In the Form of a Letter: My Memories of You
Providence, Rhode Island
My brother was getting married. While the bride-to-be was off getting last minute items ticked off her to-do list, my family grabbed lunch with yours. It had been a while since we’d seen each other. To have your family there meant the world to all of us, and of course to my brother. It was a huge effort that was not unnoticed by any of us. And as your mom hushed our gushing, saying that you all wouldn’t have missed it for the world, it still really did mean the world to us.
Lunch was different than usual, though. He was there, my guy at the time. We had been dating for quite some time, but this was the first time you’d be meeting him. He endured our stories from childhood and the many inside jokes, staying quiet through most of it.
As much as I wanted it to not be there, the magnetism between us still was. We locked eyes, just for a moment, and my stomach dropped. Looking at you across a table at a diner with our families around us and my at-the-time boyfriend sitting next to me should not have been the time to feel anything towards you. But my body’s involuntary reaction to you is undeniable. Even when I don’t want it to happen, it does. I broke my eyes away from yours, knowing you could see what you do to me even when he was sitting next to me.
I was an emotional mess for the wedding. More than I ever dreamed I would be. I was just so damn proud. My brother had turned into such a caring gentleman, one who had found the love of his life. And I got to be there to witness them vow to stay together forever. It really hit me hard, the happiness of the day. We had so many loved ones in the crowd – grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins – but my eyes were constantly searching for you.
I was out on the dance floor, spinning and twirling, my drink spilling. My hand was in another’s, and while I should have been fully paying attention to him, I had to actively tell myself to not look at you. I couldn’t have another locked-eyes moment with you, even though I wanted to. And that was the worst part. There I was, supposedly happy with someone else, dancing with him, wanting to be near you.
The after-party was at a hole-in-the-wall bar and we filled it with pizzas. By this time, my blood was heavily mixed with alcohol and I didn’t care, I needed to spend time with you. I hung out with you and Lauren, not caring who saw or what they thought. And I couldn’t help but wonder what could have happened if he hadn’t come with me.
My entire family noticed. I didn’t find out until later that multiple family members had approached my mom asking if we had ever dated. They could see it. The electricity. Chemistry. Magnetism. Call it what you want but it was there, and apparently obvious to everyone even when I thought I was hiding it well.
You looked so damn good that day, Alex. And if I’m being honest, the whole event really fucked me up. I started dreaming about you.
I am fully aware of how cliché this sounds. I thought this was the stuff of movies. I never thought that this was something that could happen in real life. But you showed up consistently. Night after night, there you were in your black suit. There you were holding my hand. There you were, taking my face in your hands and finally going in for the kiss.
And I’d wake up lying next to him. Feeling so guilty for my subconscious that I couldn’t control. Even when I tried. I was crying in the shower, knowing that the steaming water would drown out my tears. Because I was thinking of you while he was sitting on my couch, oblivious. It was like you were haunting me. And while the guilt was awful, I couldn’t help but like seeing you in my dreams. As sick as it was, I almost looked forward to it. I could only hope and wish that maybe I’d make an appearance in yours.
St. Andrews, Scotland November 2014
I read the letter you wrote her. It was on your desk, half covered by a book or another piece of paper… I can’t remember now. But I remember I read whatever part of it I could see without touching anything.
Most of the wooden desk was hidden by old papers, books, textbooks, a laptop, strewn about in no particular order. The desk, however, was placed perfectly before a window, giving you the flawless view of the quaint Scotland town you called home for four years.
But this one lined piece of paper caught my eye. Your handwriting covered it, and I couldn’t help myself. As I read, I realized it was a birthday note to her. You must have given her a book and you wrote something about how the main character in that book reminded you of her. The note was heartfelt, thoughtful, and evident of your love. It was truly touching.
More than anything, Alex, it gave me hope. Hope that there are men like you who exist. As a junior in college, I was getting discouraged. I had done my fair share of dating, and it was one disappointment after another. One guy just didn’t have the time. One guy only bought my dinner so he could get in my pants. One guy stopped texting me after he realized it wasn’t that easy to get in my pants. It was one cliché after another.
But not you. No, here was physical proof that a “college guy” was not only capable of emotion or wanting more than sex, but actually falling in love and valuing the qualities that a woman holds. And this filled me with so much hope.
