Return to April 3, 2012 (person)

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We'd met each other at least half a dozen times over the years but it had never stuck. A chance meeting outside a class or a few minutes spent making small talk, a friend-of-a-friend sorta thing. For some reason this was different, maybe it was just the right time. A warm September night spent idle on the porch in the relaxed drowse of alcohol and darkness. The world awash in the sodium yellows of streetlights and flushed with brake light red. Two people in the orbit of the same group of friends but never interacting, maybe we just entered each other's lives at precisely the right moment. It was an instant, inexplicable trust. We'd sit on the couch, two near-strangers leaning into each other comfortably. Holding beer bottles in one hand while our other hands idly rested on a shoulder, a leg, a hand. Neither of us looking for anything beyond that. Simple, non-sexual, easy.

"I have no friends," she told me once. "I don't get along with other women and all the men I talk to want to date or fuck me within a month." I didn't blame them. Voluptuous Greek curves that begged to be touched—begged for fingertips to trace along them with the slightest pressure in the same way one would feel along the edge of a knife. An elegantly mature face that looked better with glasses and without makeup, scar running along the corner of her mouth. Female but not a girly one, feminine in the way that girls who play in the mud always are. Witty, warm, and refreshingly direct; the person who finally convinced me that others genuinely cared for me as a person, not just as an entertainer. And flawed, beautifully flawed. The best friend I wasn't looking for but found anyway.

She saved me from myself, willing to listen to me ramble about my depression without judgement. Willing to talk too (so unlike Emily); about her own life, her worries and hopes, her weaknesses and anxieties. She was the reason I decided to try to get better again after I had failed so many times before. At a time when I had all but given up on life she came into it at almost the last moment and gave me a purpose, even if making her happy is only a shallow and transient one.

"Are you in love with me?"

She looked around the room—the best friend I've ever had—her brown eyes nervously avoiding me as she waited for my reply. I managed to smile reassuringly even as my heart seized. God damn, don't ask me that. I knew that she needed a friend, a true friend, more than anything else; not just another awkward relationship fueled by unrequited feelings. And I wanted more than anything to be her friend and nothing else, to be rid of the complicated affection I felt for her. Torturous in a way that was either very adult or hopelessly adolescent. I knew what the right answer was—what my answer had to be—and I knew that she'd never really trust me if I told her that the truth was much more nuanced than a simple yes or no. "No," I said.

Not yet.

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