This is the story of how I fell in love with you. It begins, unlike most stories, not when you first said hello to me and decided that you were in love with me, but two years after we had become best friends and can only be told in a matter that is in no form linear. I hadn’t meant to fall in love with you. You were the last person on earth that I could ever see myself wanting to kiss, especially given how much I would joke around with you about how awkward it would be if you and I ever dated. Our laughter would grow even louder the minute someone mentioned how, given our nature, we could definitely survive a long distance relationship.
Like many jokes made about uncomfortable situations, it had a world of truth behind it. Nothing on earth could prepare for me for the awkwardness I was left with when you and I broke up. It had been so easy for us to find ourselves in a routine of boyfriend and girlfriend, so easy for our friends to switch seeing us as platonic love to a romance because it was only a short jump. However, falling out of our entanglement, where people had stopped seeing me as a separate entity of you and not even my closest friends knew how to discriminate between the two of us. No one was sure how to act around me anymore, possibly because they had no idea why I suddenly grew cold and told you I needed a break; trying their hardest to dance around the mere mention of you, not that any mention of you would be the slightest bit minor to my broken heart.
It was freeing to be done with you at first, enjoying all of the temptations I had lusted after for so long, like the ability to actually experience the physical intimacy that lacks in long-distance relationships. I found myself falling more in love with an idea of the kind of girl I could be: the kind who loves less, leaves before I am left, and seems cool and emotionally distant. You knew more than anyone that I was the kind of girl who fell hard, fell fast and ended up so hurt afterwards, no matter how much of a smile I would put on my face and how many “I’m doing great”s that I would flaunt around to anyone who asked me.
My love for you hit me like a train traveling as fast as it possibly could. I had been sitting in the fetal position on my couch, bawling my eyes out after our first ever fight, where you declared you and I could no longer be friends. I had no idea why, unlike most of the people in my life who left and in their wake I only hurt slightly, the thought of losing you seemed absolutely gut-wrenching. Rather than shedding a few silent tears and then fixing my makeup in an attempt to get on with my life, I became a sobbing mess. It was then, as I was dealing with my flood of tears and snot, that I suddenly stopped crying, stood up and declared in my heart that I loved you.
Instantly, my thoughts changed from losing my best friend to how I would get the man I loved back. I knew, as much as it terrified me, that the only way to do so would be to tell you how I felt. I resolved, knowing how full your plate was, that I would not allow my love to be a hindrance to you. I vowed to be your platonic friend until you were able to commit the time that someone should have for a relationship. You fought so hard for me to change my mind, for me to agree to be your girlfriend, and I lectured you on how much more important your studies were than me.
This resolution did not seem to last long. If anything, it caused us to bicker constantly, taking more time away from both of us than a relationship would have. We made amends after the Homecoming game, where we both poured our heart into the conversation and discussed everything on our minds. The next night, at the dance, we couldn’t keep our eyes off of each other and parting ways for more than a brief second was difficult. You were not my date, me having instead opted to invite my female best friend from another school to come with me, but you might as well have been. Her and I spent the entire evening with you and your friend, dancing the night away. I remember slow dancing with her while making faces at you as you jokingly danced with your friend in the way that only really close guy friends can. She pushed me to dance with you during the next song, “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes, and I confessed to you that that song was how I wanted a guy to make me feel, hinting at you. I sang the words quietly into your ear as we danced, hoping it would distract you from how loudly I knew my heart was beating in my chest. I had been so sure that everyone else could hear it, even as the DJ switched the ending song to cumbia, and you stepped back, announcing you didn’t know how to dance to it.
It made me so happy to teach you how to dance to cumbia and watch you laugh at my Mexican-American roots showing. I enjoyed having a reason to hold you, but I blame that night for the spiral into the downfall out of our friendship. That was the evening that I sat beside you after the dance, gently tracing your hand under the table as it lay delicately on my thigh. I tried to tell myself that I could remain distant from you, guarding my heart, until you and I were at the right time in our lives and could blossom into something more.
