Before You Asked Her To Marry You

woman showing her silver-colored ring
Andrik Langfield / Unsplash

Your engagement was sudden. The ring was beautiful and her hand looked gorgeous in it. The photo caption read something like “so happy to spend the rest of my life with you” or “I said yes to the love of my life.” It was Christmas time. A couple of months after your birthday and a few weeks before mine. She had never met me and I didn’t know much about her.  But I knew what you were doing on the nights you told her you’d be out with friends.

We had history. Going back farther than yours with her. Our friendship began with innocent conversation but a forbidden connection that we couldn’t give in to. I don’t think there was ever a doubt in my mind that you were someone I’d fall for. I don’t know that there was ever one in yours. We looked at each other and really understood what the other was thinking.  We talked as if we had known each other our whole lives. Our interests were the same. We were born to meet and we were meant to be in each other’s lives, in some unknown and confusing way that we were never really sure about.

I was young and you were three years older, which seemed like ten. You were working for my father and I was always coming by after school. You would pick me up from school or practice, yelling out of your mom’s minivan window in an attempt to embarrass me. You showed up to my games with other players on your baseball team, which my father had coached. You stood at the highest step of the bleachers and screamed my name at the top of your lungs. You were obnoxious and I loved it. You saw me before my first semi-formal dance. You said nothing because you couldn’t. But you didn’t have to.

We had spent hours upon hours together in my kitchen while my parents, my brothers and your best friends were in the other room. They never questioned why we’d sit at the table and play Uno but that is all we ever did and it quickly became obvious that it wasn’t enough. We just sat there, across the table from each other, weekend after weekend, but we never even touched.

A few years later, after you’d thrown me into the pool at my Sweet Sixteen and threatened my high school boyfriend, I finally got to college. The first chance you got, you came to visit. You drove two and a half hours to hang out with me, a girl who had just been… a friend? more? Less? You didn’t know and neither did I. I had butterflies the night you pulled up in your shitty car. I took you to my freshman dorm room and introduced you to all my new friends. They didn’t understand how someone who seemed so old and grown drove through half of New England to visit me. We played Uno on my dorm room floor all night.

When it was time for bed, naturally you slept in mine. The nervous but excited feeling in my stomach only grew with intensity as the night approached this point. We lay next to each other and you were my big spoon. We pretended to watch whatever was on my 10-inch television in the corner of the room. We definitely laughed at how awkward and different this moment truly was. This was really happening and we were really alone and there was really no one to catch us or interrupt. I nearly died when you placed your hand on my waist, even more so when I felt your breathing on the back of my neck. I had felt an attraction to you for years at that point but had never given into it and neither had you. I knew you wanted me to turn around but I held off for as long as I could. I finally did when I couldn’t be far away any longer and you kissed me like I had never been kissed. You kissed me with the force of four years of friendship, frustration and impatient waiting.

After years of texting and flirting and playing Uno and pretending there was nothing between us, it all became very clear in a very serious and personal way that we were no longer just friends, if we ever really were just that.

You told my mother you loved me a couple years later. You were drunk but so was everyone else. It was my brother’s birthday. I had been in a relationship and so had you. We hadn’t seen each other in months. But, as we had realized long before, time and other people were never going to get in between what we had, friendship or more. Even if we loved those people, when the time came for the relationship to end, we had each other. We never dated, I never came over for dinner with your parents and you were never introduced as my boyfriend to anyone of importance. You were just you. And we thought that was enough. At least I thought it was.

I graduated college and started law school. I was single and you were not. It had been a while since I had seen you but being given the freedom of living in the city changed that. Despite your relationship status, you asked me to meet you for a drink. You were with friends and so was I. That was the first night you cheated on her with me. It was the first of a few. I was selfish but held onto the romantic idea that you wanted me and this was finally it. We had waited nearly ten years for this and here we were.

If I had known you were going to propose to her, I would have told you that I loved you. I would have told you that I was pretty sure I had loved you since I was 14 years old.

After the engagement, you wished me a happy birthday, and I congratulated you on asking someone other than me to spend the rest of their life with you. And I may never forgive you for that. TC mark

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