I never thought I’d actually call you mine.
At this time last year, I was daydreaming about a future in which you and I were together. But, I never really saw much hope in it. You were always so adamant that we were to remain just friends. You grumbled every time we were at dinner together and the waiter brought one check instead of two. You gave a compelling talk about platonic male/female friendships when that small-town shopkeeper assumed we were dating. And I agreed with you, all the while wishing that you’d change your mind and the impossible would come true.
Of course, it all started much earlier than that.
When I first met you, two Augusts ago, you were already a year into the program and altogether intimidating. But, I soon learned that you were more than big words and obscure references. You were intelligent, tall, male, and more-or-less in my league; developing a crush on you was inevitable. Then, November rolled around. Or was it October? I can hardly recall anymore. We were all together for dinner that first semester, and you walked in with her. I had never seen two people look more miserable together. If that was a relationship, I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
The months rushed together and faded away. Winter started melting into spring, and suddenly it was St. Patrick’s Day. I was at a bar with two of our mutual friends, and you came up in the conversation. We started talking about how much happier you had seemed lately, and how you had been joining us more often for extracurricular activities. You had even gone with us to a bar after class one day to celebrate my birthday.
That’s when one of them broke the news…your relationship was over.
I hated myself for the satisfaction I felt hearing that news. I hated myself even more for the glimmer of hope that sparked inside of me when one of them mentioned how she hoped you found a nice, smart girl that would make you happy. In that moment, I knew I wanted that girl to be me. But I never thought with any seriousness that it would actually happen.
Fast-forward to the end of April. It was the department graduation dinner (yours, not mine). That was the night everything changed, although neither of us could’ve realized that at the time.
I don’t really remember how the conversation began. I wish I did. What I do remember is you telling me that I looked nice in my dress as we went to the break-room to get ice. I remember all of us squished into one office, putting that ice to good use as you passed around a fifth of Jack Daniels. I remember how upset you were about the way some of the group had treated you that night, and in general, and that you were graduating with no concrete plans for the future. And, I remember walking alongside you as we crossed campus. I remember us somehow talking about our similar childhoods, and then we were engrossed in conversation for the rest of the event.
After the dinner was over, I offered to drive you and one of our friends to the bar where we were all going next. You two sang duets at the top of your lungs, while I struggled to maintain a straight face. We all had a good laugh at the bar, then I drove us back to campus. Everyone was gone, except for you and me.
You were far too drunk to drive home, and you said you would just sleep in your car. I offered to drive you home , and we settled on me sitting with you until you sobered up instead. We went up to your office where we watched funny videos, looked at books, and talked and talked and talked. As you started to sober up, we went back out to the car, where we talked and talked some more, spilling our life stories. When you were finally able to drive, and I pulled away from campus, I thought I would probably never see you again.
I was wrong.
To be continued…