“My first love was a tall scruffy boy with slightly curly ginger hair, my best friend, my rock and my reason that I had to smile.”
It’s a little after midnight when I pull into my driveway. I turn off the engine but keep the radio on. It’s been a long day, most of it was spent at work, but the last several hours were spent with a friend, a “Boy Who Could Mean the World to Me” I’ve known him for a few months, and we’ve certainly grown rather close. With every minute I spend with him I know that he could possibly be someone incredibly special. But for right now, he’s just a friend, and my fears are hoping it stays that way. Every day my hand gets a little bit closer to his, afraid that he will retreat, or toss mine aside.
I’m completely worn out, hardly having the energy to even make it through the front door. but despite my exhaustion being stronger than ever, my need for an answer to what to do next. I reach for dialing a number my fingers haven’t created in a while, but I’ve far from forgotten the sound of his voice when he answers. And he does.
“Nick, it’s wonderful to hear your voice,” I say without a hesitation after he says “Hello.”
“Yours too Jay,” He responds.
I begin talking non-stop like I always do. It’s been a few months since we’ve spoken, and I absolutely must catch him up on everything that is happening in my life. I’ll talk for twenty minutes before I even take a breath. “I’m so sorry Nick, “I stop to breathe, “I talk a lot, I haven’t even asked how you’re doing”
Nick chuckles, and I can visualize his smirk, how it curves slightly to the right as he runs his fingers through his slightly curly ginger hair. Unlike me, he can summarize the last several months in just a few sentences. We’re opposites in that way. Our personalities have always been as different as can be, but our souls were the same. Nicolas was my first love, my first broken heart, my first a lot of things.
“Hey Nick,” I say with a timid voice, “I need to ask you something.” My voice breaks, realizing that I’m past the point of no return. I wonder if I should even continue, I’m not sure if he’s going to want to bring this up again. But I must know what he is going to say.
I’ve known Nicolas for 6 years now, and since the beginning I chose to be his friend. I chose to sit next to him in our American History class, I chose him to be my dance partner. However, I did not choose to fall in love with him. That happened all on its own, and with every bit of hidden laughter in during class lectures, every Jamba Juice run, and every tear that he wiped away from my face, I fell a little bit more.
I fell so hopelessly and incredibly in love with Nick, and I spent more time than I should have trying to get him to love me back. It wasn’t until after we graduated high school I had learned that he had loved me the whole time as well. However, with so many complications, time, distance, wants for our life, Nick learned before I did that the universe did not want us to be together. So ,he left my life, and it broke my heart in more ways than I could imagine.
I remember asking Nick why this was happening, he told me he didn’t know, he couldn’t understand or explain. I searched for the answer in every action of my life. I kept repeating “I want my best friend back,“ though text, through phone calls, through hand written letters. Those were words that had probably filled up Nick’s inbox repeatedly as he was out living his life, and while I kept my phone attached to my hands. I spent so many days finding other lovers while I wrote stories about me and Nicolas trying to give us an ending that we deserved, one without where the two of us could be happy even if it wasn’t together. It was my new hope, since I no longer believed love could find me.
We didn’t speak for almost a year, and my heart hadn’t let go of the anger, and the betrayal, because when I lost him, I didn’t just lose my love, I loss my best friend, the person who I called almost every night, my shoulder to cry on, the one person who understood me more than I even could understand myself, beginning an exhausting journey to find out who I was without him.
Until one day I took all my stories I had written, and it seemed like the universe, the same higher power that had probably tried to tear us apart, told me to one more time to reach out. I had almost given up, but I was sick of creating a better ending for us, so this time I called, demanding a better ending.
He picked up. I don’t know why this time was any different, but he told me he was going to listen. I screamed and I cried at him, but none of my words were going to get him to understand the brokenness of the last 312 days. He apologized, it was his fault he said, and that he thought about me every day. His monotone voice broke as he said he will never be able to forgive himself for hurting his best friend.
In my head, I knew it didn’t take away the time, or the hurt, his words could simply be empty.
Men have exhausted my soul.
And he debatably had broken my trust more than anyone in my life, he should have been the one I held most of my bitterness towards. I could blame and hate and scorn every man that has ever approached me in my life, but him I couldn’t. Every man in my life has been so much easier to lose. But three words slipped from my mouth that night, words he, and I certainly was not expecting.
I forgive you.
Suddenly 312 days of hurt and brokenness were lifted away. I heard a laughter of relief over the phone and I joined him. We were 500 miles away, but I felt closer to him than I ever have been before. We didn’t exactly know where we were going after this, and we weren’t quite sure how to fit in each other’s lives, but I knew we were going to find a way.
It had been 16 months before we met up once again and I dropped everything in my hands when I saw him as I ran to embrace him with a long overdue hug. He had kept his beard, and I could have sworn he grew taller and more built. Our eyes finally met, and I knew he was looking at me the same way he did before, and I as well. But it no longer hurts, now both of us see a future, just not with each other, but still having each other in our lives. I love him, but he’s not mine to love. But all I knew was my final memory of Nicolas was not going to be him leaving, I refused. Everyone else can be a ghost of my memory, I didn’t care how, but we were not going to leave things the way they were. I didn’t demand an apology I had no agenda, I just knew that I loved him, I wanted my best friend back.
