Back before I came out to myself, life was a bit weirder than I was told it was going to be. There was a lot of confusing sexual stuff which I didn’t even realize was confusing at the time. Those memories are little jokes to myself. Oh younger me, I think, you’re clearly so queer and so unaware. But then there’s the painful memories. Like the first time I really fell in love with a girl.
She was beautiful, of course, and full of life, and smart, and funny. Everyone fell in love with her, and I was the weird friend they usually used in order to get to her. My parents thought she was a bad influence on me but I didn’t care in the least.
Not that I would have ever told her, even if I knew. I’m a master at unrequited love. Unspoken desire is the language my heart knows best. Besides, if I could go back in time, if I could tell her, she would be disgusted and horrified. We drifted apart for a myriad of other reasons which will never change, but I would take the slow end to a long friendship over sacrificing it at any point on the altar of her loathing for same-sex love. Even if I had known, even in the moments when I almost did know, our friendship was always more important to me than my own need to express my feelings.
I haven’t let myself remember in so long. I barely let myself remember anything anymore. I have too many past lives.
We almost had a relationship, the way friends who live together sort of do. We almost acted like girlfriends sometimes. That was all I allowed myself to want. In some ways it was enough. It was more than I could have hoped for; she was far better than I at life and everyone was in love with her.
I watched as she went through terrible relationships with terrible guys. She talked with me about everything: the first exciting moments of newly sparked interest, the dates, the hand-holding, the chaste kisses, the red flags, the arguments, the way it fell apart.
And then she met the love of her life. My own life was absolutely barren of romance, a howling wilderness as far as the eye could see. So even now I find it impossible to tease out how much of the pain came from that unbearable contrast, and how much of it came from seeing someone care for her the way I wanted to. I had another painful unrequited love happening at the same time – I don’t always love just one person at a time – and I was honestly happy to see her finally happy.
Soon after they began dating, he sent her a link to some song that he said reminded him of her. And I listened to that song over and over, thinking to myself that I wished someone would say that to me. But beneath what I thought I was thinking, I really just wanted to say all those things to her myself. I listened to that song again today, as I occasionally do, and thought once more of being pulled into the inevitable, entrancing sway of her presence.
This is a series of cliches. I’m painfully aware of that. It’s been years, and now what hurts more than anything is knowing that she would be repulsed by this confession. Love for me has often been brutal, inevitable, and unrequited, a gift with no return, a wound with no balm, a story that never happened.