Love Labor's Lost

volumes of mis-adventures

The wandering traveler returns

on April 8, 2012

Once upon a time, when I was a wee little lass, back in the days of yore, and high school, I had a crush on a boy: Jay.* Jay was your run of the mill “bad boy,” or at least as bad as they got in the padded bubble that is the pampered, and privileged North Shore of Chicago.  He was an actor/director-type. Cool. Bad ass ( or at least I thought so). He could beat-box, was in with many ladies, and in the cool crowd apart from my own. He was one of my many silent crushes, and this crush flourished into a friendship when we both attended University together. He was a familiar face in a sea of black and gold, where I quickly began to drown and sink. Jay became my solid, when everything seemed to drop out from under me like quick sand, my college transition was made minutely better because of his presence. I went to his plays. We went to my first Atmosphere concert together. We watched movies; went to school events; sometimes the same parties. We talked philosophically, but most importantly we were each other’s ride home on breaks.

In the intermediate years of college, our friendship fluctuated from frequent, to non-existent, but in our fourth and final year we came together holding on to our precious young-adult lives as we felt it flee on a forging path into the abyss of adulthood. The night before graduation I had a pseudo-date with a different guy [later post I presume], and I was meant to meet up with Jay and his older sister, Cassie*, to talk about my upcoming relocation to San Francisco, and all the wonders I should expect. That night we watched a movie (I can’t remember what movie), Jay and I spoke (I can’t remember what the topic was), Cassie and I got to know each other and talked (I assume about SF, but I can’t remember to be sure), and as the night hours became the wee hours of our commencement day, I said my goodbyes and decided to head back to my apartment. Jay insisted on walking me home. Jay took my hand. Jay began reminiscing about the beginning of our journey at this great University, which just didn’t seem big enough to contain us any longer. Jay smiled. Jay kissed me for the first time. I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the week.

Commencement came and went, I moved home. I started packing for my big backpacking trip, and Jay and I spent some time together. That summer, in retrospect, was a mess of confusion; think rural country in Timbuktu and all you want is some toilet paper for the bathroom, but no one speaks the same language, and most of the people you encounter are blind. No subtlety could be conveyed, no body language was affectively transmitted.

 

Jay and I were on separate pages the entire time, and I was the only one getting upset. Crush turned reality was not becoming the fairytale I had envisioned. Regardless, there were cute days, and there were great days, and there were friendly moments. So, when I left for San Francisco at the end of the summer, I left with the same friendship, albeit more familiar, that I had when I moved away four years earlier.

He visited me, or rather his sister, in San Francisco about 2 months after I left home. I was frustrated, I was annoyed, I word vomited at him in a Starbucks.

(the abbreviated, paraphrased version)

Me: What is this? what are we? what’s going on?

J: We’ll just do what we feel. When we feel like it, we’ll be together, when we don’t or can’t we won’t. (read: “we” as “I”)

M: Oh, (disappointed) alright…

As I walked him to the bus, I tried to kiss him goodbye, he turned his cheek. We hugged. He left. I decided that “friends” was the best (read: only way I could survive with him in my life) status for us.

It’s been nearly 2 years since then, and in the time that has passed: I started this blog, moved back to Chicago, had many failed faux relationships, and Jay has spent the last year away. Between living in New Mexico in a refurbished chicken coup, traveling up and down the west coast, and about a 4 month stint down under in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, our interactions have been few and far between, but he has never forgotten about me. He has in that year been vigilant with out-of-the-blue e-mail updates, reminding me, and alleviating any concern, that he was and is still alive. About a month ago I heard from him last, an email filled with good spirits, and interesting inquiries:

J:  I am attempting to stay in the moment and enjoy this incredible experience overseas. But definitely a piece of me is wondering what it would be like with someone by my side.

Are you seeing anyone these days?

Yesterday, Jay, sporting a Jew-fro shaped into a contained ponytail, and a monstrous mountain man beard, phoned me.

 

much like this fine fellow

He’s back. He’s sticking around, and apart from his parents, I was the first person he called. He biked over to my house today and we spent a couple of hours rehashing his epic journey. While I was thrilled to see him and share in his reveling, any feelings of the once crushing wee lass, and the  young optimistic college graduate, have since faded into a comfortable philia-storge type of love. There are no overly emotional feelings left. There are no hopes for more, on my end. However, the hug lasted a beat longer than I expected, and his face nuzzled my shoulder a bit. It may mean nothing, but on the other hand: in the year apart, I wonder, if the feelings and expectations have shifted.

*name changed

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