for us yet.
Unfortunately, I can look at this point as the beginning of a very, very long and rough road for our strange friendship. The story gets worse from here, but as the reader, you might also say it gets much, much more interesting. At least, I think it does.
I look back on this time, over a year and a half ago, with great longing and fondness. I’m not one to use that word often, but I think it’s a word that is appropriate here; fondness. Part of me wishes I could go back to the end of that school year and fix things. Our friendship was made harder by my inability to talk to her. But I get ahead of myself.
The Marty debacle happened in the first couple weeks of the second semester of my first senior year, over a year and a half ago. The next two months of 2000 would turn out to be very interesting. And very hard.
Hal’s 21st birthday is a huge bash! We get ourselves a stripper and have a great time. It seems everyone is getting a little ass, everyone that is, except Hal and I. Katie shows up, without Marty, and proceeds to have a really good time, if you catch my drift. I can’t say for certain whether or not she makes out with Brad, or not, because I don’t see it happen. I just hear that’s what happens. just the idea makes me very jealous, though I can’t exactly tell you why. I think Brad is great, one of my friends, but I just don’t see that he’s that attractive. She’s better friends with me and I think I’m more attractive than he is, but she still, if the rumors are true, gives him a little nookie. I do come to find out not too much later that the rumors about her and Brad are, in fact, not true. Somehow, though, that just isn’t much consolation to me.
She also gives Seth a little something. I know this is true, because I see it with my own eyes. The two of them make out right in the middle of our living room and I do mean right in the middle. Literally. She’s still dating Marty and this constitutes the last straw for me.
In all honesty, I’m not bothered by the fact that she’s cheating on him. Their relationship is on the outs anyway. What does bother me about it is the fact that she doesn’t cheat on him with me! We spend more time together and have, in my estimation, such a great and unique friendship and she goes and cheats with someone she doesn’t know half as well as she knows me. I’m jealous. I’m angry.
I work really hard to keep myself from throwing both Katie and Seth out on their asses. To put it another way, I let it fester. I pretend I’m not bothered by it, but in fact it eats away at my insides.
After the party, I avoid her for days. I don’t talk to her and I don’t see her. I put on a really good show, saying I’m angry because she cheated on Marty. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. I am hurt, though I might not have a good reason to be. I’m frustrated at this situation I’ve managed to get myself into. It would be so much simpler if I didn’t have these indeterminate feelings for her.
I can really be an asshole sometimes. I don’t have much call for it anymore, but I’ve had years of practice.
This was one of those times when I felt like being a total asshole. I was so frustrated I couldn’t see straight. I felt like nothing was going my way. Here was this girl that I really liked, this girl that I thought I wanted a relationship with, and she was just happy being friends. I was so tired fo friends. It’s always the nice guys the girls want to be friends with. It’s the assholes that they want to date. I was tired of being the nice guy friend!
Of course, I didn’t show my anger and frustration like a normal person. No, instead I decided to play games. In this particular case, I decided to say I was angry about something that didn’t even really bother me that much. It was easier to be mad at her for cheating on Marty than it was to be mad because it wasn’t me she cheated on him with. Have you ever heard of something so completely stupid and twisted?
I was jealous, plain and simple. I mean, hell, she wasn’t as close with Seth and she hooked up with him. Damn it! why?
Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but… what’s so wrong with me? I’ve had countless people tell me I’m cute and tell me I’m attractive. Then why didn’t she want me? I couldn’t understand it. We were such good friends. We spent so much time together. I had done so much for her. But she didn’t want me! So, were all those countless people wrong? Well, I’ve certainly always thought so. I’m short. I’m kinda pudgy. Maybe that was it. We were really good friends, but she wasn’t physically attracted to me. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t understand. was I that unattractive? What was so wrong with me? Am I doomed to countless female friends without having the right one want me? I think this is just how the world works. The nice, genuine guys are doomed to live alone in little shacks until they die, while the assholes of the world get all the good women.
Yes, I was bitter, if you haven’t figured that out. Life just doesn’t seem fair to me, in that respect. And I know there are children starving in the Sudan, but just let me bitch in peace!
So, she cheats on her boyfriend with a guy who isn’t me. At least it would have made a little more sense if it had been me. I was jealous and angry.
So what did I do? Tell her she was an awful person? No. Did I spread nasty little rumors about her being easy? No. I was so much more subtle and clever than that. It was devilish. It was conniving. Hell, it was brilliant, in my opinion. I wrote an anonymous email to Marty, telling him of her escapades at my house. Damn, I’m good. This was just a really great way to lash out at her, without letting her know why I was really angry. Like I said, I was playing games.
I can’t believe she did that! and with Seth!
“That’s it! that’s it! That’s the last straw!? I have do do something to her, something very… not nice. I can’t leave this alone. It can’t be direct action, though. It has to be better than that, more subtle.
“Sunny, what do you think? An anonymous email to her? Ahh, I got it! Even better, an anonymous email to Marty, telling him what she’s done. Let him deal with it!”
Now, Sunny’s the master of twisted revenge and he thinks it’s a great idea. Maybe I’m moving up on the sinister scale. “Great idea! We can set up a ghost email account and send him the email from it.”
“She might figure out that I sent it, though.”
“Yeah, maybe, but he’ll never figure it out. bBesides, so what if she knows it’s us?”
It has come to my attention that your girlfriend has been unfaithful. I’m sure you’re wondering who it is that would send you such an email. Ask yourself, though, does it really matter? Think of me simply as a concerned party, trying to look out for your best interests. I’m sure you won’t take my word for it, though especially since I’m not going to give you any details. My role is not to give you all the little tidbits, just the general facts. Your girlfriend cheated on you tonight. Ask her yourself. See what she has to say about it. If she doesn’t tell you what happened to night, you’ll know she’s lying.
A Concerned Party
“How does that read? You think it’ll work?”
“Yeah, that works.”
“I’m going to attach a blind carbon copy, so she’ll know he knows. Then we can just sit back and watch the fun.”