The next few months were a mess. We were in love and everyone wanted us to be together except for us. We fought the pull so much, arguing that you and I were young adults and had the discipline to stay just friends, and then played games with one another–testing to see just how much we could get away with before the other one got upset and we were forced to have a fight that would turn into a define-the-relationship talk. Each talk ended in our stubborn minds agreeing to stay “just friends” and pretending that we wouldn’t get jealous of anyone who did so much as look as the other. That promise did not last long, as I found myself entering the local college’s party scene and you realized how dangerous my reckless personality could be when mixed with flirting guys and alcohol. You distanced yourself from my stories of nights out, knowing that there was an abundance of guys willing to take me home with them, not knowing that I was ever-faithful, telling them that I wasn’t interested. I’m not sure why I never corrected you. Maybe it was fun entertaining the thought of you being jealous, knowing that you were too stubborn to take our friendship to the next level and not wanting to do it myself.
Summer was spent hiding the monster I had started becoming from you, knowing that all the issues I was struggling with would make you stressed out as you left me behind for college. I became terrified that the distance you had started keeping from me would only increase as you left and found yourself among swarms of beautiful girls, eager to meet the cute new guy. I caved, realizing it was the only way that you and I would ever develop into anything more, promising to stop going out if it meant keeping you. I did exactly what I had told myself I would never do–compromised my life for a boy. I agreed to give up any fun memories I might have had during those five months, hoping that it would mean I wouldn’t lose you to a gorgeous new girl, one whose life story you didn’t know and one you hadn’t fought with as much as we did.
I kept my promise for over four months, until my best friend and my older brother wanted to have a night in and I agreed to have a few drinks in a safe environment. I knew you wouldn’t approve and debated hiding it from you until you told me you were at a party. For some reason, this made me want to pick a fight with you, angry with your double standard, and I found myself announcing proudly that I was drinking. Even though what I was doing was quite far from a wild night, you made it out to be something I should be ashamed of. I knew you wanted me to be upset with myself, but instead I grew mad at you. I fought back, asking why you were at a party (since when did you start going out anyways?) and that’s when the truth hit me. You had started going to parties a few days after you arrived and had just never told me, knowing it would cause a fight and I would get jealous of all the girls in short skirts, taking tequila shots and hoping to make a bad decision that night. You were ignorant to the double-standards you held about partying and told me it was fine for you to go out and drink, but unacceptable for me to do so.
Had we not already been drifting apart, I would like to think I would have left it alone, but slightly-drunk me vented enough about the situation that sober-me became more upset than I should have been. The next morning, we pretended that the fight the night before hadn’t happened and my heart began keeping tallies of everything you did that was upsetting to me. It took two weeks for me to gather up an arsenal, work up the courage to tell you that we weren’t working out. I had intended to declare a break in our relationship for a few weeks, until you were home for Christmas break and we could chat in person but sometime during your plea for me to stay with you and promises to change the situation, my mind thought of all the times I had missed out on being with my friends because I had been so afraid to lose you and I knew–I knew that it was not the right time to be together.
Our feelings became a sore subject to our friends, who begged for us to leave each other alone and groaned anytime we vented to them about our issues. They made attempts to set me up with guys that they had decided I would like so much more than you, someone who I hopefully wouldn’t have as many issues with, and I knew that I needed to stop talking to them about you. I had tried so hard to get over you, having downloaded Tinder and agreed to meet with a match. I hadn’t meant to kiss him, but thinking about all the girls you were probably kissing at college made me let him press his lips to mine. I didn’t pursue things with him further, which came to my benefit when a few weeks later, a repeat customer at work that I had a slight crush on asked me out. I went on several dates with him and we had long conversations about things I hadn’t even told you. I found myself liking him even more, especially knowing that he was older and able to commit to something, and several weeks in, when I found out he had a long-term girlfriend, all I could think about was how you would have never done that to me.
You had felt the same way, experiencing your own bit of heartbreak at college and realizing I wouldn’t have done that to you. This led, once more, into a fight where I brazenly said that I was over you and asked you to get over me, listing all of the guys I had seen since we had broken up as if each one was a badge. I hadn’t meant it and I wish every day that I had never said that to you. You knew that we had been a matter of bad timing, and I had convinced myself that if I pushed you away, you would miss me enough to do whatever it took to win me back. I’m not sure why you believed that I could ever be over you, but you became cross with me for giving up so easily. We continued to fight as we pursued the friendship we had once had before we fell in love, each of us using post-break up romances as a fuel to the other’s jealousy. It wasn’t long until one of us cracked. I knew that I would be the first one to crack.
