Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Monday, March 5, 2007

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The day he told me he loved me.

My heart started beating very fast today. I thought I saw him walking down the street. In my mind, I was practicing what I was going to say. "It's been a long time, how are you?" Should I hug him? Kiss him? Be standoffish?

But no. It wasn't him. My heart sunk and emptiness filled me. So I went home and I looked at his photos and talked to them. I asked him how he was. And if he was still mad at me? And then I whispered. And I imagined the photo asking me to talk up. But then I whispered again. And I couldn't look in his eyes. The photo seemed to stare back at me willing me to make eye contact.

Then I would put it away carefully and whisper once more, "Do you still love me?"

After our first kiss, we grew incredibly close, even closer than before. And that is when I found out that there was no other girl. That was perhaps the best day of my life.

It was July 17th, and we had just finished playing a game of Scrabble and he was brushing his teeth. I was sitting on the bed, he had his own apartment at this time, and I was over as much as possible. Remember though we were still just good friends and we hadn't kissed since that day at the picnic. Even though we slept in the same bed, he was always the perfect gentleman.

So I was there sitting on the bed plumping a pillow, and he walked into the room with just his boxers on and a white ti-shirt and he had his toothbrush in his mouth. As I looked at him, it suddenly hit me that I loved him as more than a friend, and my insides swelled with a foreign emotion. We had been best friends for 13 years at this point and I was 20 and he was 23. I started laughing and he opened his mouth to ask me what I was laughing at and toothpaste fell on his tishirt.

I got off the bed and grabbed a tissue and wiped the toothpaste off of his tishirt. "For a smart guy, you sure do get your clothes dirty easily," I said and laughed again. Then I poked him in the stomach and he poked me back. My body erupted with all sorts of weird feelings when he poked me.

When he went back to the bathroom I changed into my pajamas. I wished that I had something less dowdy to wear. He came back into the room just as I had finished changing and we decided to watch a film before we went to sleep. So out we trudged to the living and put on "The Usual Suspects," one of our fav films. We would put on German accents and pretend to be Kaiser Sose. I was abit tired as we were watching it and I rested my head on his shoulder as the film started and then eventually just lay down on the couch with my head on his lap and pretended to be watching the film when really my eyes were in and out of sleep.

He asked me if I just wanted to go to bed, but I enjoyed the drowsy feeling and being close to him and so I said no. It was such a comfortable feeling because then he would rub my stomach and draw little pictures on it, well mainly shapes, but for some reason it always made me feel close to him. He never tried any funny business, it wasn't like that. But that night as he rubbed my stomach, I glanced up at him and I felt upset. Overwhelmed that my best friend had been in love with someone who didn't feel the same way for him.

"Who was she?" I asked.
"Huh?" he said, still watching the tv screen.
"Who was she?"
"She who?", still not moving his face.
"The girl you loved?" I said softly, trying desperately to fight the jealousy that was rising in me.
"Ah," he glanced at me and his hand stopped rubbing my stomach. He smiled at me, "hmm, do we have to talk about this now?"
I looked up at him, and turned my body to the side abit, my face was right next to his stomach, I leaned in and bit it a little bit. And then looked back at him and grinned. "Yes, if you don't want me to bit you".
"Ok, ok, I don't want that" and he helped me sit up. I sat on the couch and curled my legs up and faced him.
"So, who was she?"
He put his head back abit, and sighed a little.
"Does it still hurt?" I said softly, envious that he still seemed to care about her. This girl he had described as perfect, both in looks and intelligence.
He leaned over and brushed some hair out of my face and tucked it behind my ear. And then to my utter amazement he kissed me. Right on the lips. Just one sweet and sold kiss. And then he pulled back.
And I just stared at him in amazement.
"It was you silly"
"It was me? but.."
"How could you think otherwise? I have spent my whole life with almost no-one but you."
"But, but that was because we were best friends and she didn't like you? Wasn't it?"
He looked away from me then, and seemed to grow serious. I became a little scared. "Tal, Tal, what's wrong?"

