The Story That Never Happened

Others drink themselves to oblivion, I watch Firefly reruns instead—which actually isn’t saying much because it has only thirteen episodes. So you can just imagine the state I’m in. Only three days into total emotional wreckage and already I feel a hundred years older, a thousand pounds heavier, and light years away from who I had been on Sunday.

Sunday. Huh. Hard to imagine that was only three days ago, when I was dancing clumsily to Singing in the Rain and telling myself, damn was Gene Kelly fine, but thinking—rather stupidly now that I look back to that moment—that you are fine, too. And I smiled. I actually smiled with that thought, as if your existence in my life could make up for the fact that I had been crushing on a guy who has been dead for decades. But that wasn’t entirely true, was it? Not Gene Kelly being dead for decades, obviously. But the part about your existence, especially the “in my life” part.

If I were to be totally honest (and let’s face it, what choice do I have?), you have never really been in my life, were you? All you were, at most, was someone between a close acquaintance and a creepy neighbor to whom you smile out of courtesy. Apparently, all we ever had was innocent flirting—that’s a perfect oxymoron if I ever heard one.

So why am I in such a slump now? I had been thinking about that since I started the fifth episode of Firefly (yet again) twenty minutes ago, and not even Simon and River getting lost in the woods could get me to focus on the show.

My best friend Jake nagged me about the whole flirting thing. He wanted me to “show some interest” but flirting may very well be second on the list of my greatest fears, the first of which is being buried alive, of course. It was easy for him to advise to flirt. Basically, we’re a walking cliché. He’s the hot one and I’m the smart one, according to people. We’re like Chandler and Joey, only I’m a girl and he’s not actually dumb like Joey. In the end, I bailed out from flirting and opted for actually conversing like a normal person.

“Exactly why are you feeling like shit? You had coffee together and sat across each other,” Jake said when he arrived at my house earlier and found me in a sorry state in front of the television.

“We talked,” I repeated. “That counts for something, and I liked him. He was really fun to talk to. I hate to admit it but I was comfortable with him.”

“Okay, talking is good… being comfortable, sure,” he said, as if trying to wrap his head around the entire foundation on which I’m basing my phase. “But that still doesn’t explain why you’re practically shitting yourself right now watching Firefly. You didn’t sleep together or anything. I mean, you didn’t even kiss.” I punched him on the arm right then.

“First of all, fuck you. Second of all, how is a meaningful conversation less intimate than casual sex?”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

Okay, I may have been exaggerating a bit about him not being dumb like Joey.

“Dude, it’s not exactly the end of the world because the boy you had—okay—a great conversation with isn’t talking to you anymore,” Jake said for the fortieth time today.

The thing is, it’s frustrating. You take away a relationship that has blossomed and developed over time and it’s perfectly acceptable for you to go ape shit about it. But you take away the hope of a relationship you want to blossom and develop over time, and people don’t understand how you’re so fucked up all the same.

I get it. Nothing official ever happened between us. All I’m holding on to are conversations. And conversations don’t make up a relationship. A relationship people want these days should be physical. But being the way I am and finding someone comfortable to talk to like you is as intimate as I could get without actually getting intimate, if you know what I mean.

When I told you about the books I used to read when I was a kid or what my lousy dormmates were like in college, I was letting you into my world little by little. Whenever I told you random adventures with friends and asked you about yours, that was me hoping we’d have stories in common, stories we’d tell our grandkids later. The questions I asked weren’t courtesy questions you ask people to whom you don’t have anything to say. They were borne out of genuine curiosity about you, about how you became this terrific person I had the pleasure of knowing. If those things don’t count, I don’t know what does.

But Jake is right. The world doesn’t end when the boy you like suddenly decides to stop talking to you. There wasn’t exactly a relationship from which you move on. We’re the story that never happened. And probably never will.

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