I’m such a bastard, aren’t I? It was all a big game to me. “Let’s see if she can guess it’s me that sent the email.” Almost immediately, we get a response from Marty.
First off, he didn’t believe us, the moron. Then he berated us for involving ourselves in his business. It was none of our business and, if we were really concerned, we wouldn’t be keeping our identity a secret. What the hell did he know?
It also wasn’t long before she was questioning Sunny and I about the anonymous email. Did either of us send it? Did we know who sent it? Things like that. the basics. I was in asshole mode, still, and had no trouble shrugging off the accusations. I was still playing the game.
“Of course I didn’t send the email. What would make you think that I did?” I didn’t care how pissed off she was. I was angry and bitter. Mostly bitter. I have no trouble admitting that now. I was going to show her. All the emotions I had kept to myself had begun to seep out as bitterness.
Sunny, on the other hand, was doing it mostly for the sheer entertainment value. He wasn’t pissed off at all, I don’t think, but he was loving it almost as much as I was. We both managed to keep out mouths shut, at least for a while, anyway, and the game continued.
Drama at the Charter Day Ball
The Charter Day Ball is a huge gala that Miami puts on every three years in honor of its establishment in 1809. In some respects, it was a great time. My date looked pretty good, as did a lot of other girls. It was a festival of eye candy! And, I must admit, I looked pretty damn sharp myself. I also had a great time with my friends. I was having a blast… Until she found me….
Well, a week or so has passed since Katie’s loose display at my apartment and she finally broke up with Marty. I’m not exactly sure what happened, because I’m still not talking to her. But I know they’re no longer together. It doesn’t matter to me one bit. I am fed up with the whole thing. I’m tired of being such a good friend to this girl that I “have feelings for” and having nothing to show for it. I’m sick of playing the nice guy role. I am still bitter with jealousy and continue to mask it with a sense of morality.
I’m working very hard at avoiding her and showing her that I’m mad. She has come to the apartment a couple of times and either before she gets there, or shortly thereafter, I leave. I’m sure by this point it is very clear to her that we’ve, or I’ve, got a problem, but she doesn’t say anything.
Now, this is just a few days before Charter Day and she is dateless. She was supposed to be going with Marty, but that obviously isn’t happening now that they’re no longer together. So, instead, she suckers Brad into going at the last minute. He wasn’t even planning on going! He was going to Pittsburgh to visit some friends for the weekend. But she convinces him to go to the Ball with her. Who knows why he caved in, but he did. I keep telling him he’s not going to get any from her, if that’s what he’s thinking. He goes anyway, adding to my frustration; who knows why.
Maybe I know, now that I look back. Hell, I might have even known at the time, though I wouldn’t have said it to anyone, not even Shawn. once again, I was jealous. She didn’t even ask me. I don’t know if the thought even crossed her mind. Maybe it’s a childish reason, but I can’t help how I felt.
I’ve never been very good at keeping my emotions from controlling me. Maybe she didn’t ask me because she knew I was mad. Or maybe she knew I was already going with someone. What I do know is that she didn’t ask. And whether I was justified, or not, that just added to my jealousy and frustration. I continued to play the game and I continued to act stupid.
So, I’m at the ball with a bunch of my friends and I’m having a great time. I’m dancing, which I seldom do, and just thoroughly enjoying myself, that is until Brad shows up, with his date. Brad and I say “hi,” chat for a little bit, then I go back to my date and continue to have fun.
It’s not long before she comes over, wanting to talk. In all honesty, I’m not sure if she’s drunk, or not. I don’t think she is, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she is.
Anyway, she decides now would be a good time to talk about what’s been bothering me. Part of me wants to tell her the whole thing, everything I’m feeling. That would be the right thing to do, the smart thing. Instead, I continue to play the game.
“I don’t want to do this now. Why don’t you go back to your date? I’m sure he’s missing you.” She continues to persist in nagging me, though I must admit, in a very cute way.
She looks probably the best I’ve ever seen her; like an angel. I’m just an incredible jackass, though, and I don’t want to get into it with her, even though part of me really does want to. It’s just easier to play the game. It’s just easier to be angry and not do anything about it. I’m stupid about it, plain and simple.
In a very blunt tone, I say, “This isn’t the place, nor the time to be having this conversation.” I push her hands off me and walk away. Not more than a minute later, Brad comes to me, asking that I talk to her.
“Just go and talk to her. She’s pretty upset.”
“No. I’m not getting into it with her now. This isn’t the place or time. She’s your date, you go comfort her. I’m not doing this here.”
I’m pissed off. In a matter of minutes, my whole night is ruined because I can’t, or more accurately, won’t talk to her. I walk away, outside to have a smoke, or four. But I catch a glimpse of Katie at I head out. She’s sobbing, her face turning back between Brad and I. I don’t know exactly what he’s saying to her, but it’s apparent to me that he’s trying to comfort her.
I should have talked to her at the Charter Day Ball.
I should have danced with her.
I should have kissed her on that dance floor.
At the time, I didn’t think much of it. She was visibly upset and crying. For some reason, though, that’s not what I saw. All I saw was anger, so to speak. I didn’t care that she was crying because of me. Part of me enjoyed seeing it. It was part of the game, for me. She hurt me, now I had hurt her. I was most definitely a great big asshole, the way I acted.
As foolish as it might sound, though, I couldn’t help it. I knew what I needed to do, what I wanted to do, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My emotions had taken control. In a way, though, I almost wanted to say the rest of me enjoyed it as well, but in a different way. The asshole part of me simply was bitter and wanted to see her in pain. Yes, I know; it’s amazing I had any friends at all. Like I said before, this wasn’t a normal thing for me.
Anyway, the rest of me enjoyed seeing her cry for a much different reason. I’d never, in my recollection, seen someone I care about so affected by my actions. She was truly shaken by my words and by the way I was acting toward her. That was probably the first time I knew that she really cared about me.
