To be honest, my friend noticed him before me. Technically, I met him first, we had a class together, but she pointed out how cute he was. In a café. Really the coolest café that Santa Barbara had to offer. He was behind the counter doing something or another and I didn’t see him there and he gave a little whistle, a “ding dong” kind of doorbell ringing whistle and I looked over and he nodded at me and handed me a coffee for free. I didn’t drink coffee.
Walking away she noted “that was really cute.” And it was.
The next day on the bridge on the way to class I specifically did not notice him again because he had shaved off his facial hair immediately making the magical transition from Amish hippie to teen heart throb. From Eric Clapton to Matthew Broderick. He was kinda upfront about it “not even going to say hi? You don’t even recognize me do you?” and then he pointed at my Amnesty International Shirt. “I’m going to start a chapter on campus. I just decided that. Want to do it together? Give me your number” And I did, and we did.
It’s a matter of youth and impression, really. I was so shy and completely unable to believe someone I thought was cool might think the same of me. I was hiding in this shell. I just sort of ghost walking it all. Absentia. I had a big “freak” sign on my forehead and I knew it. Here he was, a cool guy who wanted to be my friend.
And friends we were. We’d wander around town, go into thrift shops, buy random crap. We’d buy video tapes to see what was on them. We’d plan Amnesty Meetings. We’d go to movies. He’d tell me on the phone when I talked about a movie “are you asking me to go with you? I’m not going unless you ask me directly.” “Are you coming over, ofcourse I want you to come over. Come over and have some coffee”
He’d drink about a pot of coffee a day. I’d watch. I didn’t drink coffee. I didn’t drink. All these memories are lucid.
But that’s what we did, just a lot of time killing.
And the crush. Well it was a kind of crush I’ll never have again. It wasn’t lust or the kind of emotional crush you get when you really really want someone. I was more an extension of this new vision of myself. Someone who could have friends. Who could have things. Who had something to offer to someone she’d want to know.
And it was something more. I got this vision of how I’d want it to be. You know, with the men in my life. I’ve never understood romances that weren’t friendship, partnerships, and this cemented that idea. My love would be my companion. My casual companion as well as my lover. I knew this walking around, platonically, with this friend.
We are still friends. Really. It went through some permutations. It moved through many cities, that friendship. It had moments of romance. Moments of intimacy. But not many. It was a friendship, and it was a friendship crush.
Some people help you become who you were always meant to be by modeling the way. By lighting the path to the next logical step. By presenting a piece of you. And you were always there. Strolling besides them. Browsing through thrift stores. Debating Politics. Being you. Much as you should be.