For the first time, I opened up to her. We talked for hours and hours over dinner. She shared all her hidden feelings about situations seemingly so normal, but that in her mind unveiled a world-wide war. I told her everything: why I might move to Canada, how I worry for the safety of my sister, that new job I really want to get, my dreams, my plans, everything. We both sat there for hours, sharing pieces to the puzzles that are our minds. It felt so good.
After dinner, we set out to find a quiet place to talk in the midnight mist. We arrived at a playground, which although wet, was quiet enough to hear the crickets, dark enough to see the stars and surrounded by such heavy fog that we were locked in our own little world. We played in the slides, in the monkey bars and in everything else. As we played, laughed, and talked, I began to wonder whether there was something more to this night than I had expected. While standing atop a slide, we got so close that it became a bit uncomfortable. But at that same moment, as she rubbed her body against mine to get in the slide, I suddenly realized what I had not seen before. The last few times we hung out together, she was unusually happy to see me, even thrilled. Considering that when I told her my feelings for her she did not reciprocate, that unusual attitude should have raised some flags. It should have alerted me that perhaps I had another chance. However, having already shut down my feelings for her, I chose to ignore all the signs. Yet here I was, with her on a slide in the middle of the night, wondering once again what it would have been like to be more than just friends.
After I helped her get off the monkey bars, I somehow, quite involuntarily, reached for her hands. She smiled, and I smiled. After a few seconds, when it was clear what I was doing, I let go in the most awkward moment. I tried to simply ignore what had happened and was quick to suggest climbing the spider. I got up in a single jump, and then helped her up. It was big and yellow, and as wet and slippery as it was, the spider had but a tiny flat surface on its center on which to stand. So all of a sudden, we were close, very close.
I grabbed her hands. I held them while looking into her eyes, as our bodies touched and our feet were unable to move without slipping off the spider. At that moment, I thought to myself, this cannot be! I cannot do this to myself again! I cannot try again and be rejected. So I said, “Hmmm… this is a bad idea.” Then, I let go and started turning away, if more mentally than physically. But as soon as I let go of her hands, she reached for mine and said, “Yes, a very bad idea.” At that moment, I knew she realized where this was going. I thought, “If I don’t try now, if I don’t tell her how I feel, I may never get another chance like this one again.” And I probably would never have. Once we walked away, we would be back on friend territory. And once we crossed from almost-there back into friend territory, there would be no going back. So, I took a chance.
We stood on top of the slippery yellow spider for a moment, holding hands and looking down. Then, I slowly and gently hugged her waist as she touched her forehead against mine. I felt her nose next to mine, and her rapid breath and agitated pulse on my face. “Well, this is different,” she said. In its most simple meaning, “different” was just that — not like any situation we had encountered before. But in my mind, “different” took on a more complex meaning. What did she mean by different? Did she mean awkward? Was she so uncomfortable about getting into this situation that she did not know how to get out of it? Did she want to get out of this and pretend nothing happened? I did not know. I did not know what to think, what to say or what to do.
“So… now what?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she replied with great anxiety. “You don’t know?” I said, “I don’t know either. I guess we’re just ignorant.” At least she cracked a smile. Then I apologized saying, “I’m sorry, I make stupid jokes when I’m in difficult situations, or when I’m nervous.” “I know,” she said. “I know you very well, and they’re not stupid.” With that little bit of confidence, I rubbed my nose against hers and asked again, “so now what?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Do we stay friends?” I silently yelled in my head, “No!” As I saw us crossing into friend territory, I decided it was time to know once and for all where we stood: were we friends, or something more? With my left hand, I cleared the hair off her face. Then, very slowly, my nose moved down her nose and my lips got closer and closer to hers. We closed our eyes and then barely touched half of our lips. I opened my eyes, and she had started to open her mouth very slowly, getting ready for a kiss. I closed my eyes again and in a moment of mindlessness, we kissed. We kissed very softly while standing in the middle of a war zone, a war of friendship against relationships. As I kissed her cotton candy lips for the first time, it seemed like nothing else mattered anymore. The whole world was just her and me, on that yellow spider, kissing in the fog.