Friday, December 17, 2010
September 5th, 1995
My first day at a new high school. First period, Global Studies. I have a nun as my teacher for the first time in my life. I'm wearing a button down white shirt, pleated gray skirt, stockings and loafers. My blonde hair is long and straight with thick bangs. I am nervous and have no friends yet. The teacher asks us all to open our textbooks but I don't have one so the girl sitting at the desk in front of me turns around to share hers. Sister History Teacher begins calling on people to read the chapter out loud and suddenly, I hear a shy, angelic voice from across the room. He reads aloud a paragraph about World War One and while I could not tell you who started that war or the years it was fought, I could tell you exactly what he looked like that day: dark blonde hair curling slightly in front of his face, same white button down as me, gray pants (lucky boys!) and the sweetest face I've ever seen. I stared at him long after his turn to read was over and when the bell rang, I asked the girl in front of me what his name was. She said B_____ and offered to introduce me. I had my first girlfriend!
Turns out he ran track, swam, sang, and was in all honors classes. We caught up with him in the hallway and she said "B, this is my new friend Kim. Why don't you show her around to her next class. Poor girl is lost!" Thus began a second friendship that has lasted fifteen years.
I think back to that day and how different it might have been. What if my lame ass school district had bothered to provide me with a textbook? I never would've had to share DJ's, thus sparking our conversation. What if the teacher hadn't called on B to read that day? I never would've heard his voice or looked twice at him. For while he was then (and is now) very good looking, he doesn't carry himself with the confidence that attracts a lot of attention. Still, the chain of events led to us becoming very good friends, one of only a small handful of people I've never lost contact with, nor had to reconnect with on facebook.
I will say this: Facebook is amazing for bringing you back to the people you missed in your life but there's something extra special about those you never lost touch with. Friends you counted on all the years between then and now. I count these people amongst my highest blessings.
Anywho, nothing much happened between us in high school. Sure, we always flirted and it seemed like we were forever on the edge of something happening but the timing was always off. Once, in junior year, he told me that he wanted to kiss me and we should meet by the theatre after school. I spent eight periods in absolute angst when I finally spilled the beans about our first kiss plan to DJ during gym class. She looked crest fallen and admitted to having a crush on B for the last three years. Of course, I didn't kiss him that day out of loyalty to my friend but the next several weeks, it got harder and harder to see him in class without feeling like I'd missed out on something amazing.
Senior year we had another "almost but not quite" moment. The Overnight Retreat to Shelter Island is the big event for the Senior class and we were all super excited to go. Thirty-two boys & girls on one bus, headed away together for the weekend? Let's just say hormones were raging. Yes, we had religious chaperones and separate sleeping quarters and they made us do stupid things like hug trees and write letters to our older selves, but that trip was primarily about who was dating whom. I had a mega-crush on a boy we'll call C and we were both on the trip. It had been intimated that we'd make some sort of move to get together that weekend. (I had the notes from math class to prove it!) We walked on the beach together collecting shells, feeling the sand beneath our toes, playing tag football with friends and snuggling by the fire indoors. Yet when it came time for us to declare our "like" for each other, B stepped in and told C he had major feelings for me. Again, not wanting to disrespect his friend, C backed off, leaving me still single and waiting for my Prince Charming to sweep in.
Despite B saying he felt strongly about me, he never made a move. I have very cuddly pictures of us together from junior prom, senior prom, ring night, a whole bunch of theatre performances, and various graduation parties. Not once during all those times did he attempt to kiss me. It was extremely frustrating! I have always reasoned with myself that it was for the best though, because our friendship might not have endured the last decade and a half had we been romantically entwined. My guy friends mean the world to me, not because they were some fleeting romance all those years ago, but because each of them have always been true gentlemen around me and treated me like a princess.
Funnily enough, this is the first time in fifteen years that B and I are single at the same time. I got married right out of college and he dated someone seriously for the last four years. They only just split six weeks ago. Needless to say, the hurt is still very fresh and I've been trying to stay as supportive a friend as possible, while still giving him room to grieve. We've always been the kind of friends to hang out and do things together like go to the movies, play pool, go bowling, head to a party, have dinner. He comes to see all of my improv performances in the city and I go to his musicals on the island. A few weeks ago, he invited me to a hockey game and we had so much fun! I was therefore not surprised when he asked if I wanted to go see American Idiot with him on Broadway last weekend. He had an extra ticket and theatre is my passion so of course I wanted to go!
Let me rephrase: His ex-girlfriend bought tickets for his thirtieth birthday a few months back with the intention that they would see it together. I was technically taking her place. Awkward! In his defense, he told me that I was the third choice of companion. He'd asked each of his brothers if they wanted to go but neither one could. Enter Kim!
He asked her first if she was cool with me going and the response was "Sure, that's cool. Just do me a favor. If you guys live happily ever after down the line and get married and have babies and stuff...don't count this as your first date cause that would be really weird!"
Well, Green Day isn't known for their romantic ballads so I don't think we'll be choosing our wedding song from them. Yet I can't help wondering why that thought would even cross her mind?
I consulted the wisest person I know: my friend Shari. Her thoughts were that we are really cute together, very natural, completely sweet. We're snuggly and comfortable and have lots of shared history. He's pretty much got his head on straight and his ducks lining up. He's stable and secure and generous and kind and considerate and good looking and talented and smart. Why wouldn't I like him?
Oh crap. Is she right? Am I falling for a friend? I mean, it makes sense and we are great together but he broke up with a girl he loved only six weeks ago. That is not enough time to recover and I am no one's rebound. I also don't want to be counted amongst the twenty-two year old floozies guys my age tend to "date" after a break up. He is, of course, not ready for another relationship nor is that what I'm looking for right now. I have at least eleven more guys to date until this "project" is over and I can get my head around things. Is this a case of bad timing or general stupidity? Why does it feel like high school all over again?
B & I sat down to talk about this situation honestly where he admitted he'd always liked me but that now was not a good time for him to start anything serious (Thank you, Captain Obvious!!!) He's afraid that if we tried something and it didn't work out, he'd be devastated about losing my friendship.
Here's the thing about that: if we dated and it didn't work out, yes, it would be awkward. If we dated and it did work it, yes, it would be fantastic. So what chances are we willing to take? I can't promise that things will go our way. I can't promise that one or both of us won't get hurt. I can't promise that this won't end really awkwardly. There are no guarantees in relationships or in life. My ex husband promised to love me forever in front of all of our family and friends...until one day, he didn't anymore. It's always sad when relationships end and people break up (ok, it's mostly sad. There are some couples you're just waiting to jump up and cheer for when it's finally over!) Yet the question remains: what risks are you willing to take in the name of Love?