Friday, August 7, 2009

How I Found My Goose (Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose Part 2)

Despite the increased lack of interest in my romantic endeavors after I became a Goose, none of my friends were or should have been surprised that I ended up that way. I think the only people who were actually surprised were me and L. [Note: I’d thought about using veiled references in my entries, and have been so far for mostly everyone I’ve mentioned, but anyone who actually knows me knows all about L. and me, so the act of veiling him is really quite silly. Plus, Mr. Big is pretty much the end-all to iconic veiled references, and I couldn’t hope to compete. Anyway, if he feels the need to bring up a defamation suit, I’m sure we’ll work it out]. It had been a long time coming, in the works, for many, many months on and off, but in fact L. was the guy who was always there to comfort me after everything ranging from amusing annoyances to heartbreaks with the people I’d been hooking up with/seeing/dating/friends-with-benefiting after the end of Big Relationship.

I met him on the third or fourth day of Freshman year of college, during an orientation program we were both doing, and our connection was instant. I was still involved with Big Relationship at that point, and so at the time justified L.’s and my ever-growing closeness to having found the elusive male best friend at college, but no one else bought that at the time and looking back, I don’t either. Our relationship was sincere, caring, flirtatious, and full of sexual tension, something I recognized even then. I’ve since learned that with all these elements about, he wasn’t able to keep his feelings about the friendship completely platonic, and I don’t blame him: when a girl runs up next to you while you’re walking and slips her hand into yours, naps in your bed between classes, claims you as her partner for dance (Irish and Swing) class, and generally cuddles with you any time she sees fit, you might have a tendency to develop feelings.

Anyway, how long L. had feelings for me at the beginning of our friendship is for him to say, but he did, and although I might have guessed I never thought about it, really. Until one fateful afternoon that quite changed the course of our friendship irrevocably I’d say, and I’m sheepish to even record this event in a semi-permanent place in the online world but it’s essential to my story.

This particular afternoon was the afternoon that L. and I were discussing the game “Make Out Chicken.” This game likely has no purpose for anyone, anywhere except for those two people who are consciously or subconsciously attracted to one another and need a veiled way of expressing that. The “game,” if it can be called such, essentially allows to people to kiss with a guaranteed non-awkward cop out: you both lean in and whoever turns away first is a “chicken.” I think it’s usually done in middle school games of truth or dare and so when two adults decide to do it there’s probably no need for the cop-out option. So the game was played and lo and behold, no one turned away, and that is the unlikely story of our first non-kiss. The importance of the event is that deep down I know that was the day I realized I had feelings of some sort for him without “actually” having that revelation, just a sense that I never got to explore since I had recently become involved with Self-Absorbed and L., with another of my friends. So our strange friendship, with its cuddling and falling asleep in his bed only to wake up at 2am to go home and hand-holding was allowed to continue untamed for many more months, while I shifted through some bad guys and he quietly started and quietly ended something with someone else, which pretty soon got us to the end of the year, during which we said goodbye and that we’d talk throughout the summer.

That mentality lasted about a week into the summer, which was as long as it took for me to realize that I was in love with him. It hadn’t been something I’d ever thought about—had barely even touched upon, except for the kiss in November 2007 and even then the realization never dawned on me—but as soon as I realized it, I knew that there would be at least a temporary end in sight to my unfulfilling string of Guys Who Were Not For Me. Strangely enough, the realization happened one morning after I had had a dream about him the night before, a relatively simple dream in which we were together and it was wonderful; we were genuinely happy. When I woke up, I knew that it wasn’t unrealistic, and for the first time saw that if we were together, it really would be wonderful. I immediately got into contact with the girls, all of whom seemed thrilled and none of whom really seemed surprised.

