It's 1999 and the first week into my second year in university. I'm hanging out with my tabletop society friends, catching up on what I missed while I was home over the summer. I'm also playing around with my new GameBoy camera. A friend brings over a new girl, a first year who was interested in joining the society, sits her down with us all, says "Be nice" and leaves. I fall instantly for her, but I'm super shy, so I just act like my usual, idiotic, 19 year old self. Somehow, I get talking about the GameBoy camera, and I show her a feature, hoping to make her smile. I snap a pic of her face and then mine and show her our two faces combined.
She is, to put it mildly, slightly horrified.
Two weeks later one of the other gamers, a year older than me, has made his move and they're the new couple in the group. I'm upset, but resigned. Besides, by now I know she is too good for me. Smart, funny and cute; way outside my league.
Over the next college year we hang out together and have lots of fun as friends. I never say or do anything because a) I'm too shy and b) I wouldn' t do that to a friend. Regardless, it's a good year and I get to know her better and like her more. We get up to some fun, but completely platonic stuff, like swapping jeans for a whole evening while hanging out together.
The following summer a bunch of us gamer friends all move into a house together, including her and her boyfriend. And then, just before their first anniversary, they break up.
So, I'm there to comfort her and tell her she's going to be alright and be that great friend who she realises she loves, like in the movies, right? That's how the story plays out, right? Nope. I am, on that exact weekend while all the drama is unfolding, at home, about three hours away, gettting updates via text and being assured that her other friends are looking after her. Meanwhile, I'm cursing all the gods for my luck.
By the time I get back, she has pretty much gotten over it and is doing okay. That week we hang out and I'm her great friend she can talk to. All the time I want to tell her I like her, a lot, but part of me is reminding me that she's just broken up with this other guy, and needs me to just be a friend right now, so I should wait a bit. Besides, she's still too good for me.
Sunday morning, she knocks on my bedroom door and asks to come in. She sits on my bed and we talk about the movie we had gone to see in the cinema the night before. We talk about other random stuff and then she goes and breaks my heart.
"There's this guy I like, have liked for a while, but I don't know if he likes me. What should I do?"
I hold back the immediate reaction to scream and cry, and instead tell her she should tell him. I tell her that I've waited before and I always regretted it, but I'm so shy I let it happen anyway. She tells me that she met this guy before she even started dating her recent ex, but she had just started university in a new city with new friends, so when ex made a move, she went with him, even though she kinda liked this other guy too.
I'm imagining all the ways I could disappear this new guy, and who it could be given the little information I have on him, but all the while I'm telling her to go for it, to not be like me and let him slip away.
And then she asks what I'd say if she said it was me. I tell her I can't answer that, and she asks why and I tell her because I've never had anyone tell me that before. What I don't tell her is that if I told her the truth, that I really like her, I could lose her as a friend too because she clearly likes someone else now, so, I think to myself, it's best to say nothing.
The conversation drifts on, but honestly, I'm not registering what it's about. At this point I'm still just wallowing in my own self pity at being this close to someone this amazing, but not having her feel the same about me. Eventually I have to get up to get dressed for work. But before she gets up from the bed, she stops, looks me in the eyes and says "It's you. I like you. I'm asking you if you like me too?"
At which point my brain completely. Shuts. Down. I babble something back, get dressed, go downstairs and head out to work without really stopping to talk to anyone.
Along the way I get a text from her saying "Was that a yes?"
We'll be together 17 years this October 21st, married 9 years this August 8th, and have an amazing two year old daughter.
And yeah, she's still too good for me.