I cracked the night I went to a concert with my parents. My mother had made a punch that she had been dying to try that tasted like lemonade but was mainly alcohol. We sat poolside, enjoying a beautiful Texas summer day and the cold drink that seemed so refreshing. Getting ready for the concert with not even a buzz, I poured myself the last of the pitcher, not knowing that most of the hard liquor had settled at the very bottom, waiting to make its way into my cup. I chugged the cup, hoping I could at least manage a buzz that would last me through the first set.
By the time we got to the concert, I was much more drunk than I had wanted to be. Standing there, watching couples act in love around me and realizing how much I wanted to share that moment with you, I began to fall apart. I managed to hold it together, knowing I could ask to talk to you in person later that week. At the end of the concert, which seemed much shorter than the three hours it was, the summer night suddenly became a downpour and with the rain, all the emotions I was holding in began to flood out of my heart.
I did what every drunk person shouldn’t do. I texted you. It started innocently, just a simple hello, and turned into me becoming rather angry with you. The last thing I wanted was to blow up on you, but that was exactly what I did.
I remember yelling at you over text message for your double standards and telling you how mad I was at myself for still not being over you, for still being just as in love with you, if not more, as I had ever been. I remember the moment my heart broke, when you replied that I had asked you to move on and that was just what you had done.
The next morning, I awoke to a hangover and a sharp pain in my chest, reminding me that you and I would never go back to the way we used to be, that I had lost you forever. I tried my hardest to nurse my broken heart myself, not wanting anyone to know that I had ruined everything with you.
That was the last time I talked to you, and while I wish I could say I no longer think of you anytime I kiss someone, you always seem to end up on my mind. No part of the college experience–the parties, the casual dating and hookups, the eagerness that guys here have for a new face–compares to talking to you. It took two months after our last conversation for you to find yourself in a relationship.
It’s not until I think about the you that I want to talk to–before we began our relationship, when we were still best friends–that I realize that the you I am still in love with is a you that you have not been for two years now. That you, the one that made my heart race and my knees feel weak, is the one that I still find myself holding out for.
Your new girlfriend is beautiful and I am so glad that she makes you happy. While I may be an old fling, I will always be your best friend and as your best friend, it is my job to support you when you are happy. I might miss you, especially when something about you pops up on my Facebook newsfeed, but I am much more concerned for your happiness. I wish the two of you the best of luck and I pray that she never hurts you the way that I did. While I may get a twinge of sadness occasionally, I find joy knowing that letting you go allowed you to find someone who seems to have such a big heart and I know will love you as much as you deserve.
I may still be in love with a boy who you will never be again, but I only hope that I can take the way that he made me feel and find a man that will do the same for me. You have become a standard that I have set the guys I date against, but you are also a warning that I give my heart, reminding myself that there are aspects of you that I will not allow the next man to capture my heart to have. One of my favorite quotes is “ni tanto que queme al santo, ni tan poco no lo alumbre,” which translates to “put the candle not so close that it would burn the saint, nor so far that it will fail to light it,” and that is exactly what I hope I am doing when I remember you. You were not a perfect man and we had our issues, but your friendship and the way you caused my heart to beat so violently in my chest is how I know what love is.
I remember, during one of our many fights, how you once told me you hoped that maybe we could try again when we were older and had figured our lives out, sometime when we are 26 or so, and while I can’t promise that either of us will be available that far in the future, I can promise that if we are, I will fight for you in a way that 17-year old me never did. If I find any resemblance of the you I fell in love with and can fall in love with future you the way I once did, I promise I will make the years we have spent apart worth the wait with the devotion and respect I should have given you long ago.
Until then, I will keep my strong feelings for you in my heart, the way that you never really lose love for your first. I will hold on to it, placing it in aside and continue to allow my heart to love, so that I will not forget what it is like to love someone the way I loved you. I promise, I will try my hardest to be happy, even if that means allowing someone who isn’t you to make me happy. The story of how I fell in love with you ends with my vow to you to continue to allow myself to love someone who isn’t you, but should our paths ever cross again in our favor, the love for you that I will never lose will be ready in waiting.