6. What friends don’t normally do
Posted March 29, 2014on:
He made me promise that I would not celebrate his birthday, the year he turned 25. He said he would disappear on that day, and he did. But we spent the day after together, doing as many unspecial things as we could possibly think of. We probably trolled the chatrooms again, or read movie reviews on dvdtalk forum from all the frustrated critics-wannabes and snickered at them. I think he showed up at my door unannounced in the afternoon, 25 years and two days old. He was dressed in a much better outfit than his usual loose ugly Levi’s and white oversized t-shirt.
14 years later, I have thrown out almost all of his original clothes, but that pair of Armani jeans, I still keep, for old times’ sake.
He had on a nice but old navy blue knitted sweater which was tattered around the crew collar, but still, the change made all the difference. I remember complimenting him on it. He said he was supposed to attend some social function in a little while. We hung out in my room. He told me how he had spent his birthday – alone, wandering around Berkeley Marina, looking at an old couple and feeling bitter, “How come even an old geezer like him had someone with him for company, but I didn’t.” Well you have me! I retorted, you were the one insisting on solitude, duh. I probably made a face. He probably rolled his eyes. He left, but came back later that night. It was late, so perhaps we had dinner together in my room, eating whatever I could find in the kitchen. In between stretches of time it took for our songs to get downloaded on Napster, we might have whacked each other with rolled up paper, or in my case, grabbing whatever was around and throwing it at him. We might have teased each other and then soon he was getting all handsy trying to go for a back hug, if I had let him.
Though we were fast tracking to BFF status, I hardly had ever touched him or given him an opportunity to touch me. I have many close male friends in my life, but with all of them, it has always been no touching, without exception. Maybe once in a while, I might punch them or kick them if they deserve it, but even such occurrence is rare. To avoid touching the opposite sex until their intentions are declared, that was my method of self preservation. No touching means less chances for misunderstandings or unintended surprises. It was working pretty well for me before, so I never had reason to doubt it. Now, at 21, I just pushed him out of my way when I perceived that he was clearly itching to have his hands on me, I laughed it off, because I didn’t know what else to do. Player, this boy. Part of me was flattered that he would find me attractive in that way, so I wasn’t mad.
He was in the category of “friend, not mate” in my book at the time. We even talked about it at one point, as he witnessed me continuing my conquest of hot men and teased me about it. He told me about women he found attractive whom I knew. I told him I pity those women, because I felt like he was just looking for a rebound, which I didn’t want to take any part of. I had a history of being dumped by boyfriends, so naturally I didn’t want to get into a relationship to get dumped any time soon. He agreed that I sounded about right. He knew my intentions.
Yet that night, even after I blocked his advances, he still tried once again to establish some sort of physical contact. The moment soon passed, and we were cool again, turning our attention to the computer screen. Deep into the night, we continued to joke around, downloaded more songs, listening to music, surfing the web together. In the middle of sharing a smile over something funny, he just turned to face me and looked at me with this quiet look. I had my hair pulled up into a ponytail that night, so as I felt my cheeks burning, there was nothing to hide behind. Then his hand was gently upon my face. He pressed the tip of his forehead against my own forehead and then softly said, “You are cute, do you know that?” We paused together in that position until the song we were waiting for finished downloading less than 30 seconds later; he let go and went right back to the computer.
Perhaps I should have known a player when I met one. He caught me when all my guards were down. But after he left that night, after I closed the door behind me, I sat down to take a look at that girl he found cute in the mirror, trying to see what he saw. Her eyes were still shinning and her cheeks still flushed. I rather liked the compliment. Damn right I’m cute. At least his gesture was unconventional – I’ve never seen that move before. With that, I got my guards back up, went to bed, and slept well.
I was very dense when it came to men-women relationship back in those days. While I spent a lot of my time and energy chasing after boys, I tried not to make any assumptions until things were spelled out for me. I blush and get flustered so easily that I was mad at myself many times. The best way to go was just to not assume a guy has interests in me until he or someone tells me explicitly about it. Because as soon as those words get said, I can’t be my comfortable self again. I would feel so self conscious, it would have been exhausting for me to hang out with him. It all had to do with my inexperience, I think.
This time around, I somehow miraculously managed to brush the first strange encounter aside, and continued to hang out with him in BFF mode. But like a floodgate, once open, things could only quickly rush through until all is destroyed in its path. Even in BFF mode, we were spending almost all of our free moments together. When we were not seeing each other, he would call me on the phone, sometimes waking me up in the morning, since I was a late sleeper. It didn’t feel weird, though we were existing in our own hyperspace of togetherness and ignoring everyone else. We didn’t even pause to wonder why he was still spending nights at my place when he had already moved into a place 5 miles from my house and less than 5 minutes from his work place. So it was inevitable that 1 week later we would end up in bed together, his arms enfolding me, forehead touching forehead, knees touching knees. Initially. Then the position changed to him holding me as if he was an envelope and I was the content. I had never slept with a man before at 21, but I had been held in bed by men, had spent nights, mornings, afternoons, together, under blankets and in the arms of them. But noone had ever held me in such ways. I didn’t know I wanted to be held in such ways until they were upon me.
So it was that I fell in love, and part of me got swept up and fell hard for the one guy I didn’t want to fall for. The other part of me knew something was wrong. She detached herself, stepped back and, as if observing us from another dimension, she saw how he began to squirm and clearly between his struggles and resistance, fighting his own battle, he was no longer thinking of me at that moment. Until he finally gave up and got out of bed; not looking at me. He said I’m sorry
It was a Monday.
I can’t –
go to the end of the world with you
see where the rainbow ends
find where the sky divides the rain
and look with you for where the sky
(because the day is hardly long enough
and the night gets shorter as each day
goes by) – I can’t see you to the end of each night
to where the world ends
where the rain divides
and where the sky…
and the rainbow…
(… turns white…)