And I have him back.
And I’ve never been happier knowing that.
Nowadays we have a million things to do in our daily lives, but he’s know I would be there for him in a heartbeat. He is still my rock, my best friend. I wouldn’t change anything about me and Nick’s relationship now. I take comfort in how forever still can happen as you grow older, but it just might look a little different.
It’s been three years, and though Nicolas and I can sit on the phone for hours, watch movies and talk about our ridiculous fears together, every now I think about the year in between, the year I felt empty, looking for his face in the crowd, even though I knew he was 500 miles away. I think about how I searched for closure in everything and everyone else in my life, lying about being okay when I knew that he, at the time, was the only one who could help me. I wonder if he blames himself as he watches me go to the wrong thing, get hurt again. But I don’t blame him- he is my little sliver of hope, the tiniest little bit that even if it’s not what I wanted, love isn’t always going to give me what I want, but it’s going to give me what I need. However, I hold those words back.
Lately, I’ve been spending time with “The Boy Who Could Mean Something to Me”. One day he makes me smile a little too much, and starts to calm my doubts, slowly becoming the person I turn too. Suddenly I can’t breathe, the fear that I’ve been through all of this before is overwhelming. I want to halt every feeling I have. Every fiber of my being just wants to freeze up. As if I already know where this is heading. And for the first time in 3 years, I remember how it feels like to be broken, not because I am, but because I’m afraid to be again.
It’s what has brought me to call Nick a little past midnight. So, after stalling for 40 minutes, I finally build up the courage to talk about us. “Nicolas,” I start hesitantly, he knows whenever I use his full name he knows I’m to say something serious, “ There’s this boy, and I haven’t been this scared to lose someone… well, since I lost you. It’s coming back to me Nicolas. What if he leaves, what if he doesn’t love me back? I’m supposed to keep moving forward, I know that, I always know that. But he’s becoming my best friend and… I lost you and it broke me.I’m just… I’m scared ”
Nicolas is taken by surprise, but he speaks, “Has he told you he isn’t going to hurt you?”
“Yes. But, they all say that, you said that once,” I respond with bitterness in my tone. I know I’ve stunned him, but Nicolas knows it’s not his place to tell me I shouldn’t still be hurting. “And that’s why I’m calling you Nick, because of what happened with us, I can’t bare to happen to me ever again.
“Do you love him Jay,” Nicolas asked. Now I’m the one who is caught off guard. “No,” I answer, “Not yet, or I don’t know if I even want to, if he’s someone I’m willing to trust. All I know is he reminds me of you Nick. The way we started. I feel like it’s happening all over again I feel like I’m 18 again, and I’m scared to even let it begin, to figure out what he means to me.”
“No one else I know has gone through as much trial and error and tried their hardest to learn from it as much as you have. You’re not 18 anymore, you know that. You’ve grown, you’re stronger than you realize and can handle this more than you give yourself credit for.”
“And what if he hurts me, what if we end badly?”
“Then he doesn’t deserve you, but more importantly, you take control of story. You’re the reason the two of us can talk to one another again, because that’s what you do, you say this is not the way things are going to end. That’s what you did with me, and that’s what you’re going to keep doing.”
I feel like I sound stupid, by now I know that Nick is being incredibly patient with me; still I burst out, “I don’t even know if I am in love with him, he’s just a friend, that’s it that’s all, but just in case he’s not, what do I do.”
Nick responds calmly, “You love him like you loved me, fearlessly, and with no agenda. You don’t even know what this is going to turn out to be, so just love him, and whatever form it’s meant to be, will be. You know the answer. And you what Jay, one day you’re not going to need me to remind of you this, not because I won’t be here, but instead, you are going to know this yourself”
I know that he’s right, though I never admit that too him. I’ve always had my own way of words. So instead I say to him, “Nicolas, you’re my reminder that even if things don’t happen the way I want them too, it doesn’t have to end. I’m grateful for you, you’re my sliver of hope that things could end up differently for me. It’s just a little bit of hope, but every time I talk to you, It’s there.”
I’m smiling, and I know even 500 miles away, Nicolas is too.
“I love you Nicolas
“I love you too Jay, and remember, you know what to do”
The conversation ends as I look at the clock and know that I have to head inside. I told him that I’ll be in touch soon.
I know what to do.
I get out of my car, finally grasping the energy to begin heading to the door. My smile is still on my face.
I’m still exhausted. The consequences of giving people my love still has its marks on me, I don’t know if that ever goes away,
I walk up to my front door, finally getting the chance to look at my notifications. “The Boy Who Could Mean the World to Me” has sent me a few text messages, he’s still awake too. Am I falling in love? I’m not even sure. Right now I know that he makes me happy, I just don’t know in what way yet.
Love with no agenda.
“I’m trying, Nicolas,” I whisper to myself, “No promises.”