It wouldn’t be until a day, or so, later that I would find out just what this most recent chain of events would mean for her, for me, and for our friendship. Looking back now, I never could have imagined what would come from this. There are times, even now, over a year after charter day, when I can’t believe it. Her words sometimes see like a dream to me.
I could say that I haven’t thought about what happened at the Charter Day Ball since then. I could say I haven’t been trying to figure out exactly why she was so upset. I could say all these things, but I’d be lying. Damn it! It’s all I’ve thought about. I can’t figure out why she was so affected by me. I never could have imagined her reaction to be this severe.
I’m still bitter, but it has mostly faded. Now I just want to know what’s going on in her head. I can’t concentrate on work, or anything else. Why? Why is her reaction like this?
It’s been a couple of days now, and I haven’t seen or heard from her. I’m not really surprised, actually. I think maybe she’s angry with me now. I think maybe she’s just giving me some time. Maybe she’s giving herself some time. Who knows. I do know this; I’ve started to miss her. Maybe I was too rash. Well, of course I was too rash. I should have told her straight out what my problem was, why I was so angry. I shouldn’t have been such an ass.
I seem to say that more often than I should. I don’t really get angry very often. I really don’t. When I do, though, watch out. I’ve lashed out at people before. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have said and acted in ways I’ve come to regret. That’s what happens when my emotions take control of me. This particular situation with Katie was most definitely one of those times. Who knows how things might be different now, if I had acted better.
I should have said to hell with this soap opera, to hell with the game. Maybe, though, there was a reason I didn’t. while I don’t really believe in fate or predestination, sometimes I can’t help but wonder….
In the midst of my internal conflict and puzzlement, she calls. She actually calls. I’m in shock and amazement. Our conversation starts off very awkwardly, as you might except.
“Hi. How are you? How was Charter Day?”
“I’m alright. I’m kinda surprised to hear from you. Charter Day was a good time. I enjoyed it.” Now I know these things aren’t the reasons she called. Yeah, she may be interested, but these things are not why she called. “What’s up?”
“How was your time at charter day, other than the scene and the crying episode?”
“It was fun. I had a good time, but I want to talk to you about that.”
No kidding. not too long before she calls, I have a thought, an epiphany, so to speak. I am about to find out if it’s an accurate thought. “Yeah? Well go for it. I’m listening.”
“Well, I’ve been trying to figure out why I got so upset when you stopped talking to me. It caught me off guard and I wasn’t sure why.”
“Yeah, I had the same thought. I’ve also been thinking about it, trying to come up with an answer of my own. What conclusion have you come to?”
“I don’t know. it’s just so weird.” She loves that word: weird. She uses it often. Sometimes I wonder if she really knows what it means.
“It’s so weird. I don’t know. Never mind. So, what have you been up to?”
“Oh, no. You’re not getting off that easy. Tell me. Tell me what you think. I have some idea.” As soon as she changes the subject, I know what conclusion she came to. How do I know? Simple. It’s my sixth sense. It’s my gut feeling. It just sorta came to me. It’s my epiphany.
“No. Never mind. It’s so weird.”
“Yes. I know, weird. Tell me anyway.”
“What do you think I’m going to say?”
“I know what you’re thinking, but I want to hear you say it.”
“How do you know? You don’t know.”
“Well, not for certain, no, but I’ve a hunch. Spit it out, already.”
“Ok, fine. well… I thought it was really weird, the way I was acting, so I started to think about it. I tried to figure out why. and it just sorta occurred to me….”
And then a pause. A pause like in a movie, drawn out. I feel like I’m in a soap opera and we just left for a commercial break. And we”re back in five, four, three, two….
“I realized I have feelings for you.”
And there it is, ladies and germs, the phrase I never thought I’d hear come out of her mouth! I try to play it cool, but I’ve already fallen out of my seat.
“Really? well, what does that mean?” That’s the best I can come up with! She knows I have feelings for her and now I find out that she has feelings for me. Can I get a ‘what the fuck!’ “Well, it seems we need to talk about this, don’t you think?”
“I don’t know. I guess so.”
“What does that mean?” What the hell was I thinking? “We need to talk about this?” Damn it! Someone should have been there to kick me in the head for my stupid, stupid response! I froze. I panicked. My mind went blank. Still, that’s the best I could come up with? I’m a smart guy. I should have done better than, “what does that mean” and “we need to talk about this.” That’s the very last thing I should have said.
Hell, I shouldn’t have said anything. I should have dropped the phone, gotten my ass in the car, and driven to her dorm room. I should have grabbed her and kissed her. Love is the last place for diplomacy. I’m a damn fool! But in my own defense, it still didn’t seem like love to me at the time.
I didn’t know exactly what I felt. All I knew was that I wanted more than I had. Still, there should have been no talking involved. This was what I’d been waiting to hear from her for so long and I want to talk about it? Someone should have punched me in the nose for being so stupid.
Yes, I know, 20/20 hindsight.
We talked once about it. Sort of. It quickly became apparent to me that she didn’t want to talk about it at all. I’m sure she regretted having said it to me, thought to this day I’m not quite sure why.
We did meet, once, for lunch, with the express purpose of deciding what to do. Neither of us ate much. How could we? I know my stomach was in no condition to digest food. It was filled with too many damn butterflies. needless to say, it didn’t go well. it was like pulling teeth with her. she was scared, though I’m not exactly sure of what. I’m certain she could see the excitement, the idea of possibility in my face. Maybe that’s what she was scared of.
This is exactly what I’d been waiting for. This is what I had been wanting and hoping to hear for so long. Now it seemed the possibility had finally presented itself.
It isn’t much of a conversation. I do most of the talking. I try so hard to be diplomatic about the whole thing. Maybe I could talk her into something. She had said before, even while she was dating Marty, that she didn’t want to be in a relationship just then. I couldn’t understand that. I still don’t.
How could you say you have feelings for someone, but then not want to do anything about it? I tried so hard not to hear her when she said it to me again. I thought if we could just take things slowly, that she’d come around. How could she have feelings for me and not want to date me? Neither of us would listen to the other. We wanted different things, though we both said we had feelings for each other. Talk about my dumb fucking luck!
