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There was a time once, when I couldn’t go 10 minutes without thinking about you. I would feel guilty even, if, on the off chance, you happened to slip my mind for a mere moment. I used to just sit and think—mind off in another world, stupid smile plastered on my face—of all the times we were together. How I loved the way the light caught your eyes when you smiled, and how your hair was always just disheveled enough to be coyish, and how I could tell when you were just laughing to be polite or when you actually thought something was hilarious. I thought I knew everything about you, and I did…then.
We used to stay up all night just talking; do you remember? About the randomest, stupidest, most trivial things—but also the most important things. I’d fall asleep texting you and every night I’d promise myself I’d stay awake this time. Sometimes we’d say goodnight and then three hours later we would still be in the middle of gossip or discussion. On Skype, if there was ever a lapse in conversation, it was never awkward, merely a comfortable pause between the closest friends; and we could continue right on or mind our separate work for a while (sometimes I just pretended I had work so I could just watch your face concentrate and think: pure beauty).
I’ve seen you cry; you’ve seen me cry, and we’ve laughed together till we were rolling on the floor. I remember once we were all in my basement, watching Madagascar of all movies—it was your first time ever seeing it, and when the cute little lemur came on screen with his big shining eyes, you couldn’t take it; you were laughing and guffawing like I’d never seen you before. Later you said you just couldn’t handle the cuteness. The memory still makes me smile to this day.
We did all our homework together, hours upon hours in front of a webcam detailing notes and projects, problems and solutions; you pulled in all-nighter once with me to help me finish my psych paper.
You tell me all your secrets and I told you most of mine.
You used to text just to say hello or to relay a funny event from the day. I still have all your texts saved; it would break my heart (further) to delete them.
We made t-shirts together once for our Snowball Softball team. Sitting next to me in the art classroom with neon paint covering our hands, you told me to draw on your jeans. I drew a neon pink smiley face right above your kneecap; you never washed it off. Wearing those pants became just another inside joke between us, to add to the list. That night, all of us went to your house to paint the backs, and we did pushups over the shirts hoping each exhale would make them dry faster.
I used to get a ride home from you every day too since we were neighbors and we had basically every after-school activity together anyway. Sometimes you even had to drop me off at weird places and I had to run around the back of houses to avoid being seen by your parents since you weren’t supposed to be driving anyone; but you always drove me anyway. We would jam out to music in the car together. The music you gave me is still the top-played on my iTunes. You showed me random cute music videos or Korean pop stars who you wanted to look like. We practiced dance moves together, made our own routines, and even wrote songs based on inside jokes and stories. Our facebook discussions spammed everyone else’s newsfeeds but we didn’t care and your profile picture appeared across whole pages of my wall with how much stuff you posted and we shared.
We sat next to each other in the middle of the 2nd violin section in Youth Orchestra, referencing jokes and moments no one else knew but us and cursing the meticulous director under our breath.
You came by my house one day after a run just to welcome me back home from a vacation and give me a gift, saying I was missed. You were all sweaty when you hugged me, but I enjoyed it anyway. We caught up that day, just sitting on the front steps for hours talking.
I’ve also seen you at your worst. When you got angry and frustrated at yourself or others, when you were depressed, or made bad decisions hanging out with the wrong people. But I was always there to calm you down, to ease the pain, to cure the hurt; and you eventually returned to your happy, perfect self.
We weren’t so close once. I remember the first time I ever saw you. I had just moved, it was the first day of orchestra and I walked into class talking to my new friend and just sort of trailed off… My mind blanked and the only words that I could think were “Damn. That is one fine looking Asian boy.” I think I might’ve just fallen head over heels that very day. Sure I had crushes and boyfriends and flirt-episodes in between, but I always turned back to you. And once we became close friends, the emotions multiplied—exploded even.
And all that time, some part of me knew you would never love me back. But I didn’t care; I was content knowing I could be part of your life—the best friend, the confidant—and merely admire from afar. I knew I could never have you, but a girl could dream right? And I strove, in every way, to make you happy. Because when I saw you happy, it made me happy. Seeing your smile, hearing your laugh, filled me with a delightful bliss; tingling all the way through to the tips of my fingers and toes, light would seem to fill the room—because you were content.
But all of that’s gone now.
All those memories twinge with a notion of sadness and regret. Months earlier I started seeing signs, but I ignored them because I didn’t want to admit that I could lose you. I noticed you falling for my best friend, and it got exciting as you turned to me for advice, as we figured out together how to do this and that, I was making you happy and so it was fine with me. But then, she rejected you—without realizing it really, she was just being honest—she said she liked another guy.
And you were crushed.
That’s when the worst of it started. Your depressive episodes increased and I couldn’t get you out of your funk as easily, sometimes I resorted to pleading and begging or even yelling right back at you. I noticed you started drinking more; you went back to Taiwan for a month and the drinking age there is nonexistent (or rather “not enforced). When you broke your arm in a painful tennis fall and blamed your “clumsiness” for losing a tournament, you raged sometimes losing control. One day I remember you told me you mixed your pain medication for your arm with alcohol—that was a hard day to endure for all of us. I saw you cry that day. I cried just thinking about your suffering, but I wouldn’t let you see me. It all seems so meaningless now, getting so worked up over some stupid crush, but in high school those things mean the world to you. I was mad at myself too, that I even let you get to that low point; I should’ve been there more, but at the same time I knew I had done all that I could.
But right as I was helping you get over the hurt, get over her, the girl caved. And suddenly you were going to homecoming together and I found out later you had all these secret dates that I didn’t ever know about (which I mean is fine, I just thought you would’ve told me) and then you started lying about drinking again because apparently you didn’t entirely believe that she could change her mind and love you back so quickly. And then there was the brief excitement and I thought you were happy again, that everything would go back to normal, as we planned how you should finally ask her out and we were thinking together for days and then…
You did it. And I lost you.
After that day, October 12th (I still remember), something changed. I want to almost say it was like a “break up” but that would imply a romantic relationship we never really had. We talked less and less, suddenly whole weeks would go by where we wouldn’t exchange a single text, you wouldn’t look at me in the hallway, we were never working in groups together in classes anymore, and you stopped wearing the jeans I painted on. You dropped out of my life. And I tried desperately to hold on, to keep you from tearing away, but somehow I knew that I should let go.
Awkward silences formed between us during orchestra; at one point you just stopped coming. You became short-tempered and paranoid, jealous even if you saw me with your girlfriend. I, who you had once trusted so much, was now some kind of enemy—threatening your relationship. I learned everything about you now from her, instead of from you. Slowly, your other friends began to dwindle away from you, losing hope that you would ever return to yourself again. Maybe I started to believe it too.
And I watched you walk away from me and did nothing to stop it.
The pain haunts me still. And I don’t know if I should blame you or feel guilty. Or both. And sometimes I imagine if right now, you changed back, to the amazing person I fell for and befriended and trusted, if I would be able to ever forgive you, forgive myself and forget. I don’t know the answer to that scenario and I don’t think I ever will. Because deep in my heart, I know it will never happen, that you won’t come back to me: that I’ve lost you, forever.