What happened with Nob threw me off, to say the least. It still doesn’t feel real, even now, two weeks later. It feels especially like a daydream because he lives in a different city and I haven’t seen him since. We’ve been texting, and he wants to Skype sometime soon. Maybe then it’ll feel real.
I think the problem is that I’ve spent the last three years convincing myself that we were never going to work out. I was reading old entries from my old journal the other day, and the more I read, the more I realized that I was really just in denial.
Here is an overview, for your reading pleasure. These were actual things I wrote about Ryan throughout high school.
First, there was a blog post in May of Grade 10 (Full post here):
Nob is incredible. He’s funny, and mature and interesting and smart and he’s willing to talk about Glee with me even at the risk of looking like a nerd for doing so. He’s my first big crush since starting school in the city, and I can barely hold back the crazy teenage squealing that threatens to leave me lips every time someone mentions his name. I am close to Facebook stalking him, I wait with shivering anticipation for every class I have with him, and it’s so difficult not to blush every time we’re face to face. Butterflies in my stomach is an understatement.
Not a lot happened after that. I think I was probably too shy. Probably he was too. And honestly, my mom had just died. For a lot of that next few months I was just trying to get through the day.
Then there was a journal entry almost a year later, on January 25, 2012:
It happened in one moment, like flicking on a light switch. How do I describe it? Everything I thought I knew was swept out from under me, making me question all of it. Now that I know, deeply and completely, that I like Nob, it makes me wonder, do birds really fly? Are mountains even real, or are they just images painted on the horizon?
Oh dear. I think I thought I was being poetic. It’s weird though, because I guess I had that epiphany, but then immediately changed my mind. There’s another entry a few days later which is essentially just me trying to write out how I’m going to say to Nob that I just want to be friends. That month we had gone on a couple dates, just coffee and skating and stuff. I kept flip flopping back and forth between really liking him and feeling like the whole situation was just too awkward and forced. In the end I guess I decided to just end it before it started. This is what I wrote on February 1, 2012:
Hey Ryan, can I talk to you for a sec? *take a deep breath* I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I’ve realized that I just want us to be friends. I’m sorry for leading you on this long. *get ready to walk away* Oh, and Ryan? The next time you like a girl, be confident about it. Because you are a really great guy.
I think when I actually told him in real life it wasn’t quite that eloquent, but the general message was there.
That same month I started dating Patt, which is weird looking back, because I barely knew him. I don’t exactly know why I was okay with dating Patt when I had been so nervous about dating Nob. There are a few entries about Patt throughout February and March, but none of them are particularly heartfelt or meaningful. I’m surprised it took me until April to break up with him.
Meanwhile, Nob started dating this completely ridiculous girl. Let’s call her Deb. Deb was…not very smart. At all. I suspect that’s why I never really saw Nob and Deb having a conversation. Mostly they just made out. Everywhere. All the time. Did I mention that Nob’s locker was next to mine?
The thing is, I kept trying to convince myself that I was mad about Nob dating Deb because they were annoying. Or else I tried to say that it was because I thought (as a friend of course) that he could do better. Except there are entries like this one, from April 11, 2012. Probably within a week after I broke up with Patt. (It’s a poem, don’t laugh)
This gold necklace
links crunched together
crumpled in my hand
A gesture that says
in no uncertain terms
“Mine, all mine.”
But your dusty blonde hair
those eyes that question me
like I question myself
Arms that could encircle me
a hula hoop, but softer and stronger
I can’t crumple that in my hand
you don’t fit in my pocket
or behind a combination lock
So how could she know?
Looking at you,
How could she know
that even when your arms encircle her waist,
you are always
crumpled in my hand
in no uncertain terms
Kind of possessive and creepy, I’ll admit. But it’s also kind of cute. And it’s clear proof that as much as I liked to pretend we were just friends for the next two years, we really never were. Two weeks later, on April 21, there is another entry that more explicitly explains my feelings. From what I remember it was the day after Jan had a party and I had spent most of the night with Nob. His girlfriend wasn’t there, probably because he knew that none of us really liked her.
Nob frustrates me and annoys me and sometimes I just don’t get him. but what matters is that I want to get him. I want to push through his defences and really know him. I want to cause him to give me that look again, that one of honest surprise when I say something that completely disarms him. I want to make him smile, really smile, not because he’s forcing it, or putting on an act, but because for a moment, I made him happy.
I can feel my morals getting blurry here. It’s so easy to imagine grabbing his hand, imagine his arms–so strong and beautiful–wrapped tightly around my waist. It’s so easy to forget that I waited too long and he has a girlfriend now. I know it’s wrong. I know it doesn’t make sense. Most importantly, I know that it is extremely likely that he doesn’t think about me that way at all anymore. I mean, the way he talks about her…and when he’s not talking about her he’s texting her, and when he’s not texting her he’s doing other things with her…
But the way he looked at me last night, how can I discount that? I still have the power to make him laugh, really laugh, catch him off guard, and corner his attentions. It only that were enough. If only it wasn’t too late.
So yeah. Friends thing wasn’t working out so well at that point. Then there’s a lot of entries about how I don’t really want/need a boyfriend, then some more about some random crushes in the summer. It gets interesting again around November. Nob had finally broken up with Deb a couple months before, and he and my best friend Dee had started hooking up. I pretended like it was no big deal when she talked about it. I think to her it was this really casual thing, but I’m not sure what Nob thought. As for me, I wanted them to break it off. My motivations seem pretty unclear.
I don’t like him that way. I had my chance with him and I turned him down. It’s not like I would ever date him. And her? She’s my friend and I should want her to be happy. If he makes her happy I should encourage them. Except I think I preferred her when she was jaded and lonely like me. If we were going to be miserable at least we could do it together.
If they got together I don’t think I could handle it. Even if they avoided PDAs and they tried their best to include me. Actually, I’d rather they didn’t include me. If I’m going to be alone, I’d rather be able to go home and scream into a pillow instead of pretending to smile and have fun with them.
That got pretty dark and bitter. I was going through this phase where I was obsessed with falling in love and I was mad at anyone who was in a relationship. Or I suppose you could interpret the bitterness as jealousy. I’m not sure at this point; you be the judge.
Sometime after that the entries get less boy focused. There’s that brief thing with Tim, and I make out with a few guys at parties, but that’s it. Notably, at one point I made out with Nob’s best friend Drew, but nothing ever happened with that. Then the entries start to be more about my trip to Kenya and my plans for the future. Nob isn’t mentioned again. So maybe I did get over him and we finally became friends, or maybe I just figured out how to push away my feelings for him. Either way, when he started dating my friend Rea in the summer it wasn’t a big deal to me. He seemed really happy with her, and it was a way healthier relationship than the one he had with Deb. I’m not going to say that I never thought about us being together, but I recognized that I was going away to university and so was he. Frankly, I was ready to move on.
So that’s why even though there was all this history, I really never expected anything to happen with Nob. When I look back at this stuff it almost seems kind of inevitable, but it never felt like that for me. If anything, it was quite the opposite. Finally being with him felt kind of miraculous.