And then he told me that he hadn't wanted to tell me, that he thought that I should grow and get to know other people. That he thought that he had monoplozed my time and that he knew that he was in love with me when he was 13 and that he just wanted me to be happy. That he didn't want to use our friendship as a stepping stone to a relationship. He felt that I needed to explore the world and he didn't want to burden me with his feelings.

I was shocked. I had never even guessed. Inside I was deliriously happy.

We just started at each other, and then I let out a big yawn. "Let's go to bed sleepyhead," he got up and pulled me to my feet. As I got up I faced him, I loved his his height, he made me feel protected, and that wasn't an easy feat because I was 5'8 but he was 6'2 and as I looked up at him, I kinda smiled. And then I yawned again and ruined the sultry look I had hoped I was giving him. He put his arm around my waist and led me to the bedroom.

I kinda jumped into the bed and tucked myself in under the duvet whilst he turned off the tv and the lights and made sure the frontdoor was locked. And then he got into bed, and I felt a thrill that I had never felt before when we had shared a bed.

I liked to play humming songs when falling asleep. One person would hum a song and the other person would have to guess it. So I started humming the Banarama song, "Cruel summer" and then he took my hand and he said, "Are you ok?"

I couldn't see his face because it was so dark, but I knew he was concerned. Maybe worried that he had told me too much. So I leaned up to him and gave him a kiss on the lips and whispered, "yes". And then I put my head on his chest and my arms aound him and he kissed my head and started humming a song. I think it was Dancing Queen from Abba. But I was drifting.

The last words I remember hearing were "I love you". And he was stroking my back. I slept like a baby that night. I was so content.

It got better after that. We were the people that made others believe in love.

I still don't quite know how this happened to us. It shouldn't have happened.

You know that next morning, when I woke up, and opened my eyes, I was staring right into his face and his eyes were open and staring into mine. He looked hesitant, unsure. Not like my Jacob, who was always so self-assured. I leaned towards him, and kissed him and then licked his lips and told him, "I love you too, you goof" and then he started to tickle me and we both started laughing.

I think that I'll try and call him today. I mean, maybe it was him walking down the street? Maybe.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Before the sun

I suppose you want to know his name. It makes it seem more real when I say the name, funny that, because when I think about it, a piece of me dies inside.

Jacob. His name was Jacob. Jacob of the Old testament we called him. Not because he was especially biblical but because he had a kind heart and soul and he favoured me. I was his Joseph, and well, as we got older, people started to resent our closeness. They were jealous. Jacob never noticed that though.

I used to call him Talmudist; once again not because he was jewish, but because both he and I favoured the teachings of the talmud and of course the connection to the Old testament and his name. Tal or Jake.

We were going to go to Israel, to see the Holy Land, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. I made so many plans for us, so many places we would go and see. When we went camping we would stare at the sky and pretend we were in another country and talk about the things we were going to see when the sun came up. We visited so many countries before tthe sun came up.

He would tell me of his dreams at that time. He had visions for the world, huge dreams. And that is when he became animated and alive and he would enrapture me. I was caught up in his talk. Normally he would get so demonstrative that he would get out of his sleeping bag and start pacing and as he talked his arms would be moving and he would come up to me, and pull me up out of my sleeping bag and I would groan but be secretly excited and happy to be included in his ideas, in his aspirations to change the world.

"You and me kid. You and me. We're going to change the world." And then he would laugh. I always thought of us as Jo and Laurie, well before she turned him down and he married Amy. I always thought Jo should have been with Laurie. I told him that I would name my first son Theodore Laurence in honor of Laurie. That's how much I loved "Little Women".

But as he laughed, he would grab my hands and spin me around and we would dance there under the stars, in the woods, and it felt surreal. I always wondered what the wildlife of the forest must have been thinking as they watched us dance around. And then he would start to sing. Sometimes if I close my eyes tight and really try and concentrate I can hear him singing. And if I focus my brain in a certain way, I can smell him.

If I close my eyes right now, and take a deep breath, I can imagine him here with me. I try and reach out my hand to touch him and all I feel is the air. I wonder what he's doing right now. This very instant.

