This Is What We Could’ve Been

 Josh Willink
Josh Willink

I liked you. A lot.

It didn’t start out like that. In fact in the beginning I was only looking for a friend. I, like you was in a new place where our carefully chosen friends whom we deemed “our people” in that crucial first week, would in fact, remain our squad until the end. I wasn’t expecting to find you, but I did.

We became fast friends. Joking, talking, playing and dreaming together. You displayed a rare intelligence and I was actually able to hold a real conversation with you. No inane chatter about insignificant little tidbits. You would call me on my BS and I’d call you out on yours. I didn’t have to pretend with you. Even as a friend I was just being me. My snarky comments, my insights and the things I told you. They were all me. No pretense, just truth. My truth. And somewhere through the shared secret glances, sudoku, inside jokes, workouts and motivational speeches I fell for you. I fell for you hard.

I remember the exact moment I knew I was in trouble. It was when I had told you I was bored in one of our classes, and you went and made me a word-search. A gosh darn word-search from scratch. That was my turning point. I knew if nothing else, I wanted to stay your friend. If I could get more, then great but I would be willing to settle with us just being friends. That’s how much I admired you.

You had a girlfriend. She was closer to you in age, knew your secrets and she was gorgeous. I wouldn’t play with fire, and so I kept my crush to myself hoping it would go away. But it didn’t, it stayed inside me like a particularly stubborn ember that refused to be extinguished. Then the unthinkable happened, you two broke up. I knew it would be to soon to try anything with you, but I could start flirting with a clear conscious, you were a free agent.

So that’s what I did. I flirted, I opened myself up to you and let you inside my head. I slept over and we spent the nights just talking and with each word I fell harder under your spell. We had tickle wars which you won solely on the fact that you were bigger than me. We gave each other massages (sorry I was so bad at that). We had honest conversations.

That was my mistake. I’ve always been a sucker for beautiful words and yours enveloped me into a perceived bubble of safety. Perhaps I read more into our time together than you did. Though there were a few times I did honestly thing there was a chance you liked me too. Apparently I was wrong, oh so wrong. You didn’t even like me enough to stay friends.

I was going to tell you the last time I slept over, but like a coward I chickened out. I was too afraid of what your response would be, that I didn’t want to risk making things awkward and losing you. So I kept my mouth shut and continued to smile along. The minute I left your place I knew I had made a mistake. I spent the next week and a half gathering up as much courage as I could and I sent you a text. I asked you to meet me. Sink or swim I was ready. I was ready for all possibilities. Rejection or reciprocation. At this point I just needed to tell you. We both know what happened.

I waited for your text to let me know when you wanted to reschedule. And when I didn’t hear from you for a week I knew I had lost you. You had already been long gone.

It hurt. It hurt more than I’d like to admit, because you didn’t ghost on a girl who liked you, you ghosted on a friend. What did I do or say? When was it you knew you wouldn’t be reaching out again? Was there a specific moment? Or did it just gradually creep up on you? I guess my question would be: why?

Always the type to find the silver lining, you taught me a valuable lesson. I shouldn’t be afraid to speak my truth. No matter the outcome I should be honest and take the risk. For it is far better to take the plunge and live without the “what-if?”. what if I had told you that last weekend? Would it have ended differently? Or were you already half gone? I shouldn’t have cared so much if I was risking our friendship. I lost it without saying a word.

So thank you, truly. You taught me never to doubt myself, hide my feelings or care to much about the opinion of someone else. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.

So in the end the answer to the question “what could we have been?”

We could have been friends. TC mark

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