I remember the moment clearly, but at the time, I didn’t find it particularly significant except perhaps an embarrassing situation barely avoided. I was sitting in health class, a timid girl feeling all alone in a room full of 30-something kids. The teacher called for everyone to get into groups. I always HATED when teachers did this to me. I had two options. I could actually talk to someone I don’t know and invite myself to join their group or just wait it out, hoping someone would notice me and invite me to join their group. I, of course, chose the second. I always did. Talking to people I didn’t know was always too difficult, although I’m not sure why. Pretty much everyone was grouped up, except me, when I almost started to panic. At that moment, the only person I knew – or I should say, recognized – invited me into a group or 4 or 5 boys. The boys were nice and introduced themselves to me and I noticed one, his name was Matt. He had a CTR ring on and was kind. I didn’t feel worried anymore.
As the weeks rolled by, Matt and I became friends. The teacher always left a few minutes at the end of class and Matt would always take that opportunity to talk to me. I knew that he had a little crush on me, but I didn’t think anything of it. At that point, I was almost sixteen which meant I could start dating soon, and I was keeping my options open. There was one boy that had caught my attention. I met him at a dance and had heard through the grapevine that, apparently, I had caught his attention too.
There it was. The phone call I was waiting for. The boy from the dance was asking me on a date. I was not yet sixteen, but by next Friday, when the date was set, I would be. Perfect timing.
I was so nervous. I sat at the piano and played as fast as I could. The tempo matching my heart rate, until “ding dong” and they both stopped. I was nervous to begin with, but fear began to paralyze me when I realized that I didn’t know a single person in the van. Heck, I barely knew my date. Yeah, we danced together a few times and he was a friend of a friend and such, but just like that one moment in health class, I felt alone. Whatever charm I had that night we danced had melted away. It was just me and I was terrified. Why? I’m not sure. I liked him a lot and wanted to leave a good impression, so, of course, I do the exact opposite. It’s not that we had much opportunity to talk since we just went to a movie, but even the time before and after the movie, I was pretty much mute. So that was that. My friend confirmed what I already knew. He wasn’t interested anymore. Who would be interested in a boring girl, a girl like me.
My next date couldn’t have been more contrasting. Matt, of course, took the opportunity to ask me on a date. We went swing dancing at the MAC. I had so much fun. It surprised me. I thought I was doomed to be that boring girl from a few weeks ago. The one who, no matter how hard she tried, could not think of one interesting or charming thing to say. Well, I was a different girl tonight. Matt made sure I was comfortable and that each moment was enjoyable. See, I wasn’t boring. Matt didn’t think so.
As our high school career continued, Matt and I became even better friends. Even though I was vaguely aware that Matt had some attraction to me, I didn’t think that it was anything more than that. I didn’t realized how hurtful it was when I would date one of his best friends or when I would talk to him about boys that I liked. In fact, most of the time, I took his loyalty and kindness for granted.
It wasn’t until after we graduated that I truly appreciated the type of friendship we had. We could talk about anything. He was the one person who understood me. We would take any situation we were in and turn it into a fun adventure. The summer after graduation was mostly like a dream. We would start out in groups, hanging out. We learned how to rock climb. We would go on a hike. Slowly the group faded away until it was just the two of us. Some days, we would spend the whole day together, doing some sort of marathon activity like hike then rock climb then go biking and then go dancing until the day was done. I was surprised that even though we spent so many hours together, we never ran out of things to say. But still, we were friends, best friends, but only friends.
When I went away to college, I felt alone once again. I knew people from high school and my roommates really were nice, but I needed someone else. I needed Matt. We would email each other every day. Every single day. Sometimes more. We kept them lighthearted and silly, but every single chance I got, I was on that computer checking my email. I counted down the days until I could see him again. One time, when I went home, we planned a great adventure. We went rock climbing up Big Cottonwood Canyon at a place called “The Slips.” There we did a 2-pitch climb for the first time. It was easy, but the reward was at the top. Instead of going up and down a cliff, we went up and then up again, until we were at the very top of the cliff, just the two of us. It was beautiful seeing the canyon this way. We sat next to each other in a little nook and both of us felt it, but neither of us did anything about it. We just sat in silence- having nothing to say for the first time. I was suspicious before, but now I knew that I needed Matt to be more than a friend. We went out to eat covered in climbing chalk, feeling like we were cool even though we probably just looked silly. Then we went to a movie. I thought “this is it” and it was. It was the end of our friendship as we knew it, but the beginning of something new.
to be continued