"Oh please, don't you rock my boat. Cos I don't want my boat to be rocking. Oh please dont you rock my boat cos I don't want my boat to be rocking. I'm telling u jah oh. I like it like this, like it like this. And you should know you should know by now. I like it like this I like it like this. Satisfy my soul. satisfy my soul. satisfy my soul. Every little action theres a reaction."

He's listening to Bob Marley. At least that's what I tell myself. Because really I don't know. You wouldn't think we were best friends.

But I don't care anymore. I think that this was the best thing that could have happened. No matter that everytime I go to bed I pray that I will never wake up and I cry my eyes out with the pain in my heart. No matter that as I sit hear I want to scream and shout and die, that I don't think I can endure the suffering any longer.

Sometimes when I am driving and crying and my vision gets blurry, I don't wipe the tears away because I am secretly hoping that I will just CRASH. And die. And then that would show him. It would show them all.

He never visits me. Why doesn't he visit me? Maybe he blames himself? Does he blame himself? I tried to tell him that it wasn't his fault.

No-one knows the pain though. I have a smile on my face. Everyday.

I'm still hoping that the sun will come up.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Book Game

I can't go to Chinese restaurants anymore. I can't stand the smell of sweet and sour sauce, it makes me feel sick to my stomach. You know, we were going to go to China together, make a trek to Tibet, and see some monks. He used to say that he wanted to be a monk, not because he believed in a lifetime of celibacy but because he believed in dedication.

I never met anyone so dedicated. He won the 6th and 7th Grade spelling bees and he couldn't even spell that well, he just practiced alot. I helped him, I was the only one in the 3rd grade who knew what gaiety meant, I was also the only one to have a best friend who was a boy and 3 grades ahead of me.

He never minded the age difference, he was a loner by nature and so had never really needed friends, though he had many. I like to think that I was his first best friend, I would go around to people and say "we're best friends". And look at their reactions, that was when I was 11 and he was 14. They would just look at me and smile, in their heads they were thinking that I was just a silly girl with a crush on an older guy, but he never noticed their reactions.

Sometimes people say that he never really noticed me; that it wasn't that he didn't care about the age difference but that he just never cared about me. Why, they said, would a 14 year old be friends with an 11 year old? I mean, I can admit that I wasn't an older 11 year old. I wasn't smart for my age, or one of those kids that acts like an adult.

I still played with Barbie, I would wash Barbie's hair whilst he read Dickens and Hemmingway. He would sit in a chair at his desk and just read and I would run back and forth from the sink and ask him what he thought. He never got mad at me for distracting him, he even helped me cut her hair onetime. But then we got in trouble, because, well because it was his sisters dolls hair we cut. His sister was a year older than me, people often wonder why he was so close with me and not his own sister. He had no patience for her. I don't know why. I can't explain it. I mean he loved her, they had a good relationship, but they were never as close as we are, I mean were.

When we were a little older, we would play the book game. It was a game that we created when I was about 13, and he was 16. That was the year that I became addicted to books as well. I read voraciously, so that I could catch up with him, and every friday night we would play the game. We had sleepovers every Friday night until he went off to college. Yes, even when he was 18, and I was 15. Our parents didn't mind, they knew that we were like twins, we had a special connection. And they knew that he was in love with another.

So we would lay there in bed and face each other and one of us would quote a line from a book, and the other would have a minute to guess the name of the book, and we would just do that for hours. We got so we had 95% accuracy, I would throw in curve balls from books I knew he hadn't read, that's why it wasn't 100%. He never did that though, I was always the one that liked to spice things up.

One night we played the book game and he quoted a line from "Homecoming" by Cynthia Voigt. It was my fav book as a child, about siblings going to look for their mother who abandoned them in a grocery store car park. I asked him what he would do if he ever got abandoned, and he said that that would never happen. And I said how do you know? And, well I'll always remember this, because he looked at me and he laughed and then he said, "I know you'll never leave me". And then I hit him. And he rubbed my head, as if I were a dog or a little kid, but that didn't bother me, because it made me feel special.

