I’m the kind of person who tends to fuck everything up. Friendships, relationships, casual dating situations—you name it. Self–doubt always creeps in—does this person really like me? Am I comfortable hanging out with them? Why put in the effort to talk to someone new when I can have a fun conversation with one of my friends? I cut things off, I get way too sensitive, I infect people with my angst. And then, after I do those things, I lie awake kicking myself for doing them. But with you, things are kind of different. You rejected me, my all–time fear! But our friendship survived. And I’m actually happy about that!

About a year ago, you and I both broke up with guys a couple days apart. I was full of angst, but you talked to me. You’d already had way more experience than I’d had, but you didn’t make me feel inferior because of that. We got coffee and we talked for hours. And then, just as I was beginning to figure out how much I appreciated you, you left for Europe for four months. I don’t know whether it was our long text conversations or the aura that surrounded you while you were gone, but somehow I began crushing really hard. Every time you sent me snaps, I would swoon and tell my friends, “his eyes are so beautiful!” My friends got tired of hearing me talk about it, but I didn’t care. I was in love!

I couldn’t let well enough alone: I decided to tell you. By text. While you were still away. I spent twenty minutes trying to write a text that seemed flattering but not too clingy, as if my exact tone would make or break whatever romantic possibilities existed. I sent it and went to dinner with friends, took a shower, cleaned my room, and ignored my phone for three hours. Then I opened your reply: Thanks for telling me all this, it means a lot, but I don’t think so.

Ahhh! I’d blown it! I’d killed my dream and almost definitely burned bridges with someone who’d become a valuable friend (despite being across the globe). That night I got really drunk at a party and wandered around the city for several hours in the dark. I was inconsolable.

Then, the next morning, you texted me.

Hi, you said. You were at some hacking event and were looking for suggestions for music to put on a website you were designing.

Wow. Seeing your name in my notifications was the last thing I expected. I assumed you were trying to be kind and reach out, and so I thought of a couple songs and replied. Nice move, Jackson! I thought. You should have left him on read. You don’t need him anymore!

But our relationship didn’t turn out to be about retaliation. Still, we didn’t talk that much for a while, and after the first couple days, I began to get over you. The weather was warm and my friends hung out with me in the sunshine and helped me take my mind off of you. When summer came, I looked forward to getting some time away from the city. I’d applied to spend a month at the beach doing architecture research. You’d gotten back to the States. When I got to Wildwood, I texted you and said hi. You should come down and visit sometime, I said, thinking this invitation was as meaningful as the many lunch plans that people make on Locust every day. Your response flabbergasted me: Let’s find a weekend! I was confused—I thought you’d never want to see me again after everything weird that had gone down. But I was also excited—Wildwood is a nifty place, and I knew we could go on a hella bar crawl! (Or ride some roller coasters or something? I hadn’t thought about it yet!)

So you came to visit me! I was so nervous to see you that an hour before you arrived on the bus, I had two shots of vodka at my friend’s house to ease my nerves. But when you came, everything was OK! I didn’t need to worry! We rode the Ferris wheel, we talked about music, we got drunk. It was all right. Everything was in the past. Our friendship was a sunny, beachy haze with Summer Salt playing in the background.

Except that my feelings came back, dammit. Back at Penn, the first time I saw you, I panicked. When you walked in the room, my friend next to me must have thought I was crazy. “Oh my god! It’s him! Does he see me? I’m gonna go to the bathroom! Wait! I have to pass him to get there! I’ll just duck! No, that looks stupid! Is my hair OK?” And throughout some of the fall, I was confused when we went to bars together as part of a larger group of friends. I saw all these couples getting happy hour drinks together, and I wished that they were us. I was in a better place about you (and even started going out with other guys), but I still couldn’t figure out what I was feeling.

After a few months, though, my feelings began going away. Gradually, but still! I realized that our personalities would never work together. I noticed that I’m not really your physical type, and I sure wasn’t gonna go to the gym and make that happen. And I found that you’re way more fun when I’m sharing weird Tinder screenshots and groovy memes with you than you’d be if we were anything more than friends. You’re a cool guy, and it would be a shame to waste that on a relationship, which would probably have ended quickly anyway, since I’m a massive flake.

Thanks for being there for me, even when it didn’t really benefit you. Thanks for going to gay bars with me and enduring the free tater tots that super–ripped bartenders sometimes give us because they think we’re together. And most of all, thanks for not writing me off after I told you how I felt. While there’s no promises I’ll feel this way tomorrow, right now, I’m sitting here in the oddly warm breeze and feeling peace about all this, and it’s pretty groovy. 


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