I went out with a friend today celebrate her belated birthday. We caught a show and an awesome dinner (and some of the Cavs game, good job guys, way to pull it together for another win! Let’s make it #4inarow! #CavsJazz).
Anyways, something about today triggered memories about an old middle/high school crush. It didn’t start off that way. We were two people who happened to be thrown into a 7th grade classroom and just thru strategic seating placement ended up talking to each other. He was the first real, legit guy friend I had made since elementary school.
I’m not sure if you would call it friendship or attraction, but we ended up in a few classes together in 8th grade. We were together a lot, I’m not sure if I gravitated towards him more than he gravitated towards me, but I would say we had a “thing” going on. Not exactly dating, definitely friends, but there was definitely attraction.
In 7th grade I started getting teased about liking him by a parent. At that point he and I were just friends and just talking to each other. By 8th grade, especially towards the end our mutual friends, were trying to make us a thing. The friendship he and I had continued in spite of, but probably by the end of our 8th grade year I was smitten. Can’t speak for him. So smitten, I cut short a family vacation so I could attend an 8th grade party at the end of the year.
In 9th and 10th grade we had a lot of classes together and ended up on class trip abroad together with other mutual friends. Somehow we ended up sitting by each other on the plane ride over. The best part about our friendship was this whole inside joke concept that we developed. Some of the inside jokes were shared with mutual friends, some were not. However, back to the trip. I may or may not have “accidentally” fallen asleep on his arm, shoulder, or what have you. It was a direct flight to where we were going, but when I woke up, he initiated a tough conversation.
He only wanted to be friends. I knew he had been hanging out with another girl who was a mutual friend, but when you’re on a trip abroad, if you’re a girl, that’s probably not what you want to hear from your on again, off again crush.
Like a typical girl, I wanted to cry. The tears did not fall, but I remember resting the back of my head on his shoulder as I stared out the plane window, silently taking in and processing what he just told me.
Aside, from that conversation, our trip abroad was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Everyone who went on the trip got to know each other pretty well. After we had our “talk” my guy friend and I still spent time with each other, but there were times I felt like I was distancing myself from him or maybe we both were, maybe to get to know other people on the trip and maybe sometimes trying to avoid each other.
We did have our moments. I remember when were staying at a place where there was a pool and tennis courts, things got pretty interesting. It’s almost embarrassing for me to talk about, but another female friend and I decided to go borrow racquets and attempt to play tennis. We did this 2 or 3 times, I’m not sure what happened, but it was when dusk fell. My friend and I had decided to play in our sports bras. Ok, if you’re an athlete, you’re probably like, “No biggie,” but I was in that awkward stage in my life where I didn’t necessarily want to be seen by any attractive boys I knew in my sports bra and athletic shorts. I wasn’t exactly fat, but I wasn’t exactly toned at the time either. I forget if he was with other guys, but I think what happened was my friend and I ended up running to the side of the court where our t-shirts were to go put them back on because we saw they were coming.
Long story short, he was being a guy and he grabbed my shirt. Most people are taller than me, that’s just a fact of life, but he decided to hold my shirt out of my reach. So we were battling each other back and forth. I think I either started poking or started tickling his sides, and he kept bending up and down with my shirt in hand and as he was going up his head smacked into my face. My nose more specifically. That was the first time in my life I had ever seen stars after being hit by something. My vision literally blurred.
To say the least he felt super bad and pulled me over to the light to check on the damage. It wasn’t a big deal. It hurt, I definitely would live, but my nose wasn’t bleeding or anything like that, so I was basically fine. I just remember that was probably one of the sweetest moments we had shared on the trip. There was an awkward moment where for some reason he decided to take my luggage from me and loaded it on the train we were catching. Not sure what was up with that, I think he was just trying to be nice.
However, the ultimate moment was when we went up a very famous landmark together. Again, how we ended up together was luck of the draw. I think our teacher was instigating a tiny bit in this situation, so my guy friend and I ended up partnering up together. Yet again, another sweet, unforgettable moment. All I will say is that it was the first time a guy put his arm around me who wasn’t a family member. Nothing else really happened outside of that, but that was the first time I felt like I knew, or started to figure out that’s how a guy should treat or watch over me.
We grew apart after our trip abroad. We didn’t have as many classes together and he ended up dating someone else for awhile. Our junior year I still had a slight crush on him, but ended up getting caught in a strange crush situation with another guy and some other mutual friends.
We sort of reconnected after we graduated from high school and our first year of college. I don’t want to say I forgot about him, but I was trying to get to know other people and sort of leave high school behind me with the exception of a few friends.
I ended up transferring to another university closer to his my sophomore year of college. I don’t think we talked that whole year. We reconnected our junior year when he wished me a happy birthday, which is another time I nearly fell over because he remembered. There’s an interesting trick about our birthdays, but I’m going to be a stinker and discuss what the trick is or was. He offered to help me with a class, which is help I gladly would’ve accepted, but ultimately I ended up dropping it in the end to focus on my other classes because I was already taking a challenging enough course load.
I sort of ran into him my birthday weekend at restaurant, but I didn’t stop to chat. I was with other friends and we were looking for a place to eat with a shorter wait time. I did run into he and his family that spring at a family brunch. It was the strangest thing ever because his Mom came up to me and gave me a big hug and he thanked me for the Easter wishes via mass e-mail. His siblings were there with him too. It was a quick hello, kind of talked briefly about what I was up to and summer plans, and then it ended at that. I wasn’t able to hear more about what he was up to, because things happened that quickly.
A sort of tragedy struck him our senior year. However, that year I was drowning in a miniature disaster. I know I said I only had one regret in my life, but I think I lied. Make how I handled that situation of what happened to him the second one. One of my parents scolded me for how I handled the situation as far as he was concerned, but I ended up not dealing with his situation at all because I was too busy dealing with another personal situation outside of him. Also, I had messaged his girlfriend to reach out, and got a stay away from him vibe from her. I realize now I should’ve worked thru another friend or contacted his family and worked around her, because I was really concerned. This is an excuse, but I didn’t know how to handle what happened with him and what was going on with me and ended up not dealing with him or his situation like I should have.
Very vague, I know. The good news is I ran into him with his Mom and when I was ironically with my Dad. The vibe I got from our meeting is that he and I were ok. I wanted to reach out and reconnect, but something held me back.
I didn’t run into him again until years later after he got married. Sadly, it was the first time I didn’t say hi to him first. It wasn’t awkward, but the weird part is we didn’t catch up like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in ages. However, there was this positive vibe that we have that came flooding back. It sounds silly, but it’s something that you feel in your heart and soul. I have no idea what that connection was, but it was like everything had changed, yet at the same time it felt like nothing had changed at all.
I feel like my friendship with him has a sort of open ended aspect to it. While my friend Tommy was an obvious influence in my life, my other guy friend from middle and high school has or has had a deeper more subtle impact on my life. I can’t exactly express in words what our friendship has meant to me, but I feel like it’s constant and never changing. It’s something true and real. There’s something about him that keeps me in line and helps me strive to become a better person.
I never would’ve developed into the person I am today without his presence and influence in my life, and I think that’s a pretty big deal.
And yes, I also miss him…
I’ll close with this T.Swift and Ed Sheeran song: