Monday, January 7, 2008

A Page Full of Hearts

Growing up I had a lot of male friends. I always had a female best friend, but seemed to connect better with the boys. Perhaps this was because I had 10 male cousins growing up and I tried to fit in, or maybe it was that I bowled, golfed and took karate lessons (mostly boys), or it could just be that I got along better with the boys from an early age and that’s it.

I did many of the typical girly things like passing notes in class, talking on the phone and hanging out at the mall, but I tended to share my secrets with the boys. Luckily this never backfired on me (until I was 19 or 20 anyway) but it did make some situations a little sticky. For instance, in 7th grade I had a crush on my best male friend, Phill. I met him in 5th grade through our church youth group; and even at a young age we clicked almost immediately. In 7th grade we began talking on the phone quite often and hanging out on Sundays after church. We were often teased by classmates, but it didn’t matter—we were just friends.

In the middle of the year I developed a super duty crush on Phill. Every time a youth group gathering came up I would imagine that it would be the night he would ask me to go out (you know, like dating—we probably wouldn’t go anywhere). I wanted to tell him about my crush, but I couldn’t for fear that he would laugh at me. Finally, it was a page full hearts that did me in. During a particularly boring sermon--when we were all supposed to be taking notes--I was drawing hearts all over my notebook paper and filling them with “K + P”. I had not told anyone of my crush at this point in time, yet I was scribbling it everywhere for the world to see. All of a sudden, my best female friend, Belle, grabbed my paper and announced that I had a crush on Peter—another boy in our Sunday School class. Teasing ensued. Quick thinker that I was, I said emphatically, “P is for Pedro.” Yeah, because I knew someone named Pedro. Riiight.

Peter was awkward to be around the rest of the day, but by the following Sunday it all seemed to be smoothed over. As for Phill, we ditched sermon the next Sunday so he could tell me a big secret. He had a crush on Belle. All of my drawn hearts broke simultaneously. I ached in silence as I encouraged him to call her. They ‘went out’ for 3 months, an eternity by junior high standards. Phill and I remained friends during their ‘relationship’ and beyond. As did he and Belle. But he longed after Belle well into high school.

By 10th grade Phill had dated 3 more of my friends but also found the time to escort me to a Homecoming dance, and be a blind date for one of my friends for that year’s Sno Daze. He was a great friend, but my crush had not died—nor had I ever confessed it to anyone. It wasn’t until yet another one of my friends had a crush on him and followed through, only to be rejected, that I shared my story with her. For months we crushed in private, and then they dated. She told him EVERYTHING. Because Phill was a cool guy, we talked about it and continued to be friends; albeit friends with a huge elephant in the room with broken hearts drawn all over it.

To make light of the situation, I made my crush public knowledge. I put myself out there to be laughed at, probably so that I didn’t feel so alone or marked. In what seemed like no time at all, it just became part of our shared history and our friendship continued to strengthen. I had dated during my crush on Phill, but I dated more after the initial rejection wore off. I began to think of him as almost a brother; he had moved from the Prospect pile to the Friend pile.

After high school we drifted, only talking on the phone occasionally and seeing each other once or twice a year. After my sophomore year in college I received a hand written letter from Phill. He poured out his heart, writing about how his feelings for me had changed—grown. It was a sweet letter. I still remember reading it on the floor of my kitchen, sitting cross-legged leaning on a lower cupboard. It was everything I had wanted to hear—seven years ago—and I couldn't get over how sincere and vulnerable he was being, but I really couldn't get over that at that moment I knew he was certainly, unmistakably, a Friend. I called. We met for coffee. We chatted and hugged good bye. Months later he met the woman that is now his wife.

I don’t know how our paths would have changed had I said “Phill” instead of “Pedro” but I know that we had a great friendship and that I would still welcome him with open arms back into my life (as a Friend) if we were to ever cross paths again.


-R- said...

Aww. That is really sweet.

L Sass said...

That is a great story!!

Holly said...

Wow, that's so sad. Thanks for sharing. Timing is everything, huh?