He always made me feel special. That was his power, his charm. But we both knew that what we had was special. Even when we first met, especially when we first met. But, we never told anyone about that. We couldn't.

Every time one of us bought a book, we would buy 2 so that we could both read them at the same time. We would stay up all night sometimes trying to finish, so that we could discuss them. I did most of the talking though, he would interject at some points, but mainly I garbled on. And he never fell asleep, I loved that. Even if his eyes were drooping and it was 3am, he wouldn't fall asleep. And I didn't even have to pinch him, well once I did. But it wasn't hard, it was a soft pinch as pinches go.

Even when we grew older, and he was out of college, we would still play the book game. Right after I graduated from college, he surprised me with a trip to Tennessee, to the mountains. He knew I had aspirations of being a mountain climber. And he also knew that aspirations were all that I had. We stayed in a nice lodge and spent the weekend just walking and observing the scenery.

We slept under the stars the first night, I told him that if we couldn't sleep under the stars we couldn't play. He loved that game, now that I think about it, I think he just loved to watch me talk. I'm an animated talker, voice inflections, face accentuation's, and I am easily excited. He was the opposite, very calm, not very emotive. You know the true genius persona. Because he was a genius. He finished his bachelors degree in 2 years, he was disappointed in me, when it took me 5. But I never had the brains that he did.

When I was 18 and graduated from High School, he had already completed college and was completing his Masters. That was the hardest time for me. He was a more mature boy then, actually he was a man. And I was still a girl. My friends didn't see why I spent so much time with him, even though he was 21 and handsome, they thought he was boring and dull. But he never stopped being my best friend. Not even when he was away in college. We still spent every holiday together. We were a family. Even when our "real families" went somewhere else, we were always together.

He did have other friends. And I was slightly jealous. I just wanted it to be me and him. But he told me that I needed to grow on my own without him. I think he thought I was becoming a little bit too much of a disciple. I think he was uncomfortable after I asked him to teach me how to kiss.

It was a Saturday, we had gone on a picnic and for a boating ride in the river. When I say boat, I mean a rowboat. I had seen a film, and thought it looked cool and so off we went. I was just about to turn 15 and had all sorts of girlish crushes and fancies. As we were eating, he wiped some crumbs off of my shorts, I have to admit that I'd always been a messy eater. He used to tease me about that all the time. I'd tease him for always being so neatly dressed. I never knew a guy who like to use an iron so. But when he brushed my shorts, I felt a little jolt.

"Will you kiss me?" I asked. I always told him whatever I felt, that was the beauty of our relationship. He looked at me and sighed. "Do I have to teach you everything?" was what he said. But I later found out that I was his first kiss as well.

I just puckered my lips out and closed my eyes and leant forward, knocking the bottle of coke over with my arm. I felt a slight brush against my lips. I opened my eyes and he was staring into them. I stared back. Our lips pressed against each other not moving. His eyes were twinkling, the sunlight reflected the picturesque background and seemed to indicate the feelings that were slowly whirling through my body. I closed my eyes again, and pushed my mouth against his a little harder to get him to do something. I then felt his hands on my face.

"Open your eyes," he said. "If I'm going to teach you how to kiss you have to watch it". Even now I don't know how you can watch yourself kiss, but I opened my eyes again. His fingers stroked by cheeks and he leaned in towards me, slowly moving his lips, I remember the tickle on my cheek, and the warm musky smell of the grass and his body as he moved in. And I remember the most wonderful first kiss that a girl could ever have. And then when it was done, he stroked my eyebrows and I stroked his eyebrows. It was our display of affection for eachother.

And then I said, "If she's run off with that gypsy scum, let her run. Let her run through storm and Hell. They're birds of a feather and the Devil can take them both. Now, get me a bottle."

"Your minute starts now."

And 37 seconds later he answered, "If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he couldn't love you as much as I do in a single day."

And we laughed.

That kiss, it didn't change anything. But whenever I read "Wuthering Heights," I feel a pang because it reminds me of that day and of the book game that I don't get to play anymore.