My mum, however, was surprised when I told her, referencing a conversation we had had the previous Thanksgiving break where I expressed my frustration with deadbeats and she asked why had L. and I never stumbled into anything together, to which I laughed and replied, “Mum, that’s silly. L. is the type of guy I would have as my best friend, but we would never date.” Eating my words, I revoked my Rash Thanksgiving Claim and set my attention on the three or so weeks until I would next see him again, and wondered if I should bring him up to date on my newest Potential Goose situation, and maybe slip in the fact that oh, it was him. He was at Williams for the summer doing a theatre program, with S. and T. , and so I gathered information from them for the next few weeks as I agonized over how to play my cards. Apparently they also let him in on some information of his own, since when I arrived to tell him my big news he somehow already seemed to know about it, but for this I am not upset since if I had truly wanted to treat the matter with discretion, I would have kept it away from my friends.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The big weekend came and C. and I traveled to Williamstown to see our friends and potential lovers, at least on my part. Seeing him again completely confirmed all that I had been feeling, and it was wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to tell him, especially since I knew he had had feelings for me in the past and didn’t think he had ever quite forgotten about it. That night, I couldn’t get him away from the group. When people finally did start to trickle to their rooms I smoothly, or so I thought, left my sandals in his room so I’d have to make an excuse to go back and see him alone. Some of the girls waited in the living room and I lingered in his room to slip my sandals back on. He turned away to take his contacts out and I managed a “L.?”, after which he froze, after which I attempted to kiss him, after which he turned his cheek.

I know he hates when I tell this story because it makes him seem heartless, cruel, hypocritical, insert adjective here. No! It doesn’t do any of those things, really. He was very sweet about it and held my hands while I cried (remember I said I tend to cry about things like this) and tried to tell him that if I hadn’t thought he felt the same, I never would have told him. He told me that he wasn’t ready for a relationship, that it was bad timing, and even though these sound like tried and untrue excuses they were very sincere, and very true. And of course I can forgive it now, but at the time I was devastated. Seeing him the rest of the weekend was mortifying and miserable, and I tried to avoid doing so and even slept on the other side of the building for fear of him waking up to have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, but before I left I did slip a note under his door asking him to forget it had ever happened, that he was my best friend and I hoped that in the fall our friendship could pick up where it left off sans the summer. His door was locked and I did have that moment of panic where I wanted to break the door down to retrieve that admittance of defeat, but months later (post-relationship) when he showed me the note folded up in his desk drawer, I kissed him and knew that it had been a good decision. (I got a kiss back that time, too).

Again, I jump ahead. I cried myself to sleep both of my remaining nights at Williams and on the drive home, and when I arrived home I promptly accepted a date invitation from Summer Romance, who had made his interest known before my trip but I hadn’t cared since I thought I was going to come back from my trip happily taken. And that is a story for another time, the rest of the summer, but for our purposes here I arrived back at school in Fall 2008 and within a couple days’ of knocks on my door to reunite, I finally opened it to see who I really wanted to see. Our friendship picked up again effortlessly, much to my delight, and when I told him about Summer Romance I thought I only imagined a flicker of disappointment in his voice (later he confirmed it). Our friendship last fall actually grew to its most intense point, especially after Summer Romance and I called it quits and for the first time since the cat had been let out of the bag, L. and I were both single.

At this point all my friends knew about all the goings-on and were flabbergasted that L. had rejected my summer advances yet still continued to nap with me, be content to lay with his head in my lap watching tv on weekend afternoons and spend more time with me than with any other female in particular. The idea of us together had never left my mind, even for a minute, even then, but at that point I treated it almost as a lost relationship—something wonderful that didn’t have the chance to reach its full potential. However, our friendship soon got to be too hard to keep separate from that lost notion of what we could have been, and I couldn’t lay in his bed with him holding me anymore without desperately wanting to kiss him, but after my horrid rejection I never would have been able to try to bring it up again and so I was quite stuck. I had two miserable options, or so I thought: continue with the way things were and suffer in silence, or bring our friendship back about 5,000 notches and in that effect lose most of what I loved about it.

This particular point of stress was about early October, after two consecutive Saturday nights spent leaving a party early with L. to go watch a movie or make a 3am snack in the kitchen and be alone together. It was getting to a point I couldn’t handle anymore and it all came crashing down on Halloween night, a Friday. Decked out in my perhaps questionable costume choice (involving bunny ears and a bowtie), I met up with L. (who, if he recalls, spent the night texting me to ask where I was and what I was up to and if he should come), who for the majority of the night seemed distant, and downright weird. He’d wander off to go talk to seemingly anyone but me, and when a strange Pirate I didn’t know attempted to dance with me and I knew then that I wouldn’t want to be dancing with anyone but L. for a very long time, I left the party in tears and ended up quite alone, quite cold and quite crushed sitting outside on the spiral metal stairs leading up to our Observatory at approximately 2am.

