“I remember the first time I met you.” Few lines resonate in me the way this one does. He remembers. He remembers me. He remembers me before I thought twice about him.
The long distance crush. Six months later, only our second meeting. He put his hand on my lower back and it was like shouting out loud in an empty warehouse, “I like you!” The tiniest gesture that had the greatest meaning.
Three months later, a Facebook message. “I’m kinda upset we never hooked up.” Blunt, juvenile, intoxicated. And the follow up: “Hey, sorry about that drunken Facebook.” I shouldn’t have been flattered but I was. This unspoken attraction that had been going on for almost a year was now vocalized. Pinwheels spun inside my chest.
And then began the downward spiral. He sent messages every once in awhile, asking how I was and what I was doing. The next time I saw him was a year and a half after our initial meeting and his new girlfriend joined him at the New Year’s party. Despite the other woman, he sought me out to ask when I was moving to Seattle, to put his number in my phone (“for when I’m in New York next time”), to make it clear once more that he was interested. Cue pinwheels.
By the time I left Seattle, the first month of 2009, I knew this was someone who wouldn’t disappear from my life so easily. And then began the texts. Late at night, in the middle of the afternoon, first thing in the morning. To say hi, to ask about the New York weather, to tell me he was thinking about me. We started e-mailing so we could write in more detail about what we were going through in our jobs, in our families, in our lives. From physical attraction to sincere friendship. Then he planned his trip to New York and told me he couldn’t wait to see me. He started texting me every day to remind me that the day was getting closer.
He arrived in town, staying with our mutual friend. While everyone suspected she was in love with him, she denied it and denied it, over and over again. “Does it bother you that he and I keep in touch?” I asked her once. She assured me it didn’t. I was giddy to see him. I felt his eyes on me at the bar and caught his smile from across the table. Two years of waiting for this moment and it was closing in on me like a hurricane.
Friday night. At the bar. He kissed me. Finally. Two years in the making. It was perfect. He told her he wanted to leave with me, that he liked me. She started to cry. “What?” he asked. “Why?” “Because,” she answered. “I like you.”
And you know what they say about the best laid plans…