Last night, after the movie, we were sitting by our bikes and chatting.
I asked her,
“Do you remember high school? High school dances? There was this girl I really liked, and I asked her to be my date to homecoming. She said yes. She was a Mormon and a Texan, and would later be a big Prop 8 supporter. Not my usual type, but I liked her. We went to the dance together but I spent the entire time ignoring her and dancing with my friends, because I cared so much about what she thought that I somehow couldn’t stand to even speak to her. I was a terrible date. But, anyways, the reason I’m telling you this is because… Because I like you, and I have been a bad and awkward date all night. Sorry.”
And there was silence, though my admission couldn’t have been unexpected. The seconds crawled on and I filled them with mumbled apologies and explanations and forgiveness.
“It’s okay if you don’t feel the same. I won’t bother you about it anymore.”
She eventually said she kind of liked me too, but expressed her reluctance and worry at the fact that I’d be graduating soon. I was planning on visiting Italy, and moving to Taiwan. I had no real plans to ever return to Santa Cruz. She was shy and nervous in her words, but I understood: she did not want to be in a relationship with me. She did not feel as strongly for me as I felt for her.
Later, and this is the part that waxes poetic, I held her as I said goodbye. I was a bit emotional. The holding was for my sake, but she refused to make eye contact. There was no kiss.
“I know you want to kiss me, but I don’t think I can. Don’t hate me.”
“It’s okay. We don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
She told me to calm down, that my heart was beating out of my chest, and reiterated: “Don’t hate me.”
It told her I was calm. I had just ridden my bike up a hill. Of course my heart was beating. It had nothing to do with her.