I should have leaned across the table and kissed her.
The attempted conversation over lunch was a miserable failure. I finally gave up on the topic for the time being, but said we would talk about it later, when she was more comfortable. I just assumed that she would be willing to get into it sooner or later.
Boy, was I wrong.
I tried a few more times to talk to her about it, but it was clear every time; it was just not a topic she wanted to discuss. She was never straightforward about it, though. She’d joke around. She’d change the subject. She’d pretend she wouldn’t hear me ask a question. Those kinds of things.
I wanted so badly for things to work. I wanted her to cave in. I wanted to hear her say she wanted to date me. But she just wasn’t cooperating. After a day or two of this, I got frustrated. Of course it didn’t happen instantly, almost from the beginning my frustration grew, but now it had finally reached a limit.
I happen to track her down at Hillel. As far as I’m concerned, it’s going to happen now. I’m tired of waiting, of her avoiding the issue. And, as before, she won’t sit down and talk to me. she avoids talking with me about it, just as before.
“Fine. I give up. I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of having to continually force this issue. It’s quite clear you haven’t wanted to talk about this and don’t want to now. Fine. Whatever. I think this is something we should talk about, something we need to talk about, but whatever. You come to me when you want to talk about it, not until then.”
Yes, I am a bastard.
I should have grabbed her and kissed her.
I didn’t want to talk about anything else. I really wanted her to bring the conversation to me, because that would me she wanted to and was ready to talk. Well, that never happened. I wasn’t really all that surprised, I guess. I was hurt.
She had said these things to me, but didn’t want to do anything about it. Maybe she was scared that it wouldn’t work out. Maybe she was worried that dating would ruin the friendship we had. The thought even crossed my mind that she hadn’t really meant what she said. She might have said it simply because she knew how I felt about her and she knew that it would get me talking to her again. I never really thought that was the case, but I just couldn’t be sure.
I stuck to my guns, though.
Struggling for Normalcy
Four months passed, the school year ended and we headed back to our respective parts of the country without either of us saying a word to each other. Most of the summer also went by without me hearing from her until about a week before I was heading back.
As a matter of fact, I think I had gotten a rather surface email from her earlier in the summer and had replied. I never heard back. So, I guess I was the one to break down and call, as usual. Damn, I’m a sucker!
She gets onto the subject of Bec continuing to date two guys at the same time. I don’t think that’s right and neither does she, but she won’t say anything to Bec, because, “It’s none of my business.”
“Of course it’s your business. She’s your friend, right? You think she’s doing something wrong, right? Then it’s your job to tell her. That’s what friends are for.”
“She leads her life the way she wants. It’s not my place to tell her how to live.”
“Bullshit. That’s what friends are for. Friends don’t pretend. Friends don’t sugar coat things. Friends tell it like it is. Friends are the only ones that will do that. Parents won’t because they’re only looking out for your best interests. Strangers won’t, simply because they don’t care. Only friends will tell you when you’re being a jackass. That’s exactly what I did when I have you such grief about Marty.”
“Yeah, I guess. But she won’t listen to me, anyway.”
“How do you know? Have you tried?”
“Well, not really.”
“Then you don’t really know she won’t listen. And, if it turns out that she won’t, then you’ve said your peace, but you should also keep giving her a hard time about it. If you think she is genuinely doing something wrong, you have to be persistent in trying to get her to stop. If you don’t, then you’re not doing your job as a friend.”
“I guess. But I don’t know if I care that much. I don’t know if I think she’s doing anything wrong.”
“What? How can you not think that? Do you mean to tell me that you think it’s ok for a guy to date two girls? How would you feel if you found out that some guy you were dating had another girlfriend? You’d be ok with that?”
“Then you don’t think it’s ok and as Bec’s friend, it’s your job to tell her so. If Shawn is doing something that I think is wrong, I tell him, and vice versa. He doesn’t let me get away with shit and I don’t let him get away with shit. That’s what friends are for. You understand?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Yeah, I know. I seem to lecture her a lot. What can I say? I don’t think she always does the right thing and, like I tell her, it’s my job as her friend to try and set her straight.
“Well, I think we still have a lot to talk about. We still need to talk about you and me and that thing you said to me after Charter Day. But that’s a conversation we’re going to have in person and you’re the one who’s going to be doing the talking. I’ve said everything I need to say. You’ve heard my side of the whole thing. Now it’s your turn. You understand?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“I’ll give you a call when I get into Oxford, ok?”
“Yeah. Do we really have to talk about it?”
“Ok, then. I’ll talk to you in a week, or two.”
“Ok, I’ll talk to you then. You might want to start thinking about what it is you’re going to say. I’ll be looking forward to it. Bye.”
From there, things were good for a few weeks, once we get back to Oxford. Starting somewhere in October, things start to go bad again. Once we got back, and had out little “talk,” I wanted so badly for things to be like they were before the Charter Day Ball, before all the mess. I couldn’t stay mad at her. I just couldn’t. I wanted to, though. To some extent, I thought I still should have been, but I couldn’t.
So, we came back to school and had our talk.
Somehow, I couldn’t imagine a better setting. We went to the park and sat in the grass. It was a beautiful day. There wasn’t a cloud in the bright blue sky. I could feel a slight breeze, which kept the sweat from collecting on me. Like I said, perfect. And, of course, she was perfect. She was wearing a tank top and jeans. It was a very cute outfit on her. The setting was reminiscent of our day spent in Oberlin.
She was smiling when I picked her up and she had a bit of a tan. We arrived at the park and found we were the only ones there. I thought it was strange on such a day. It was like everyone knew privacy was the best thing for us. It was a good thing, too, because I wanted to get right into it. I wasn’t there for small talk. As good as it was to see her, which it was, I was wholly determined to find out what happened. It was a conversation I had been wanting to have for months. This was it. It was going to be now or never.
“I don’t have anything to say. You’re the one who’s supposed to have something to say. I’ve told you; I’ve done my part. I’ve tried. I’ve tried several times. I told you, you’re going to be the one who does the talking, at least to start.”
