In the Form of a Letter: My Memories of You
New York, New York November, 2018
You had taken a red-eye from LA to New York City on a Saturday night. My three girlfriends and I had spent a whirlwind of a weekend in the big apple, and we had planned to meet up for brunch in Williamsburg, your home now, on Sunday morning. We were all counteracting the pounding in our heads with copious amounts of coffee and expected that after a weekend in LA with old friends, you would also be in rough shape. But you showed up looking like you “had gotten ten hours of sleep and went to the gym that morning” as one of my friends so accurately stated.
Yeah, you looked good. But more than that, you were present. The banter between the five of us would have made any stranger believe we were all just normal friends grabbing brunch on any old Sunday morning. You asked thoughtful questions, seemed genuinely interested, and even made us all laugh a few times. You fit right in effortlessly.
Over an omelet and breakfast potatoes to soak up the leftover alcohol in my stomach, we chatted about the upcoming holiday. You wanted me and my family to stay over on Thanksgiving weekend. Your parents had moved back to Albany, New York, a couple years ago and were now a quick drive from my grandparents (where I had spent everything Thanksgiving since I was young). Since everyone in our two families (including us) enjoy their adult beverages, a “sleep over” was a necessary evil. Your parents had been trying to convince mine for a few weeks now to pack a bag.
You were enthusiastic about it; you seemed almost insistent that we all stay the night. And I was excited. You actually wanted me to stay. With our parents in close proximity, there was no chance of anything more than PG-13 happening, but that didn’t matter to me. In my mind, this was an opportunity to spend some time alone. Flirt. Drink. Laugh. See how we interact when it’s just us.
We hugged good-bye on the sidewalk, but for once I wasn’t extremely sad. I knew I had something to look forward to and that in two short weeks, I may just get an answer to the ever probing question in my mind: “what if?”
Sodus, New York August 2018
It was a hot, sunny day and the lake could not have looked bluer. I was a little nervous, but kept reminding myself that “It’s just Alex. It’s just Alex.” But even my 82-year-old grandmother, whose eyesight was not what it used to be, could see right through me. She kept asking about you, if I was excited to see you. Because, of course, she adores you, too.
The purr of the boat soothed my nerves. I raised my face to the sun, trying to coax my freckles to keep coming to the surface. The sun on my pale skin and the wind through my hair seemed to brush out any anxiety that I had. Until the phone rang.
You were here. This was the first time I’d be seeing you when we were both single. To anyone else, seeing an old friend that you have known for 18 years of your life doesn’t sound like a big deal. But we have 18 years of history built up between us, a history that crackles like electricity whenever you’re near.
And oh, did it crackle. There is this chemistry between us, but it’s almost more than that. You get a certain look in your eyes and I can tell that you feel it, too. It’s as if there is a string tied to both of us, and no matter where in the world we go, that string somehow pulls us back together. Like you’re North and I’m South, two sides of one magnet meant to continuously pull towards each other.
It was so natural. Our families truly enjoy each other, and couldn’t accept each other more fully. We sped around the bay, relishing the refreshing spray of water that kissed our skin. As the sun got higher, we decided to stop at the winery for some much needed food.
You were behind me getting off the boat. I turned to say something, but you were no longer on my heels. The hop from the boat to the dock was a little high, and there you were lending a hand (literally) to my mom and yours. No one else seemed to notice, but I stood there for a moment and watched. No one asked you to do that. You did it because you should. I couldn’t help but love seeing how you kept an eye out for our moms.
So we laughed and drank, stayed up late and drifted to sleep with skin that felt tight and was warm to the touch.
I knew I had to say something or I would regret it. I didn’t know when I would see you again, and my curious mind couldn’t take much more.
So when you went to gather your things, I just happened to be there waiting. I don’t know if you realized how nervous I was – it was probably evident since I was so awkward. But I do remember…
“Is there anything….between us?” I almost rolled my eyes at myself after the words came out, but it was the best way I could put it. I didn’t want to say what I was really thinking, which was “Hey, so we have a crazy connection and I’ve felt this way since I was seven years-old. Any chance you’ve noticed it, too? Or did I just completely make it up in my mind?”
You stood up and looked me dead in the eye. “I’ve been trying to figure that out since the first grade. There’s undeniable chemistry.”
Alex, I think I stopped breathing. You have known me long enough to know that I am not one to clam up, but I swear to you I was speechless.
“I… I agree.” I shrugged. My tongue wasn’t working. My brain was blank. All it could focus on was the fact that you felt it, too.
You and your family left and I couldn’t help but have a bit of a spring in my step. I told you that we were planning a girl’s weekend in New York City (your current residence) for the fall and that hopefully, I’d see you then. I was proud of myself for finally saying something, but I couldn’t help but wonder if even that was good enough to really put anything into motion.
Albany, New York November 2017
Your parents had moved back to upstate New York to be closer to their aging parents. So when the Thanksgiving holiday rolled around and you and your sister Lauren would be home, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see you.
From the moment I walked through the door, I felt it. It was like a lightning bolt of electricity between us, crackling from the moment I saw you. At this time, I was seeing someone else and tried to flip the switch on whatever this feeling was. But it never worked.
Everything felt so right. We looked at old pictures that your parents had brought from house to house. We sat around the table and ate and laughed. Swapped stories from childhood, and recent adventures that we needed to catch up on. All the while, I was noticing you. How you’d grab drinks for whoever needed a refill. How you helped out with cooking dinner, making sure everything was running smoothly. How you noticed me.
Tis the season for tree lightings, so we grabbed our coats and wandered into the city. We watched as the tree glowed for the first time that year, and then made our way to an Irish Pub down the street (very typical for us).
We all drank until the cold of the night didn’t seem to bother us anymore. Again, you always asked around and made sure everyone was set with their drinks before going to the bar for another round yourself. And all this time, my body was so tense from fighting the chemistry that I always feel when I’m with you. As hard as I tried to stifle it, the best I could do was just try to ignore it. The more alcohol I poured down my throat, the harder it was to do even that. With a serious buzz, I may have flirted more than I should have.
As we said our good-byes and gave our hugs, I could have sworn I saw a sly wink from you. A wink that made me think you felt it, too. Or that you at least noticed that I did. That little wink made my stomach drop and want to run to you right then, not caring who was around to see. But I held my ground, reminding myself that someone else in another city was waiting for me to return.
I cried on the way home. As the high from being with you wore off, a wave of guilt washed over me. I was dating someone else. And being with that someone else had never felt even close to the way it did when I was around you. There is something different about our connection, there always has been. The magnetism that draws me to you is undeniable. And as much as I liked it and wanted to explore it, I couldn’t.
You confused me. When I thought about it, I really didn’t know you all that well anymore. I knew who you were in front of your parents & mine. But I didn’t know who you were at 3AM with your friends after drinking too much. I didn’t know who you were on a lazy Sunday afternoon, alone in your apartment. But I wanted to. And I felt so guilty for that.