I met him the first time through my bedroom window. It was an ordinary weekend when I was thirteen and he was one of three boys who came knocking on my window in the dark to talk to me and my best friend who was staying the night. I don’t recall why they didn’t use the front door or what we talked about or even if I truly saw his face, shadowed as it would have been by the plants outside my window. The first time I met him, the earth didn’t stop spinning and there was no indication something amazing had just happened.
After that day he would often stop by, usually using the front door after that and we would take a walk, joke or lie on my driveway and discuss the stars. He took me into an abandoned building, he drove me too fast in an unregistered car, he sneaked with me into the park near the dam after it was locked up. He never touched me until I asked him to. And that was a surprise because during my teenage years boys would try their luck wherever they could. Announcing their lust with pointed looks, whistles, touches, attempts to kiss you. But he never did that at all. One summer it was so hot I stripped off to bra and underwear and waded into the cool water but he sat on the edge and never ventured in.
I remember the day he told me he was leaving. And there was no warning at all. Why? I asked him. I tried to convince him to stay. I asked why he hadn’t told me sooner. I think when I eventually realised he was truly going I hugged him, and that was the first time we touched. I can’t imagine what he thought when he returned. I guess it was not what he expected. Maybe he thought he would come to the door and I would still be waiting. Maybe he thought he could tap on my window but it was my brother’s room now and I was suburbs away living in the garage of my boyfriend’s house, 8 months pregnant. It is really lonely when you are sixteen and pregnant. No one really talks about that. They tell you about motherhood and labour and birth but no one talks about the months before when your body stretches and scars and how you can’t find anything to say to your friends anymore. That they stop calling. That you don’t really care when they do because you no longer have patience for their teenage romances when you’re becoming the doorway to life. I was surprised when he visited me there. I am actually still shocked at his bravery because it is quite remarkable for a teenage boy to show up at the home of another boy and ask to speak to his pregnant girlfriend. He didn’t know that at the time I wasn’t actually anyone’s girlfriend because my baby’s father had told me he wasn’t ready but I had no where else to go so I had stayed. He didn’t know that for me the days had been spent crying because I had been told all the ways I was ugly now that I was carrying a child. He didn’t know that that day, when he sat on my couch was the first time I had been truly happy in months. He didn’t know, because I didn’t tell him. And after I had the baby and moved back home he would come to see me all the time and his visits were the bright spot in my days.
When he began dating someone I panicked because I realised I didn’t want him to be with anyone else. I wanted him to be with me. And it terrified me deep inside because he was my best friend and what if I was all those things I had been told? And I guess, on some level, I didn’t think I was good enough for him. What if one morning he woke up and saw me for what I really was and he just stopped coming at all? We dated anyway. And I’m going to be honest here, it was basically a disaster. Because I didn’t know how to be this boy’s girlfriend. He knew too many things about me, like that I was scared to be doubled on a bike and I hated toads and I didn’t hold my liquor real well. He had seen me half naked when we were friends so what mysteries could I possibly serve up to him? I had told him everything and prior to that in all my relationships or flirtings with boys I had maintained a clear boundary. I wasn’t the real me with them. And I couldn’t figure out how to be the girlfriend to this boy who had already seen the real me. One day we had a silly argument and he left. I wanted to run after him. But I didn’t because I was stubborn, because I was scared, because I didn’t want to give him anymore of me than he already had because it felt like he had too much of me already. I didn’t understand why he could push me out of my comfort zone when no one else could. It unnerved me. By the time he came back, my baby’s father was at the house. And he left again.
Throughout the years that followed I would marry, have children, buy a house, move to the country. And at times he would drift across my thoughts like dandelion fluff on the breeze. I guess I never really thought I would see him again. He would always show up when I belonged to someone else. He was always too easy to give me up. To think I was happier without him.
When he asked me to meet him I begged off. I made excuses because I was scared that I would see him and he would unbox all my feelings in one swift move. I was scared I would see him and he would make me happy. I was scared I would offer myself and he would disappear like smoke again. And our messages over the years, either brief or long winded and months between would always seem to dance around a point.
When I finally did agree to meet him I knew that the moment I did I would set into motion something I couldn’t take back. I knew that before I went there.
I went anyway.
We met for the second time in a hoop pine forest. It was autumn, the afternoon light was dappled through the trees, I waited for him in a blue dress with a circle skirt I had sewn myself. While I waited I turned circles like a girl, watching my skirt fly up around me. When he arrived, I stood. I didn’t know where to put my hands, I didn’t know what to say. When he hugged me hello I fit into his arms like the missing piece of a puzzle. And a little while later I would think to myself, just look at him, look into his eyes and you will know. And I did. And that time the earth stopped moving and my soul fused with his and what I saw there, in his eyes was that he loved me. I had a moment to be shocked, I thought, “Oh. After all this time? Still?” Time did not stand still but moved in all directions at once, stars were born and cities burnt to the ground in the time that look took. Everything became clean and clear and I saw that every road had always pointed to him. All my heartaches, tears, triumphs, every broken dream, every breath I had taken had been for this one moment. Somewhere inside me a voice said, “So, this is it. This is what you were waiting for.” The ink was dry.
We threw caution to the wind. We cast our fortunes in together. I knew this would work because it was always supposed to. Our love was divinely ordered. It was written in the stars.
And how silly I had been all those years ago to believe I couldn’t be in love with my best friend, I always was. Love is when he is the bright spots in your day, it is when he sees the real you, it is when his company warms your soul and comforts you. Every day with him is a gift. Love is when he will always come for you. He is my constant. I have always been his.