“I don’t know what to say. It seems like it’s been so long.”
“Yeah, it has. Still, if things are going to change, or get better, you’re going to have to tell me what happened. You’re going to have to tell me what went through your head. Why didn’t you want to talk about it?”
“I don’t know. It was just so weird. I didn’t know what to do, or what to say.”
“Well that’s obvious. It doesn’t really change things, though. You must have known, at least partly, what my reaction was going to be. It was definitely something we needed to talk about, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, I guess so. I just didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to be in a relationship.”
“Yeah, I know that. I knew that. But how could you say you had feelings for me? How could you have feelings for me and not want to do anything? That’s what I didn’t understand. I still don’t.”
“I don’t know what to say. Maybe I shouldn’t have said it. But it was just such a surprise to me when I realized it. I couldn’t think of what else to do other than tell you. I didn’t think about what would happen after.”
“How could you not think about it? It seems like a logical thought process. I don’t believe for a second that you didn’t think once what might happen, about what my reaction might be. I just don’t believe it.”
“I didn’t. I honestly didn’t. I don’t have a good reason. I don’t have an excuse. I just didn’t think about it. What do you want me to say?”
“Think. I don’t believe that. think about how you felt. Try and remember what you might have thought about before you told me. You didn’t really think about what my reaction might be? I just find that really hard to believe.”
“It’s true. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it. The shock, maybe. I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t know how you would react and I as soon as I had said it, I wished I could have taken it back. I wish I hadn’t said it.”
“Well fine. wonderful. But you did say it. And it obviously had consequences. I don’t know how to react. You think I had it all worked out? No. That’s why I wanted to talk about it with you. I know you didn’t want to be in a relationship at the time, but still… you did say it. You had to have thought about the consequences. You had to have thought about what might happen.”
“I didn’t. I don’t know how to make you believe me. I just felt like it was something I needed to tell you. I was so surprised when I realized I had feelings for you. I still have feelings for you. I do. I just honestly didn’t think about what that would mean or what would happen. I don’t know how to make you believe me. Why don’t you believe me?”
I was shocked. Floored. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. It was the farthest thing from my mind and the last thing I expected to hear her say. There was no prompting on my part to lead her to say that. She had feelings for me, still. I really didn’t think she did. I honestly hadn’t thought about it. I just sort of assumed that she didn’t. Even if I thought she might, I certainly didn’t expect her to say it again to me, but she did. And while I still felt like had feelings for her, I certainly wasn’t going to say I did until I had a little better understanding of what went down after the Charter Day Ball. I mean, how could I say that?
By the time we had come to that park, I had pretty much figured she hadn’t meant it when she said it. But now, it seemed I couldn’t doubt her. Once was amazing enough, but twice had to be for real, didn’t it? Without a second thought, I told her I still had feelings for her. Almost before I knew I had said it.
“And I still have feelings for you, but I’m sure you knew that already. Still, it seems really strange to me. I don’t understand how you have said that to me without thinking at all about how I might react, about what might happen next. I just don’t understand it, that’s all.”
“Well, have you ever understood some of the things I do? I wish I could give you a better explanation than that, but I just can’t.”
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to take what I can get. You having said what you have and me having said what I have, it seems we should start by working on being friends again before worrying about the rest. I’m sure you’re just thrilled about that.”
“I understand. I think you’re right. We haven’t talked in so long, it seems like we’re not friends anymore. Things seem awkward between us. We need to concentrate on getting to know each other again.”
From there the conversation turns in a completely different direction. She always seems to have a knack for that. She’s like a super hero whose only power is the ability to quickly and cleverly change the subject. Yes! She is evasive girl! In this particular instance, though, I’m not bothered. I’m glad she has that little talent, because I guarantee I wouldn’t have been able to think of a single other thing to talk about.
Who knows what we talked about? We sat there for hours, though. That was such a beautiful day. The grass was a little long, which made it particularly nice to be sitting on the ground. amazingly enough, that afternoon we managed to get over what seemed at the time to be a big obstacle to our friendship. We had no idea what was in store for us.
I entirely believed in what I had said about working at being friends again. The only trouble was, I had no idea I would be able to fall back to where I had been. In just a matter of weeks, I was all ready to date her again. I never said anything to her about it, though, because I knew she wasn’t ready. I could tell things were strained between us, but for some strange reason, I didn’t care.
She’s making sushi and asks me if I want to come over and help her and nibble along the way. How can I refuse? She’s made it a few times before and it’s sort of become a little bonding thing between us. We both love sushi and she actually knows how to make it. Well, kind of. Her California Rolls aren’t quite what you’d get if you went to a sushi bar, but they are pretty good for an amateur. Little did I know it, but I wasn’t the only one she invited.
It wouldn’t be until much later that I would find out the other guy she invited was her boyfriend at the time. But you didn’t hear that from me and I didn’t hear it from her.
Steven shows up too, but him I don’t mind. Steven’s a nice guy. Quite easily one of the nicest guys there is. It wasn’t too long before everyone started drinking, something I’m not really into, but I stuck around to spend time with Katie.
Something about this other guy starts to bother me. I get the feeling that he and Katie and more than just friends, though I can’t really say why I think that. Something about the way they talk to each other. Something about their mannerisms.
Without any warning, I am hit with this overwhelming feeling of worthlessness. It’s a familiar feeling, but one I haven’t felt in years. I’m caught completely off guard by this feeling and become panicky.
“I think I’m going to go home.” I headed or the front door.
“This just isn’t my scene, that’s all. No big deal.” I can’t move fast enough. And the Oscar for best actor goes to….
“You go on and have fun. Don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” I open the door.
“Well, ok. Are you going to services tomorrow?”
“I wasn’t planning on it. Why?”
“Well, I was thinking about going, but I think it will be really awkward, since I haven’t been there in a while.”
“Don’t worry about it. Yeah, it might be a little strange, but it’ll pass. If you tell me you’re going tomorrow, I’ll go. Ok?”
