It surrounded us.
We lay there on my bed. She slept quietly, and I couldn’t help but watch her. She has been gone for so long. So much time has passed. I wondered if it would even be the same at all…
My best friend (and until that point the love of my life) came in from the Ukraine this past weekend. She visited family first and then Thursday I picked her up at the bus stop. When she got off the bus, I lifted her into the air. There she was. Right in front of me. I could see her. Touch her. That was her voice. Inches away from my heart.
We drove 45 minutes to get her a tattoo… It was incredible. The artist, Jared Ray is fantastic. He is a portrait artist in a hole-in-the-wall shop in Mexico, Missouri, and his interpretation of her great grandmother on her forearm was breathtaking. After genuinely intellectual conversation with a strikingly talented man, we continued on our way. One more memory that we could put down in the stories of our lives. The stories that I’m sure someday we will share with our grandkids. Grandkids that I hoped one day would be the product of us both, together. For nearly five years I’ve been in love with her.
We met up with friends from College afterwards at a crowded frat bar, and cringed as we looked around at all of the younger students. Is this what we looked like? Girls falling out of their chairs, because they’ve drank more than they could possibly handle, all the while hovering near the bathroom in case of an emergency.
It must have been, because two hours later, as the bar was closing, my girls followed me out into the street. As I’ve said before, I no longer drink. I’m completely sober, so I offered to drive everyone home to avoid a taxi.
When we left it took approximately two minutes for one of the girls to get sick in the back of my car. Luckily she managed to get her head out the window. Just in time to reveal her to a passing police officer. The police in Columbia have much bigger worries than a girl puking down the side of a car, so he just shook his head and continued on along his “not so merry because it’s College night in Columbia” way.
By the end of the night I had two girls in the back seat holding plastic bags, and one in the front sleeping with a spilled plate of nachos in her lap. I couldn’t say a word. There were way to many nights in college where I did some variation of the same thing.
My best friend and I dropped them off at the end of the evening, and made our way back to my house. We fell into bed, happy for the comfort of a pillow and blanket, and she quickly drifted off to sleep. Now mind you she was intoxicated, and not at all shy, so there she laid next to me in her undergarments. Fully covered by the blanket on top, but snuggled up against my chest.
Five years ago this very thing happened. It was my freshman year. I had just gotten back home from a bar (imagine that) and it was around 2 a.m. I was being followed/ accompanied by me ex-girlfriend. Again, I make terrible decisions when I drink. We were heading back to my room, and I just happened to live two doors down from the best friend. As we tried to slip past she spotted us.
“You (she pointed at my ex) go (she pointed to my door). You (she pointed to me) come here.”
Now I had only known her for a few months, but we were already very close and I already knew I liked her. I would sit outside her door and listen to her sing from her bedroom, along with half of our hallway. She finally realized what we were all doing, so she began to leave the door open. Hence, why she could see me passing by that night. I would do virtually anything she told me to, so I nodded to my ex to go on, and went back to my best friends room.
“Are you drunk?” She asked.
“No.” I lied.
“Tell her to go home. If you still want to see her tomorrow when you’re sober, then you can.” She was looking out for me.
I walked down to my room and told my then irate ex that she needed to go back to her room. That started a deep seeded hate between the two of them on my ex’s behalf that we still joke about today. I find it much funnier than she does.
When my ex left, I walked back down to her room.
“She’s gone.” My best friend looked at me and smiled. She had been drinking a little herself. She lifted her pillow up from off her bed, and threw it across her shoulder.
She walked out of hr room, and down to mine. Walked in and climbed into my bed. I was baffled. Was this really happening? Was this even remotely real life? Mind you it was my freshman year. I had just gone away to college. Leaving the smallest town, with the smallest mind in Tennessee. Beautiful straight women didn’t climb into bed with lesbians.
But there she was lying next to me. We cuddled for a while. Face to face. Cheek to cheek, before my lips slowly found hers. We made out for a while, it seemed like hours, but I’m fairly certain that it was no more than thirty minutes. I just remember telling her that she had the most amazing lips.
She slept that night in my arms, and I stared quietly at her. Afraid that if I fell asleep, she would vanish. Of course she didn’t. The next morning we awoke. She gathered her belongings, and I walked her to the doorway. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. She backed me slowly against a dresser. Her hands placed ever so gently on my arms and leaned in.
At that moment, the girl across the hall burst into my room.
“Tenn, have you seen… Oh!”
Naturally my friend stepped back. I jumped, and silently began freaking out in my mind. Did she see? Will she tell? Does it matter? There I was as close to perfection as possible, and this girl had to ruin it. My biggest fear was that it would change things between us. And it did.
From that point, I was in love. It didn’t matter how many times she told me that it was a one-time thing (that we just happened to repeat a few more times later on.) We would occasionally drink way too much, and find ourselves back in that same position. She had a few boyfriends, I dated a number of people, but she never left my mind.
I shoved it into the back of my head and moved on with my life. When I would feel scared, or lonely, I would pull out a picture of her, and play a clip of her singing. She had the most beautiful voice. Looking back now, I’m certain that had a lot to do with my attraction. I’m a sucker for talent. Especially of the musical persuasion.
We still stayed friends over the years. Her constantly blushing at my obnoxiously blatant passes at her. All of our friends became accustomed to the idea. One told me later, that had she not have grown up around, she would never have understood our friendship.
Fast forward to this past Thursday. She laid quietly, head on my chest and I looked at her long dark hair, olive skin and full lips. I realized that something in me had changed. While I still found her to be very attractive, it was different. I still loved her. My heart aches at the thought. I love her more than I love myself.
But I’m no longer in love with her. We can talk about sex, sexuality, friendship, partners etc, and I’m unaffected. Occasionally I will get a sharp sting of pain. Almost like a flashback. Usually when she sings. There I am. Freshman year. Staring eye to eye to the most beautiful girl in the world.
Then I am here again. I see my best friend. The girl I couldn’t live without. The girl whose grandkids will grow up knowing my grandkids. The girl who I will take family vacations with, only bringing along our partners as well.
I love her. I’m not in love with her. My heart is free. It is free to feel about someone else, the way that I once felt about her. She is straight. She has always been straight. She simply felt what I felt. An attraction. A love so strong that we misinterpreted it for something that it wasn’t.
She left today, and I cried. I feel like a piece of my heart drove off to Chicago, soon to be back in the Ukraine. She will always have a piece. Despite where we’re at. We joke that when she returns, she will come and live with me in L.A.
I would love that. Waking up, to the sound of my best friends voice, echoing through the halls of my LA apartment. Walking through the door to reveal those striking green eyes. My heart, whole once more.
Hopefully you'll understand why...
Make You feel My Love- Rachel Gaynes