I remember the electricity, the shock that went through my body as he told me over chicken wings that he was leaving the country…to get married. To this other guy.
Who-? Wha-? Whe-? EH?
I was stunned for a second, and the only response I could muster, eventually, was to change the subject. Because I am me, and I iz awkward as hell.
I didn’t really see him or talk to him a lot in the past two years before that night he told me (this happened a while ago). Those were two years of much needed silence between us after I had the epiphany and finally realized I had to end my eight-year novella of being in love with him.
When I saw that movie “I’m Drunk, I Love You“, damn that really hit close to home. Although, as I told friends, I beat Carson by one year. She was in love with her best friend Dio for seven years. I was in love with mine for eight.
Of course the story started out pretty much the same as in the movies; it’s classic cliche, really. Met him on my first year of college, grew close, grew really close, and then boom. Next thing you know, head over heels si ate. I really, truly, deeply loved him.
You have to understand. He wasn’t hard to love. Everyone loved him, although perhaps not all in the same way I did. He had a smile that always made you feel like he was so happy to see you. He is kind and kind of shy, and awkward, just like me. He is smart. We loved the same books, same movies, music, and even loved to hate the same people (v important). And above all he was my friend. He was not only one of my best friends, but is, until now, one of the best human beings I know. And I know he felt that same fondness towards me. Maybe he still does, too.
Throughout those four years of college, we were practically inseparable. We were partners through everything. Everyone knew that. And so everyone just assumed too that we were kind of an item. I guess in some level, we were. After all, you don’t spend everyday together AND text all the time with just anyone…right? That had to count for something.
And we weren’t always just platonic. There were sweet and flirty messages, and touches and hugs. And moments. Lots of moments.
This continued on until after college. We’d meet up every Friday after work, have dinner, grab a cup of coffee, watch a movie. We’d talk everyday, from good mornings to good nights. And yet, something was still always missing. Why wasn’t our relationship advancing? I had kept myself available all those years. It was always because of him. I kept myself available for him. But I had started to grow weary, frustrated, and very much confused. Sometimes, he would be hot and cold. Nothing was making sense. What was wrong? But I held on, because love isn’t love if it couldn’t, right?
Until one day, I couldn’t hold on any longer.
We were at a music festival. I was upset at him for something he did. And at that moment I suddenly had a clarity, and I knew. I just knew. That was it. That was the end of my waiting. That night, I literally and figuratively walked away from him, albeit in tears, and never looked back.
I stopped answering his texts and calls, his “why won’t you talk to me anymore?” messages. It was one of the hardest things I had to endure, trying to get over him, but I knew it was crucial. It was the end of the line for us. We never were officially together, but “why does this feel like a terrible break-up?” I would ask my friends.
Two years later.
Fast forward to that night. That night he told me. We had decided to meet for dinner. I don’t remember why. But it was two years later, and time and distance had already mended what hurt. I was ready to be friends again.
And then he said it.
He was leaving the country to get married. Soon. Very soon. To a guy he’s been with. There was shock and confusion for a few seconds, and then suddenly, everything, eight years and all, made sense.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked him. “Because I had doubts myself,” he replied.
At that point, whatever pain, bitterness, frustration, all the questions I had stored up from all those years melted away and became but one thing: empathy. In that moment I was nothing more again but just his friend, who understood and loved him without condition. I told him it gave me pain knowing he ever felt isolated like that, and wished I could have carried his secret with him all those years to lessen the burden.
I slept over at his family’s house with him the night before his flight. In the morning, before I left, I placed a postcard letter on top of his luggage and told him to read it later on the plane. He promised he would. We hugged and said bittersweet goodbyes.
Love is love.
He is married now, and I witnessed the occasion with the rest of our friends over FaceTime. It was beautiful, and I honestly only felt happiness for them. Real, kind love is such a rare and lovely thing. I am happy for anyone who finds that. He did.
In the end, here is what I learned: that love is indeed love, no matter the person we decide to give it to. That there are many kinds of love in this world, and no love, however strange or uncommon, should be deemed less powerful or important or valid than the ones we are used to.
Believe it: Love Wins.
Happy Pride y’all.