I thought about you on the lightrail, in my cubicle, in the aisles of the grocery store where the cashier flirted with me. Every event brought a story to giggle to you later, faces pixilated and blurry on one another’s computer screens. Between my laughter and your math homework complaints, you linked me to music videos, songs I already knew by heart but pretended were new so I could watch you smile at my excitement. For months, I wondered what it meant.
I imagined what it would be like when we were finally in the same place again. I wanted to walk up your driveway, wrap my arms around your neck and kiss you full on the mouth. I would lean back, eyes glistening and breath thick in the December cold, and say, ‘I want to be with you.’
Then they offered a permanent job, and how could I turn it down? We’d hinted at long-distance before, you saying you were watching your buddy do it and you couldn’t fathom doing it yourself, and me saying I’d done it once and had no interest in trying it again.
I dreamed about you on the plane home, heading nodding nervously to Jay-Z and fingers digging into the plastic armrests as we bounced through heavy clouds and drizzle. We landed roughly on the runway, skidding stressfully to a stop. The next several hours were a blur of family hugs, finding that my ex had dropped off the last of my things, chattering friends and swapping presents at IHOP. Then we were texting, and suddenly you were climbing in my car outside a party, asking if it was okay for you to smoke.
‘It’s too cold to smoke outside, and I already lit it…’ you trailed off, and I leaned across the seat to open your door.
We walked up your driveway and it was just like I’d imagined, only I couldn’t bring myself to throw my arms around your lanky frame. It wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be fair at all, I whispered in my head. I can’t ask him to do that.
But you stopped. You turned to me, my hair a mess from the humidity and crammed sloppily under my Longhorns cap, and you grabbed me up in your arms and lifted my feet off the ground and spun me in a circle.
‘I’m so glad you’re here right now,’ you said, and I smiled, knowing that for the first time in months, I was happy to be exactly where I was.
‘I am too,’ I said, lips pressed to your ear.
Hours later I curled close to your body, head resting on your bare arm.
‘Are you going to take the job?’ you asked.
And it was the conversation I wished we’d had three weeks prior, at the point where your opinion could have swayed me — but how could I have told you that I cared what you wanted? You were just a friend. A friend I couldn’t stop and kiss and ask to be only mine.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I don’t really have a choice, do I?’
You were quiet.