I Regret Not Kissing You That Night

Noah Kalina
Noah Kalina

“Can I call you?”

It was December 31st, 2013, 20 minutes away from an onslaught of shrieking, banging on pots, quirky pops from champagne bottles. Mouths everywhere desperately trying to locate another pair that will make do. God forbid you don’t kiss someone at midnight. That’s like, 10 years of bad luck or something.

My night never went like that. Not a big fan of holidays that expect a large amount of build up, I typically prefer spending the night inside. Alone. In bed. Maybe watch the ball drop. But more likely just binge on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. A show that I’ve seen so many times, I’m fairly confident I could become a Slayer by proxy.

And before you cry POOR, FRIENDLESS ARI, I got invites! I wasn’t without opportunity to drink the night away with people I loved, liked, or somewhat tolerated. But when it came to New Year’s, I always claimed I had prior plans, a tiny lie to relieve both parties of guilt. Lying, man. It gets a bad rap, but I find it to be the most logical solution in things like this. If I were to say, “No thank you. I want to sit in my own unshowered filth, wearing my ex boyfriend’s sweat pants, while eating an entire bag of Pirate’s Booty,” said person I was talking to would then feel bad. It’s not the most glamorous image I’ve painted of myself. Maybe they’d feel the need to try harder. POOR, FRIENDLESS ARI, she’s obviously depressed and needs a night out!

Instead, I graciously give thanks for the invite, but explain unfortunately I made other plans for the evening. Happy New Year! Be safe!

My phone lit up.

Excluding my own mother, ‘call me’ messages weren’t ones I generally received, and that was for good reason. I, like so many other socially inept millennials, get massive phone anxiety. You want to call me? Why? What for? Please, tell me, in detail, what it is you want before I commit to hearing your voice on the other end. Is it an emergency? If so, please hang up and dial 9-1-1.

I’ve been fearful about a lot of things in life, so maybe using I’m Just A Shitty Millennial as an excuse isn’t a valid one. My parents never gave me the, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it?” speech because they knew I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near a bridge to begin with. Those things are scary! And communicating with another human being on THE PHONE? Double yikes.

But there it was.

“Can I call you?”

And for some unknown reason, I said yes. So, you called. I smiled and we laughed and people counted down to midnight with us still on the phone. You said, “Happy New Year.” And I said, “Back at you.”

You asked if I wanted to meet up. We were only 10 minutes apart, but my panic took over. So I said no.

And I still regret it.

I regret not admitting that I reciprocated your feelings.

I never got a chance to tell you how meaningful whatever we had was. I’m not sure what held me back. Maybe it was my fear or, more likely, pure stubbornness. I didn’t want to admit every time you laughed, my cheeks blushed bright red. I didn’t want to admit I was letting my mind wander, that I was letting my heart’s guard down and began imagining us together. Us, laughing and arguing over the dumbest stuff.

I’ve always hated the idea that timing can screw something up. But I can’t help from wondering how life would have unraveled had we met when I was more open, more willing to dive in.

There’s no way to know. But I still think about that night. I think about what would have happened if I just kissed you. TC mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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