C. and S. rallied and I cried in S.’s bed for a good couple hours while they tried their best to console me, then wandered upstairs to my room and continued crying there until well after dawn. Halloween night was also Homecoming Eve, and anyone who knows me knows that Homecoming is Christmas in November for me, so naturally waking up on Homecoming morning puffy, bleary-eyed, and headaching didn’t bode well for my day. I put on a purple and gold face (quite literally, S. and I applied the face paint for everyone) for my friends and went about the Homecoming morning festivities, including making the breakfast-sandwich and hot chocolate run to Dunkin Donuts, borrowing and lending purple clothing and taking a zillion pictures before heading down to the football field. My friends’ tailgate was parked directly across from L.’s a cappella group’s tailgate, and seeing him that morning I knew that I’d have to find a way to cool off our friendship big time without having to reference what had happened over the summer. We were both absorbed in our day so I managed to make it through the game (we won, of course), and make it back home for the annual Homecoming Day Nap, which occurs right after the football game and continues until dinner. After my sleepless night of crying I didn’t want to be alone, so I asked my friends Ariel and Kelly if I could nap on their blow-up mattress and then sleep in their room that night, which they agreed to unquestioningly, so I brought my pillows and blankets in. We went out to dinner and got back and L. texted to ask if I would come to his a cappella group’s show that night, which, bolstered by A. and K., I did. Afterward I headed back to their room and promptly crawled back onto the blow-up mattress, suffering from a massive stomachache (Homecoming food is the kind your body spends the night rejecting) and content to end the night there.

So when L. texted me to thank me for going to the show and asked if he could call me later that night to see what was going on, I gave a noncommittal answer. When he called after that asking if I’d come to his group’s party, I brought Kelly along for support, put on a cute top and a good face and walked over, thinking that it would probably be the best time to have “the talk.” Of course I couldn’t have known he had his own “talk” planned for that night, as well. I immediately sensed something was different when I got there, because instead of arbitrarily wandering to and away from one another in the crowd as we were wont to do usually at parties, we immediately cozied up on a couch and had a great talk (neither of the “talks” we had planned, at least not then), and got some suggestive grins from Octet alums walking in and out of the room.

That was the same night as Daylight Savings, so when, at 1:59, it seemed to be getting late, and then promptly turned 1:00am again, he asked if I wanted to leave and go back to his room to watch a movie, and since this was a very common way for us to end our weekend nights, I accepted without suspicion. I probably wouldn’t have even began analyzing everything that night had it not been for an interaction with T., our mutual friend whom L. had been involved with while I was seeing Self-Absorbed. It was a very flirty interaction on T.’s part, and since she knew of my feelings for L. (we had just discussed it the same night, before the party), I promptly walked out the front door, more than a little pissed.

When L. caught up to me and asked what was wrong, I distractedly answered that I didn’t want to talk about it, because it would mean talking about what had happened over the summer and I didn’t want to do that. It was the first time the night over the summer had been mentioned by either of us and we walked in silence, although not uncomfortable silence, after that. Except for when my feet became freezing (I was wearing sandals), and he offered to let me walk in his shoes (size 13, ladies) while he held my sandals, and he walked in socks. That simple gesture meant more than all the hand-holding, cuddling and pseudo-kissing that had occurred prior in our friendship and I felt not that I was shuffling in giant sneakers, but walking on air. His roommate was on the phone and wanted the room to himself, and someone was passed out on the couch (too much Homecoming spirit, no doubt) so L. and I crammed into an armchair with his laptop on our laps and watched Scrubs. It soon became clear that neither of us were interested in anything but each other, and when we caught eyes for about the 50th time that night, he finally leaned in and kissed me—a real kiss, and it was wonderful, and even though we decided to take it slow for the hopes of saving our friendship, we fell in love not long after.

And that is the story of how I found my Goose.

[Images from CraftZine, ffffound]

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