You were the one that everyone wanted. I really didn’t like that I was part of the everyone, but not enough to force myself to stop thinking about you. My locker was right above yours and sometimes I’d drop my notebook in your direction and on purpose. I could barely look at you though. I had mastered the art of being invisible and staying out of your way. It sounds pathetic but back then it made sense and it felt like my only option. You ignored me too, so everything felt fair. But my elusive was different than yours. Mine was bursting with an agenda. Yours was authentically vacant. You were precocious and so comfortable. You walked down the stairs, through the courtyard, across the auditorium with such ease. You moved through the hallways like they were yours. You coasted, fueled by your confidence and by girls like me who blindly adored you. I didn’t know how to be. I was still growing into that. I kept my distance and I stayed behind. You sprinted ahead. I was young and I didn’t risk anything. You never found out how I felt because my feelings were unfounded and I wasn’t ready to explain them. I always wondered why I was drawn to you but mostly I wondered why for so long I had focused on the one who wasn’t drawn to me.
You were the one I didn’t expect. We first met in a hallway. It was mine, not yours. And that part calmed me down a little. You were wearing all black and carrying a guitar. You were a cliché. I didn’t care. I liked how you kept quiet. You forced me to face the silence. I filled the air with what you left for me. My little legs shook when we were together and I think you liked that part. You played off of the power I submitted. But you did not care the way I did. You were distracted. I took it seriously because you were my first everything. I let you know and it wasn’t easy. You were selective with your effort and I could never tell what was coming next. Months melted and then you said goodbye on the bed and my walls were stripped and then I was frozen. I let you have the silence this time. I didn’t even fight for it. You left and didn’t hesitate. I stayed and sat in it because I was scared and hadn’t done any of that before. And then when I picked myself up and walked out, I was numb all over. But I still felt the scar you had given me. It made a mark and it stayed there to remind me that you didn’t care the way I had hoped you would.
You were the one younger one. Only by a year but I made sure to treat it like much more. You were the first to arrive. I helped move you into your tiny room and we talked and talked. Everyone else scattered and closed their doors, but you stayed put. I wasn’t used to the attention and I took it for granted. You listened and remembered the little nothings I shared with you. And later you wrote me notes and slid them under my door. You painted and drew and scribbled things. I kept and saved and loved all of them but I didn’t want you to know, just in case. I tested you and broke you because it was easier than moving closer to the alternative. You forgave me and kept on forgiving. And after a while I came around and you were still there waiting and so I kissed you on the sidewalk. It was nice but it was only a moment. You had become sick of waiting and I could feel it. And then you left because it didn’t feel the way it should have. By the time I felt comfortable caring, it was way too late. I was overwhelmed so I chose to let us expire and then your care turned to ambivalence turned to aversion and so we never had a fair chance.
You were the one who wouldn’t show it in the beginning. We both knew something was there though. You sought me out and I thought it was a mistake at first. But it wasn’t. You made sure that I knew you wanted to know more about me. You asked so many questions and I asked you some in return. You kept talking and I absorbed every drop of it. I stayed awake so I could meet you. We liked staying up late and learning about each other. I listed my fears and then we made promises to tackle them. You told me I should go after what I want. You liked to hike and read and use the kitchen. We liked to look at each other and say nothing. We could do that without it feeling weird. Your eyes read mine and sometimes I could hear them when you stared at me. You were hesitant though and you wouldn’t let me get too far and then I touched the spot where we broke. Everything between us became filtered and indirect. You trickled off and left it up to me to wonder. You gave me the chance to make up a reason for why it had faded. And I lingered over the guessing for so long and that was the worst part.
You were the one who showed up. You just kept appearing and I was bored. I acted ungrateful and unsure. But I kept carving out more of my time for you because I was curious. You rode your bike and made breakfast and didn’t worry so much. You let me talk for as long as I needed to feel comfortable lying there on my half of the bed. And so I let you in because it felt natural and because you balanced me. You chose your words wisely and didn’t hide behind them like I sometimes did. You checked on me, you paid attention to details, and you kept me warm. I didn’t appreciate you until much later. Until you were packed and wrapping up. And then when you left without a word, it hit me. I retraced my steps and wrote to you and let you into all of my thoughts. But it was easier to do because I had nothing to lose but also nothing to gain. And so once I was alone again, I made a promise. I told myself that next time instead of looking for a sign or waiting a moment or drafting a perfect sentence, I’d be the one to like first and then love hard and without so much fear. Because it’s time and because I’m ready and because I’m going to let go of this pattern and build a new one. Because I finally want what I’ve carefully kept from myself for so long.
A | A | A
Shannon is the best kept secret of the 80s!
Scott Hoy is a lawyer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On this particular commercial however, Hoy perhaps should have asked for a retrial.
You split time between the now and after.
I truly believe that tolerance is dangerous.