that feeling of feeling

We were sitting in a corner booth at a dimly lit bar-- the whole group of us laughing, talking over one another, taking pictures and nursing beers between our hands. I made people move so I could sit next to you, and ten minutes later, I made them move again so I could leave.

I picked a fight*.

 

When I talked to a friend the next day, she told me what you said to her outside the bar when you came running out after me, but I was already too far down the street. She told me the excuses you used for why this has never been more than what it is-- the same excuses you told me not too long ago.

But your excuses do not absolve you from your actions.

And your actions have said otherwise.

 

To your excuses, I say this:

You've been broken and I've been broken, and we're all hurting, one way or another. And it doesn't make us special, and it doesn't make us singular-- it makes us human. It's what brings us together-- above all else, what people have gone through in the past should be the driving factor to get to their future. It should be the fire in your belly to do better, to do more. To treat people kindly because you know what it's like to be discarded.

You can't hide behind the pain. None of us can. But especially not you. You're too smart and funny and charming and talented. You're all these things I'm not sure you realize. You're all these things I never realized for years, because I never thought of you in that way until one day I did.

 

June of 2015-- I sat in the grass and you sat in a chair next to me. My best friend (the same one you stopped outside the bar a few nights ago) watched on as you and I started looking at each other in a way we never had before. It's like we started seeing each other for the first time.

It only took 8 years.

You got up to get a beer and I looked at her, unable to articulate what I was thinking and she said, "I know. I can feel it, too. What's going on with you guys?"

 

And that's the question I've been asked by people ever since: what's going on with you guys? Two years of what's going on with you guys? because no one believes me (sometimes, myself included) when I say we're just friends.

But four months after that night in June, the lines blurred. And they've blurred on and off ever since.

 

I say on and off because I have tried (unsuccessfully) to have relationships with other people. If it wasn't going to be you, then I was going to find someone else. I've gone on dating apps and out on first dates. I've met people at bars and I've had drinks with friends of friends.

And after things fell apart with the guy I dated last year, I was worried I would cling to you and hurt you in the fallout. So, I set boundaries.

No more of this, unless...

No more of that, until...

It lasted a few months.

 

And then I met someone else this summer. And then you also met this someone else. And I reminded myself that we're just friends, so this shouldn't be a big deal. But I couldn't shake the urge to want to reach for you, instead of him.

 

It's been messy ever since...and that's on me.

 

I picked a fight because I knew the answer already, I just needed you to say it.

I picked a fight because I want to hit rock bottom and the only thing standing in the way of that is you.

Well, not so much you-- but the idea of you.

I picked a fight because I was mad at myself...for fucking it up.

I picked a fight because you were talking to someone else for a few minutes at the bar and I got a taste of what it must have felt like for you to see me with someone else.

 

I picked a fight because I knew all along I was the one who was going to get hurt. You told me where you stood, how you felt. And I didn't listen.

But I'm listening now.

And maybe that's the lesson.

 

 

*I apologized two days later. He apologized, too. But, truthfully, I don't think either of us know what the fuck we were apologizing for.