Alex, you’ve always been a class act. But here was evidence that you are a class act even when I’m not around, even when my parents aren’t around. You are what every girl dreams of in a boyfriend.
We were playing a drinking game, the best game of Kings that I have played to this day. The rules were all some twisted version of the original, with my favorite rule being a spin on Questions. You had to ask someone a direct (often dirty) question and the first person that laughed had to drink. Your friends were not only hilarious, but also welcoming.
At some point during the night, she was brought up. It seemed like the girls weren’t her biggest fan. And I couldn’t help but think that as I sat next to you, laughing and teasing with your friends, that I would have fit in. They would have liked me.
Saturday came along and we were going to a dance. I was a little tipsy, in a foreign country, with a bunch of people I didn’t know. And yet, you made me feel so comfortable. We were walking through the crowd and as it got thicker and thicker, I reached for your wrist. Even with the drinks of the night making my brain foggy, I was trying to be respectful of the fact that there was another girl at the forefront of your mind. But somehow, my hand ended up in yours. What I felt is something I’ll never forget. I was tingling from the inside out, something that often happens when I’m close to you. I felt pride, walking through the crowd getting to be the girl holding your hand.
But it was all short-lived. Soon we were through the crowd, and just as quickly as it dispersed, the crash of reality hit as your hand let go of mine.
Buffalo, NY January/March 2009
My heart was in my throat. The tinny ring came through the speaker pressed hard to my ear. I had stepped out of the room filled with poppers and noise makers. It was minutes after midnight, but you were the first one I wanted to wish a happy new year to. And I needed to ask you one thing.
“Hello?” You answered. Holy shit you answered. It was now or never.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the words of the conversation. But I do remember telling you that I was serious about you coming to be my date to my freshman year winter formal. You lived in Florida, I was in upstate New York. It was a long shot. But damn I wanted it bad. More than anything, I wanted you to know that I wanted you.
I don’t remember how we got there, but I remember realizing that you were coming. Your flight was booked. You were going to be my date to a school dance that at the time was the highlight of the year.
You made me the most popular girl in school for a week. I’ll never forget sitting down in a classroom a few minutes before class started. This girl sitting in front of me who I wasn’t good friends with (we were friendly enough, but she was in the self-proclaimed “popular group”), turned around and asked about you. She said she heard there was a guy flying in from Florida to be my date. I looked around and there were 3-4 other girls all listening in.
“Ummm…. Yeah,” I smiled shyly, not used to the attention. “He’s an old friend of mine.”
The giggles were like something out of a television show. They all crooned over how romantic that was and wanted to know all about you.
I can’t say I hated it. Everyone thought it was so romantic. Including me.
I felt amazing that night. I was so proud to have you as my date, even then. You were fun, got along with my friends, and I never for a second wondered what you were going to say or do. You danced with me, held my hand, and I took it all in as every girl wanted to meet the guy that came from Florida to be my date. You were a perfect gentleman… almost too much of one!
The next day, we sat in my parent’s back room watching Wayne’s World, a very romantic pick. All I could think about was how I so badly wanted you to kiss me. You put your arm around me, but never went in for the kiss. The way my heart was pounding, you might as well have.
You were supposed to fly out on Monday morning. I got up and went to school, and my mom was going to bring you to the airport. Since it was March in Buffalo, NY, the weather delayed your flight. You spent the day with my mom instead. Which to any other sophomore in high school, probably would have been extremely awkward. But I remember her telling me that you both had a blast. That you seemed to actually enjoy the day.
Alex, I don’t know if you know how much that night meant to me, even now. You got on a flight to come to a stupid school dance with me. In high school, I had a serious boyfriend and he asked me once what was the nicest thing a boy had ever done for me. That night was my answer (which he clearly wasn’t happy about, oops). You flying in from Florida to be my date for the night: one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. Definitely the most romantic thing any guy has ever done for me.
I hold that dear to my heart for many reasons, but especially because I will never settle for a man who would do anything less than hop on a plane because he knows it would mean a lot to me. Thank you for your selflessness. Thank you for one of the best nights. You are and always have been a class act. Thank you for doing, to this day, one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.