“Yeah, That’d be good.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”
“Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.” and she hugs me….
I nearly lost my legs. I felt my knees start to give out. I’m sure you think this is an exaggeration on my part. Or maybe I’m embellishing. Nope. I actually felt that way.
For a second, I thought her skinny self was going to have to catch me. I got light headed. No joke. I never, in my entire life, felt that before. She’s hugged me lots of times before that night. Hell, I’ve even hugged her before. I couldn’t tell you why that night, all of a sudden, it was different. I have no idea why. I just know that it was. Maybe it was because I hadn’t hugged her in what seemed like such a long time.
I had never come so close to what I would call a panic attack as I did that night. I was somewhat startled by the feeling actually. No, not the knee buckling feeling; the feeling of worthlessness. It had been so long since I felt that way, I wasn’t sure why all of a sudden it came back to me like it had been there all the time, just welling up inside me, getting ready to explode. And it would explode, but not for another couple of weeks.
Between the worthless feeling and the sudden unsteadiness in my legs, I didn’t know what to do. It took me a little while, a few days maybe, to figure out what it was. What did one have to do with the other, if anything?
Then, I lost my breath. My heart moved up into my throat and my stomach tangled itself into about 17 knots. I loved her. No, no. That wasn’t it. I knew I loved her. Ahhh… I was in love with her. That was it! Somehow, it just made sense. With that one somewhat startling revelation I could explain everything that had happened. It was like a moment of clarity. You know, when everything gets very clear, everything gets crisp. It just all came into focus for me.
Right then and there. With the way things had been going for us, I didn’t dare tell her, though. Sure I had said that “I had feelings for her” in the past, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I couldn’t simply say the same thing to her again. I just couldn’t. It wasn’t the same anymore. I wanted her to feel about me the same way I felt about her. I wanted to hear her say it. I wanted all the things a couple has. While sex was the furthest thing from my mind, I wanted to share a bed with her. I wanted to be able to hold her. I wanted to be able to say things I couldn’t say. I wanted all these things.
I should have found her and kissed her.
I should have done it right then, more than ever.
Unraveling and the Beginning of the End
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning for me. As the weeks would pass, I would become more depressed. I would end up teetering at the edge of the very steep cliff that felt like a serious mental breakdown. It’s hard for me to describe the feeling. I just felt completely lost. It was kind of like being in a room with all the lights off. You put your hands out and take small steps, so you don’t run into anything. The lights had been turned out on me and I didn’t know where to step.
It wasn’t an all or nothing feeling for me, though, it was a steadily growing rumble in the back of my head that would eventually turn into what felt like an all out upheaval. Even now, years later, I can still feel the aftershocks. Looking back now, I knew the storm was coming, I just couldn’t hear the rumblings until it was too late.
I also thought, at least at the time, that Katie was the trigger that set it all off. In some ways, I think she was, but not completely. I think I would have broken down at some point whether she had been involved or not. The situation with her just brought all my fears and insecurities to the forefront sooner than they otherwise would have. I could tell that things were only going to get worse for me. That much I knew.
And I wanted to talk to her about it. I wanted her to know what I thought was in store for me in the coming weeks and months. I did tell her briefly, once, that I was unhappy and that I could tell things were falling apart for me, though, I wasn’t sure why. At first, she seemed very caring and concerned and wanted to know what she could do to help.
Somehow, though, she never really made an effort to follow through on her sentiment. on several occasions, she made plans to get together with me, but always found some reason, some excuse to bail out. As far as I was concerned, it was my hour of need and she consistently wasn’t there for me.
Here was this girl who I was in love with and she didn’t seem to care about me one bit. I was so hurt. I couldn’t understand the way she was acting toward me. I felt abandoned by her. I thought she might be the one person who could shed some light on my situation, who could guide me through the darkness and she refused to help. She refused to lend me a flashlight.
My hurt turned to frustration. My frustration turned to anger. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say to her to make her listen, though I shouldn’t have had to try that hard.
So I asked, one more time, if we could get together so I could explain to her my situation. And one more time, she failed me. This time, though, I realized she had lied to me. I couldn’t believe it. I was so angry. really, I was hurt, but that hurt, as I said, had turned to anger.
At one point, I was so mad I was punching the front door to my apartment. Hal gave me something else to beat up on, because he was worried I was going to put a hole in the door.
I hated being lied to by anyone, but the fact that she was the one doing the lying made it that much worse. Why would she do that? why would she lie? I just didn’t understand. I was so confused. I couldn’t explain it to myself and no one else could explain it to me. It just didn’t make any sense.
So, in my time of weakness, I decided, as much as it hurt me, that it would be better if she wasn’t in my life anymore. I was still in love with her, I have no doubt about that, but I had felt she was making things so hard for me. As much as I didn’t like the idea, I thought I had to do it for my eventual mental well-being. So, after my class one day, I called her at home.
“Hi. Are you going anywhere?”
“Oh, hi. Ummm, no I’m not.”
“Good. Stay right there. I’m coming over.”
“Now. I’ll be there in five minutes.” I hang up the phone. I’ve let all my hurt and anger and frustration build up in me for a couple of days. I’m ready to explode and I’m going to do it in her direction. I’ve waited a couple of days for her to call, to apologize for bailing on me so many times, to tell me why, and to give me some reason. I’m tired of waiting and I’m tired of being hurt. I’ve thought about it for days. I’ve worked out the whole scenario in my head, every possible response she could have.
Or so I thought….
I knock on the door and she lets me in. Katie and her roommates are cleaning the house. How very nice for them. She can tell there is something serious on my mind and I can tell she’s uncomfortable about my showing up there out of the blue. She starts to make small talk, but I’m not having it. I have business to conduct.
“I want to talk to you.”
She continues to clean, waiting for me to start talking, I guess. But I don’t say a word. I want her full and complete attention for what I have to say.
Finally, she catches on. “Ok. Let’s go out on the porch.”
