When I sat down at Einstein Bro’s Bagels to meet Cole for our typical pre-drinks coffee routine, he was grinning. We exchange idle daily recaps before he leans into the table,
“I got a girlfriend”.
What was a happy grin to him, was a beaming smile on my face. I could feel endorphins rush through my body and my cheeks get warm and rosy. True happiness spread through me as I squealed and let out a, “WHAT?!!”.
Over drink, he fills me in on how they met; while he was on a business trip in Singapore. What she does; a grad student getting her mba, what she’s like etc. He hands me his phone so I can indulge in Facebook stalking her photos.
For the next two and half hours I’m filled with true joy and giggles. The last serious relationship he had, left him more broken than I knew was possible. And since, Cole hasn’t found someone worthy of a second or third date in years.
After the initial rush of adrenaline and my childish jokes and jabs subsided, I realized part of me wasn’t so content.
I would be lying had I said that I never once thought about dating Cole. Of course I have. In high school we spent more time with each other than our own siblings, we made efforts to visit each other in college, we like the same sports and activities, etc. If one person was down we would have empty Skype calls, just in case, they decide to share what’s bothering them. Just so they don’t feel alone. It’s the sort of relationship that would breed an epic rom-com.
Cole and I have tip-toed the line of flirtation. Nothing serious. Just little things that imply people are slightly more than friends. The occasional cuddle while watching a movie alone, I would borrow his sweaters and shirts, his hand would lightly hold my lower thigh during casual conversation.
In college, I would visit him but stay with my brother in his studio apartment. One night where my brother brought a girl home leaving me homeless at 3am, I called him up asking to crash. At the time Cole had 3 roommates – one room- 3 guys. I asked for some blankets so I could crash on the floor next to his bed, but he refused and said we could share. (This isn’t going where you think it is). Truthfully I was much happier with that instead of sleeping on the carpeted floor of male dorm room. I rolled into bed and pressed myself against the wall to make as much room in the twin bed as possible. He realizes what I’m doing after a couple minutes and pulls my head towards his until our foreheads are touching.
“Don’t be stupid, we can share the pillow”
And that’s how we fell asleep.
Nothing more has ever happened between us. I put these overly close moments to flashes of weakness during periods of loneliness. We crave contact and knew there was someone with which we could satisfy that, but without crossing lines.
And thus we have maintained an awesome drama-free 12-year friendship.
So when he officially came off the market I started playing the What If game.
“What if I had kissed him then? What if we had tried dating?”
And then it turns to:
“What if she doesn’t like me? (A predicament that has happened in the past) What if I don’t like her? What if she doesn’t like him hanging out with another girl? What if she thinks I’m a threat? Am I a threat?”
The next morning I woke up with a slight hangover from our post-coffee-drinks, now drinking pre-breakfast coffee at home. It was then I realized my concern isn’t that I’ve missed my shot with him, it wasn’t possessiveness I was feeling. It was loneliness. My best friend, who I relied on for support and company and he who relied on me, now has someone else to support and someone who he can lean on, someone else to have pre-drinks coffee with, someone else to have next morning hangover coffee with.
Leaving me, alone drinking coffee at home, and not at Einstein Bro’s Bagels.
And then the phone rings.
“Wanna have lunch?”