There was a boy in high school English with me whose laser-sharp focus was a perpetual turn-on. He was oblivious to the world beyond his education. I have a history of falling hard for book lovers and anarchists. He was both. Practically the rule. Let's call him Jay. We were 17. And he had an interest in me but I was dating someone and wasn't sure how to navigate the complex social layers of scenting a potential new love.
I tried to get at him sideways, engaging his best friend for a class project and hoping he would come along. He didn't. I joined a club he was in. He took notice, sitting next to me and assigning me roles in his plays. Roles written for me that we laughed about always maintaining a careful distance.
I wanted him. I wanted to be with him, hear him, laugh with him, kiss him, throw off his clothes and mine and explore love in a way that I never had. But no matter how much my desire for him outweighed my interest in my boyfriend, I couldn't let go.
Jay is now a teacher some states a way with a wife and family. I don't know much about him. He seems to have a placeholder Facebook profile, but he friended me as soon as he set it up. We messaged a few times, never touching on any what ifs. Simply congratulating each other on dreams achieved and then losing touch again.
What could have happened if I'd thrown caution to the wind? If I'd worried less about breaking that boyfriend's heart and more about fulfilling my own? Because we were never explicit about our interest in one another, I don't know that Jay would have responded the way I imagined; arms open and lips ready.
Missed connections, unrequited love--questions so often have more power than answers. When I tap into memories of Jay, I can float free of wherever I am in the moment. He was a gentle, no-nonsense young man. I wonder what that would have translated into as a lover. I wonder if the sparks would still fly should we connect today, if we could still fall into each other's arms and explore the potential of love with the carelessness of youth.
I expect this is a question which will never be answered. I am comfortable with that. I suspect it is better to retain the moving memory of desire than to discover how we have both changed in the many years that have passed since we found ways to brush against one another and exchange favorite books.
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