I just follow her out, while her roommates continue to clean. as soon as she closes the door behind her, I let loose. “Weren’t we supposed to get together the other night?”
“Oh. yeah, But I had to work.” An expected response, but I quickly counter.
“No. I knew that. You were supposed to call when you got done.” Short and to the point.
“Oh. well, I had to come home and study. I have to big exams and a paper this week.”
Just as I had expected. Nothing but lies. The wind-up, and the pitch… “Fine. You and I are done, then. I don’t want to have anything more to do with you.” Blam! what’s she going to say to that?
“Ok. fine.” She heads back in to cleaning the house. She doesn’t even flinch. This is easily the only scenario I hadn’t played out in my head. There is just no way I could have predicted that response. And my heart sinks to my feet. I can’t move, can’t breathe. I just stand there.
I really couldn’t tell you just how long I stood there. I imagine it wasn’t too long, though. After I managed to catch my breath and focus my eyes, I stormed back to my car and raced home. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t see and I couldn’t hear. I just kept hearing her voice, her words in my head and seeing her carefree face; “Ok. fine.”
I went home and crawled into my bed, where I stayed for the next two days. Some of my friends wanted to know what had happened. They knew I was going over there to let her have it, to cut ties. But I couldn’t tell them. I couldn’t speak. Every time I tried to get a word out, I felt like I was going to choke on my heart.
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach, stabbed through the heart. Yes, of course in the figurative sense, but also in a way, for real. My chest hurt. My whole body hurt and I couldn’t straighten out. For nearly two days, I laid curled up in my bed, tensed with pain. I was stunned, literally, I think. It still hurts a little when I think about it. I wish I could explain exactly how I felt. I just can’t seem to find the words. Pain, loss, confusion, anger, sadness, fear, uncertainty; these are a good start.
For a time after that, I lost my confidence completely. In some ways, I still don’t think I’ve fully recovered. I mean, what could I possibly be worth if I could be tossed away so easily? After that, I had a bit of trouble understanding why, or how, I had any friends at all. I started to doubt every aspect of my life, of myself. Could I finish school? Could I get into graduate school? Was I cut out for school? Could I really do anything with my life? Some of these questions I still haven’t answered. I’m a little afraid that I might never answer them.
Once again, my hurt turned to frustration, which again turned to anger. I was so hurt by her that I was angry with her. Furious is a more fitting word choice. I wanted to do something miserable and painful to her. I wanted her to feel the same kind of pain that she had made me feel. I sent her a nasty letter, telling her exactly what I thought of her. Exactly. I wasted no words on her. I’m certain that, at the time, I meant every word I wrote about her and to her.
People say things, sometimes, they don’t necessarily mean. I was hurt. I was angry. hey, I was heartbroken. I wish I had a copy of what I sent her. I know it was horrible, but now I can’t remember exactly what it said. Ultimately, I think it was that letter, as well as this story, that made her unable to ever speak to me again, but we’ll get to that later.
We didn’t talk for months after that. I continued on a downward spiral and was afraid I was going to have to leave school. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t think and I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t get those words out of my head, or the look of indifference on her face.
There were days I would wake up and feel stunned, just like I had at first. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed on those days. All the shock in me has faded now, but when I think about it, I can still hear her say those words and I can still see that heart crushing look of indifference in her eyes.
What I’m left with is that feeling of worthlessness. It’s always there; sometimes it’s just stronger than others. I may be able to feel it growing smaller each day, but I can’t quite hide from it and I can’t quite forget it.
So we didn’t talk. For months and months, even while we had class together, I didn’t say a word to her. I just sent really nasty, cold glares her way. I want to, and hoped that I could send chills down her spine. I wanted to make her wince with just one of those cold stares. For weeks, nearly the only joy I had was to see the uncomfortable, sad look on her face every time I glanced her way. It would make me chuckle to think about. I got so much enjoyment out of those looks.
She could go to hell as far as I was concerned.
Let me be clear, here. This was not anger. This isn’t my rage I’m describing; it’s my misery. I was just so hurt. I honestly didn’t know what else to do or how else to act. And like I said, it was just about all the joy I had during those weeks and months concluding that horrific school year. In some sick sense, I felt like I had to hold on to that joy, because it seemed like it was the only place I could find it.
I didn’t say a word to her, until the end of the following summer. Now you might ask why I would do such a stupid thing. Some of my friends certainly did. I just couldn’t help it. Just as I thought I was finally starting to move on, just as I thought I was over her, I was reminded of just how much she had meant to me. I was working at the hospital that summer, watching patients on monitors. For about a week, or so, I had to keep track of this girl who reminded me of someone.
At first, I couldn’t figure out who it was that girl reminded me of. And then, like someone dropped a 100 pound anvil on me, like in the old loony toon cartoons, I was crushed by feelings I had forgotten. Katie. this girl on the monitor was the spitting image of Katie. I nearly went into her room, just to make sure. I had to sit down; I literally got light headed, dizzy.
I realized how much I missed having her in my life. More importantly, I thought I might still be in love with her. After all that had happened, after I had been so betrayed and abandoned by her, could I really still be in love with her? I needed to be sure, one way or the other. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy, which I most certainly was. I had to talk to her to know for sure, though. I had no choice but to call.
And I did. For the first time in what seemed life forever, we had a conversation. The whole thing actually went much better than I thought it would. After just a few conversations, I felt, at least over the phone, our friendship had been mended. It was wonderful that we were talking again. We’d even moved to topics that had nothing to do with anything. In one sense, everything was behind us.
In some respects, just some, we never needed to talk about any of the shit ever again. don’t get me wrong; I was sure we would. I was sure we’d keep coming back to it for some time. I certainly still had questions I wanted answered. As it turned out, my life wasn’t the only one that had been turned upside down. She had things she needed, no, wanted to deal with. For the first time in a long time, things were actually looking up.
Ok, so this is the deal. I didn’t just love Katie. I love my dog and all my friends and my family. I was in love with Katie. Maybe you don’t believe me. Maybe you think I was crazy, or obsessed. Or maybe you think it was just a crush. I know it was neither of these. How do I know, you might ask?
