When Xan and I were getting together, I once wrote in a journal, “What’s the difference between a best friend and a lover?” The only answer I could muster was, “The fact that they aren’t physically intimate. That’s about it.” Not that two people aren’t attracted to each other, but that two people were not being sexual. It was the only hard and fast line I could define.
Even that line begins to blur at some point.
I had my first kiss at thirteen. It was New Years Eve and we were sitting up on a snow covered roof with a friend. We were close together, wrapped in a blanket for warmth. We all were talking about life and love, and it was so silent outside besides our own voices. Suddenly, the world burst to life with people shouting and pots and pans banging. Our friend started to hoot and holler. I looked at my friend, and had so many fond, but conflicted feelings.
That’s when my best friend put her hands on my face and kissed me deeply.
We were the best of friends for over a year at that point. In that year, I began to become symptomatic. She was my confidant, and I poured my heart and soul out to her in the early hours of many a Saturday morning. Her hugs were the warmest and tightest, the kind that brought a person back from the brink and back down to Earth. She rooted me, and often became the sole reason I didn’t slash my wrists right there and then.
Her parents were divorcing at the time. She was forced from her family home into a tiny apartment with her mom. Her mom started working, so we had a lot of time alone. Somehow, we both managed to date guys, but we never really had boyfriends. I always had strange feelings for her. I kept them to myself, because bi-curiousity was not encouraged in my area. I didn’t want to be that weirdo that had a lesbian crush on her.
It turned out that she had the same feelings. She was never one for expressing herself through words, so she just went for the kiss. I was shocked, and didn’t know what to make of it. Was it for the shock value in front of our friend? We were so known for that. Anything to shake it up, or make people laugh. We were an entertaining pair.
The next day, in the confines of my bedroom, over a cigarette, we talked. She was serious. She had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to kiss me and make it count. There was no other way she could get it across to me.
And truthfully, I fell in love with Kat. I wrote in a journal once, “She was the first person I really fell in love with. No confusion between a best friend and a lover.” At that age, I can see the confusion. But, it’s more than fifteen years later, and I still feel the same way. I loved her. I didn’t care that she was a female. I loved everything about her. I loved her fire. Her art was intoxicating. There’s still one piece that I’ve been attempting to replicate for years. But, I’m not her. I don’t have that kind of talent.
We complimented each other. I was a writer and a musician at the time. She was an artist. I would write things and she would illustrate them as if she was in my head. She always knew what was in my heart and on my mind. We stole kisses in the night and behind buildings. We shared my twin bed to sleep in on the weekends. I never thought it was strange, even before we were together.
Together, in italics, meaning we were secret. Therefore, we were never really defined. I never understood the rules of our relationship, and I still can’t make sense of them today. We were part-time lovers, apparently. Eventually, friends and family started to get suspicious, because we stopped dating boys and dedicated all of our free time to one another. So, she hatched a plan.
“I’ll date this boy and you date his friend.”
It would have been a perfect cover if things had gone according to plan. These boys lived towns away, and without cars, it was difficult to maintain anything beyond a phone relationship. Her and her boyfriend had a passionate, but turbulent relationship. I was starting to get confused about who she had affections for anymore. I’d ask, and she’d reassure me. But, there were times where she’d push me away. She was constantly breaking up with the both of us and getting back together with the other, when she wasn’t trying to manage the both of us.
Eventually, the boy and I grew closer. And one night, he admitted his love for me. I had longed for him and his kindness, being so jealous of her and him and not having that affection. I confessed my own love and longing, and that was the day we called our anniversary for the next four years. We had only a month before I finally gave in and told her.
Something strange happened. I went away on a long summer vacation after that. When I returned, she contacted me telling me she missed me. And we were back on until the late autumn. On a icy November morning, she was silent with me. We used a singular computer to type back and forth to one another. She asked me to choose between the two of them.
“It’s not fair,” the print on the screen read back to her.
“I’m not changing my mind. You can’t have us both.”
“I have to choose him. I love you. I’m sorry.”
Things weren’t the same after that. We tried to go back to being just friends, but I could see the agony in her eyes. As far as I was concerned, she made her choice when she stepped out on me the first dozen times. I was just finalizing it for her. Several months later, she set me up to get in trouble, and it was the perfect cover for her to duck out on me.
I remember that Friday in March, two days after everything had thrown down. She always rode my bus home with me, because we were going to babysit down the street. I knew I wasn’t included anymore. She gave me what was coming to me for all of the horrible things I had done to her. I had hoped that there would be some redemption. She sat behind me, and I turned around to talk to her. She ignored me, like I wasn’t even there, and went prattling on to a mutual friend sitting beside her.
I had become a ghost to her – to everyone who had anything to do with the both of us. It had been like this at the lunch table, in our classes. My life was stolen from me, and I deserved it. I told her so, and begged her to talk to me. She finally faced me and refused. “I’ve had enough. I’ve taken so much from you in the last two years. You are dead to me. Don’t talk to me again.”
I was confined to my room after the incident, so I just isolated myself to my bed. I went to bed early and woke at dawn. I looked up and out my window into the never ending grey sky. And I said aloud, “If I hadn’t done any of this, she would be beside me right now.”
Later, I wrote a letter to her in my journal to say goodbye. And I wrote, “In the end, after everything, I just wanted you to know that I always loved you more than anyone.”