Ran into an old friend today.
I mean, I guess that’s what I’d call him, an old friend… don’t know, really. He is. Feels like there is/was more to it than that, but we never actually dated or anything, so I don’t quite know what.
See, we were good friends in high school…
We had this big group of friends… lots of sillyness… it was pretty great, actually. Anyways, this friend. There was a time when I liked him. Like, liked him liked him. I told him so, toward the end of my 10th grade year. He said it was mutual, but [wishy-washy-sounding explanations] he wasn’t going to “ask me out” right then. A few weeks later I saw him kissing a friend of mine, took that as a “no,” was briefly heartbroken, and got over it and him.
We continued to be friends, but he and most of our friends were a year ahead of me, so when they all graduated and went off in various directions for school, the group pretty much dissolved. Fast forward to middle of my junior year of college, and I see a once-familiar screenname pop up on my Instant Messenger. Don’t think I’d seen or heard from the guy in probably three years. I say “hey,” we catch up a bit, hang out with other folks a few times when I’m home for Christmas. Seems like old times. Then one night we’re sitting around watching Star Trek, and suddenly he’s kissing me.
Looking back, yes, there were signs I should have seen. But I a) had never dated or as far as I knew had anyone interested in me so had nothing to compare to, b) had written off any vague maybe-hints as a result of the aforementioned events in high school, and c) am oblivious by nature and fantastically bad at reading people. So I didn’t get the memo… until he was on my face.
And I was like, “WHAT. THE. ISGOINGON?” And there was a conversation (of sorts)… and it was awkward. And largely incoherent, as I recall. I babbled extensively. Couldn’t think in a straight line. Brain-to-mouth filter was totally busted, and neither was making any sense. I was totally caught off guard. Flattered. Angry. (NOW? FIVE YEARS after I had told him how I felt?) I rambled, muttered, babbled some more, he said things, (including “I think I love you,” which I think could have been timed better and, when said, probably could have done without the first two words…) Eventually I managed something resembling “I need to think about this and talk to you later,” and “I should go home now” which came out as a question.
I called him a few days later, once I was back at school, still lacking any sort of clarity or the ability to use words properly. There was babbling again, to the effect of “This can’t work, we don’t make sense, brussels sprouts, maybe we can be friends?” and I promptly ceased to exist. (I’m really good at that, turns out… but that’s a-whole-nother story for a-whole-nother day.) I didn’t have feelings for him, I didn’t not have feelings for him. I had just turned off the part of me that even considered him in a way that involved feelings! We were just getting to know each other again… Maybe I would have started considering one way or the other again, given time, but this just short-circuited that whole process (and heck, my brain) so we’ll never know. I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I just… didn’t. I felt bad about that part… I thought about him the other morning, maybe I’d write him an apology note and drop it in his mailbox one day, but wasn’t sure if he was still living at home, or if that would be weird…
Worked at Borders today, in the cafe for the first time in months. (There was chaos unrelated to that gap, so started off stressful but got back into the swing of things pretty quickly and enjoyed the shift.) Afterwards, I was talking to a friend, wanted to say hi to another, and needed to sort out scheduley things with the manager, so I was kind of wandering around the store… thought I saw a familiar form back in the sci-fi section… walked back that way… guess who?
We talked. Like people. Real live human beings with language capabilities. Like adults even.
We did the standard obligatory 3 minute catch-up. Mused at living back home, non-forever-but-enjoyable jobs, and school loans being icky. A moment of nostalgia for the old group and a bit of hindsight analysis of its demise. He said he thought about me the other day, because he was listening to Switchfoot. (I was all about Switchfoot in high school.) I said I had thought about him just the other day too, the disappearing and all… I did apologize. (And decided, too late, that it was weird.)
As we parted ways, I said, “Good to see you,” and meant it. He said, “You can message me,” and I don’t know what he meant. The whole conversation was… nice. friendly. Awkward, but familiar. No feelings, I don’t secretly wish I had accepted his unwieldy advances, but I do miss him sometimes… In a strictly platonic, if-only-we-had-the-social/emotional-wherewithal-to-deal-with-our-shit sort of way.