Well, it seems pretty simple to me, pretty logical. I wasn’t obsessed because she wasn’t the only thought I’d have in a day and there was no stalking involved. And it wasn’t a crush. I’d had crushes before and I could tell the difference. Nope, I was in love with her, plain and simple. Well, maybe not; it certainly wasn’t plain and there was nothing simple about it. Like I said; there’s very little that’s mundane about our history.
When I decided to start writing all this down, I was confused and unsure about how I felt. That’s the main reason I decided to write it in the first place; to help me sort out my feelings and I had done just that. I had also come to terms with all the shit that had happened. I had come to terms about how I felt about her. I had also started to come to terms with the fact that she most likely didn’t feel the same way about me.
No one ever has, that’s just how it goes. You can’t choose who you fall in love with. And I knew there was pretty much nothing I could do about it. I mean, I had tried to talk her into it, so to speak, once before. That didn’t work for two simple reasons. First, because I didn’t even know, at the time, I was in love. Secondly, love is the last place for diplomacy. I could have begged, but that’s just not very becoming.
So, all I had left was hope. I must say, though, I’ve never been a big fan of hope. It just never seems to come to anything.
Boy, don’t I sound pathetic? What can I say, I was clinging to one little string of hope and it was all wrapped up in this story. I was hoping she would get it, what I did. All I had left was this story…. No, that wasn’t entirely true. I had just a little more.
But I wasn’t brave enough….
No, I wasn’t.
Fast forward two years after this story was originally written. My lack of bravery was referenced to my head in the head-in-the-clouds idea of sweeping her off her feet with a kiss. Needless to say, I am a big fat coward. If I had been the brave man I was hallucinating about, I wouldn’t be sitting here continuing this sad story. In my defense, however, after completing this story, things didn’t go as I would have liked, and there wasn’t much of an opportunity to do much sweeping.
By the time I had finished writing this, I intended to send it to her in a nice, slick binding, along with a letter and a mix CD. It was my hope that she would read the story, listen to the CD and swoon. Well, she didn’t.
She received the package while I was still in St. Paul. The letter I included with everything else asked her to read the story only if she was sure she was going to be able to talk about it when she finished.
She didn’t. She couldn’t. I know she read the story, because her attitude toward me totally changed, but she never was able to talk to me about it. Once again, I had managed to screw up our friendship with my stupid, ridiculous feelings.
Things were strained between us and when I returned to Oxford, she wouldn’t see me, wouldn’t talk to me. Not really. There was an instance where she ran into me and said we should get together, that I should see her new house and whatnot. I never saw the house. We never got together.
I hadn’t seen her in a while, but I could tell instantly, after seeing her just once briefly, that something had changed in her. During a couple of our conversations during the summer, she had told me that she had been doing ecstasy regularly and that was her reason why things changed so dramatically and why she blew off the way she did.
During those same conversations, she had also said that she had stopped and that she wanted to see a therapist about everything that had happened. She was unhappy, not only did she say it, but I could hear it in her voice as well. I was glad to hear that she wanted to change things and she wanted to get better.
I think the thing that makes me sadder than anything else about this whole story is that, as far as I know, she never did get help. Nowadays, I can’t do anything but shake my head.
I’m too far away to do anything and, even if there were fewer miles between us, geographically, I don’t think she’d let me help her. I can’t even begin to describe how alive she used to be. There was a glow about her that was so bright that I couldn’t help but be breathless whenever she was around. The last time I saw her, she was thin. A shadow of what she used to be. Even when she’d smile, there was no shine in her eyes. The girl I loved was gone.
I was in Oxford for a little less than a year. Katie and I very seldom saw each other, or spoke. I’d see her occasionally uptown, but I couldn’t approach her. I was heartbroken.
It was different, though. Before, I was heartbroken because she didn’t love me, then it was because she had lost herself, lost her glow. When I’d see her, whatever good time I was having, whatever smile I might have on my face would vanish. It was killing me to be in the same town with her, knowing she was so broken, and not being able to do anything about it.
By the time July rolled around, I couldn’t stand it anymore; I had to leave, but not before I told her what I thought and how I felt.
What I wanted to say had nothing to do with my love for her; the girl I loved had disappeared. And that’s what I wanted to tell her. I wanted to tell her she was wasting away. I wanted to show her that the glow she had once had was gone. I only wanted to help her. I didn’t care about “us” anymore, only her and her well-being. she wouldn’t see me, even though I insisted, practically begged.
I felt I couldn’t leave Oxford without doing that one thing. everything else was settled. My business was in order and I was ready to leave, all except for Katie. but she wouldn’t see me. We had one last conversation….
“Can we get together? I just need five minutes, I promise. Just five minutes.”
“I just can’t. Please stop calling me. I don’t have anything to say to you anymore.”
I hang up the phone and leave Oxford two days later. I just couldn’t win and I was exhausted from trying.
Do I regret leaving Oxford? No, it was time to go. I had my whole life in front of me and I couldn’t, as much as I might have wanted to, have stayed in Oxford just for her. It was clearer than ever that I needed to get away. I needed be rid of her from my life and from my thoughts. She was killing me slowly. Somehow, the darkness that had overcome her had possessed me. I couldn’t smile.
So what did I do? I moved to Hawaii, a place where it is always sunny, a place where I hoped I could shed the darkness.
I have yet to totally shake it, though I’m doing pretty well, for the most part. There are days I think of here and the clouds appear. There are days where I have to fight back the urge to track her down and call her up. There are days it occurs to me to go back to Ohio and sit on her until she cries and screams and lets go of all the darkness. But I haven’t done any of that. I’m still in Hawaii, still fighting off the darkness myself.
I hope, though, that she gets her glow back. I hope she will think of me, one day down the road, and wants to find me and talk. There isn’t anything else in this world that I hope for as much as that, in fact, it’s truly the only thing I hope for.
Thoughts of her still bring the darkness. Dreams of her still bring the tears.