I am in a room with four carpeted walls, dark blue, reminiscent of dentist waiting rooms. And so I begin to adopt that tense, stubby-carpet feeling of stress and shame, that I-will-floss-every-day-for-the-rest-of-my-life feeling, that please-no-cavities feeling. The feeling I get waiting for answers to mumbled questions and risky texts that I swear, I swear, I will never send again. But sure as the holes in my teeth, here you are, aren’t you?
Sometimes the walls aren’t there at all; the carpets are a mere curtain to be pushed aside, revealing this parallel universe where on every street there is a house with a rickety screen door and a second-floor window lit sunny yellow where I know you are hiding. The birds grow fake wool instead of feathers to line the insides of any and every hoodie you may wish to buy, and they sing the default Verizon ringback tone with a dubstep beat and 90s alt influences. This is your world, and so it is also mine, also ours, and in my wildest dreams, the rickety screen door swings open and we stumble off into an inverted image of a sunset you’ve scribbled with black ink on the veins in your arm.
But it’s all okay in the end because there are no walls here. Inktitus can be cured; writer’s block can be cured; we rent a shabby apartment above a Chinese restaurant and clutter our respective bedrooms with crumpled pages of unfinished manuscripts because the ideas flow too quickly and life is one giant run-on sentence I’ve been spewing out since the first time we made eye contact and if you didn’t notice, I did say respective bedrooms. I don’t need to sleep with you here. I do not need to hungrily absorb every inch of you to know that you are mine.
And in fact, you are mine right now. You are mine until I distrust the wall and push aside the curtain, only to discover that the light in the window has to turn off once in a while, that eventually you have to go to bed in your separate room, that I am not as deeply immersed in you as I think I am because I have completely forgotten that your bedroom is in the basement. Who is really up there on the second floor? What do they dream about? I wish I could climb up some sort of cliché John-Hughes trellis to the window and remind them that they can have anything they want until they ask for more than they can have. I have asked for more of you than I can have.
But this is not the friend zone you have built for me. In your world, we cling to the tails of armadillos and ride through an open meadow with no walls and no curtains, and the semi-transparency of unrequited love and rickety friendship is a plot device on the Disney Channel. The friend zone does not exist for you because it does not need to.
This is the friend zone that I, in all of my frivolous hoping, have built for myself.