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Two and a half years ago, and a relationship and friendship were abolished. This is my letter to the boy whose friendship I miss.

Dear *Harvey,

We should’ve known better.

I don’t regret asking you to be my grad escort. You said I beat you to it. But I regret losing a close friend.

Remember my snap-happy mom? Capturing the corsage exchange. Us, side by side in the living room. In the kitchen. On the deck. You, opening the passenger door of your Ford Bronco. Us, in our grad gowns. I think mom went through three rolls of film.

Yes, I was attracted to you. But you were Harvey. You don’t date Harvey. He’s your friend. He’s your confidant. He’s … a great kisser. I forget the rest.

That summer, we became a couple. You were so darn likeable and utterly adorable. My mom called you my teddy bear. Hence the twenty-four inch bear I gave you for Christmas.

We’d known each other since kindergarten. You knew my stories. My crushes. My disasters. Remember grade eight drama club? We played opposite leads. We leaned –  as though to kiss – but were interrupted by your “conscience.” Actually, it was *Drew, wearing a halo made from silver Christmas garland. But years later – remember – we watched the video of that play? Sans Drew? I thought, what a fantastic story to tell our children.
Early in the relationship, you worked for your dad’s company. Far away. For three weeks. Remember our one month anniversary? You arranged for *Lynn to deliver a single hot pink rose.

Our first breakup? Luckily, you missed me, too.

But the New Year ushered in a new issue.

Sex. Or lack there of.

I admit we did more than hold hands and rub noses. We passed a couple bases. But was it love, or in an intense state of like? Because the thought of potentially seeing you naked terrified me. Maybe it was Monica and Chandler syndrome from Friends. But we didn’t have writers. Drama club karma.

I should’ve ended the relationship sooner and salvaged our friendship. But you never realize it’s too late until you’re a pumpkin in the dirt.

I was the virgin in the relationship. I wasn’t ready. Essentially, you wanted something that wasn’t yours. And I ended it in April.

I moved on. To *Ethan. When he learned I dated you for ten non-sexual months, he cut me loose. After a month.

“I need the physical side,” he said. “I can’t wait ten months.”

Props to Ethan for being upfront.

But sex doesn’t equal love. Just as love can’t be proven by sex. They’re different streams. I evaluated my future. Five years in university. For medical reasons, the pill was nixed. Condoms alone? Was I the only one affected by Degrassi’s School’s Out? Plus, I’m a romantic.

I wanted the fairytale first time. With candles and music. Satin sheets. Wind and rain blowing into the bedroom. Roses blooming as I hit the big crescendo. Okay, those last three were a stretch, but I was young and idealistic.
fairytaleI decided to wait for my true love. My soulmate. And I wasn’t convinced it was you.

The summer before I started university, you came to the restaurant where I worked. My stomach flipped as I took your order. That night, you stopped by my parents’ before you left for a week. We made small talk on the deck.

“I need time, Harvey.”

“Then I’ll wait.” You rose and kissed me. “I probably shouldn’t have done that.”

“Probably not.”

You left, and I was screwed. We were friends destroying an already whithering friendship. But neither could let go.

When you returned, we walked along the pier – talking and laughing. You drove me home, and we crept into a tent my parents set up on the yard. I said I wanted to wait. At least until after university. Five years. After law school. You agreed. And we emerged as a couple.
I think you viewed me as a challenge. An uncrackable nut. That fall, we started university and our apartments were a block apart. And you took me on a Jack Tripper ala Three’s Company tour: “Kitchen, living room, bathroom, and heeeere’s the bedroom.”

Presumptive, you pulled me onto your bed.

“Harvey,” I said, under the pressure of your lips as you tried to remove my shirt.

“I know,” you said. “But I have some in case.”

“When do they expire?”

The irony? You left that apartment because of termites. And you moved into the university dormitory. Where you met *Jane. The girl who shot daggers at me the night you brought me to see your claustrophobic dorm.

“Was that Jane?” I asked when we were in your cell. “The one who said she likes you?”

“Yeah. Anyway,” you said, sitting on the bed. “So, what do you think?”

The door was less than three-feet from the bed. I laughed. “God, I’d never have sex here.”

Signalling an open door for Jane. Remember the university’s Halloween party? The one you didn’t invite me to? You know, where you “almost” kissed Jane.

The next night, you confessed what happened. Allegedly, you told Jane I was “too nice” to be cheated on. You needed to breakup with me before you moved on. With her. Oh, how gallant. You said you never meant to hurt me. How nice. You still had a conscience.

Because in a nutshell, you were saying “Jane will f**k me, and by time you’re ready, I’ll be Papa Smurf.”

And you slept with Jane two days later. Wow, the irony of you giving me Jann Arden’s CD the previous Christmas.

But maybe you found Jesus or claimed born-again virgin status, because the tryst with Jane lasted three weeks.

I was dumped because I wouldn’t sleep with you. That was the only reason. And that hurt like hell. We were through.

So, I moved on. To no one. I relished the single life. Living on my own. Dating casually. My parents were convinced their daughter would end up on 20/20 or Dateline since I stayed out late and sang at seedy bars. But I was young and free. And damned if you were going to mess up my wonder years.

But, you were at the 1996 New Year’s Eve social. I ignored you. Until the first slow song, and you asked me to dance. Damn you. Seriously. Damn you. By New Year’s Day, 1997 we’d reconciled. The stormy drive home should’ve been a sign our relationship was on its last legs.

You changed. You were more aggressive. Easily agitated. I invited you to spent the night at my apartment. Again, you were shutout. You left without saying good-bye.
it's easy to have sexThe hold we had on each other was incomprehensible. We never knew where we stood except on shaky ground.

A few days later you called, and we agreed: it was over. Really over. We were the tortoise and the hare. You wanted our relationship to start where it left off – or speed up. I wanted to start over. And our relationship – and friendship – subsequently died. It was mutually unsatisfying.

I missed no-pressure Harvey. Who arranged the anniversary rose delivery. Who read Pierre Berton and Farley Mowat. Who, on our first Valentine’s Day, gave me leather gloves because you learned it was an old English tradition. Who cuddled with me as we chose Sarah and Emily for our future children.

Harvey, we tried to force a relationship out of mutual attraction. And we failed. In photos, we made a cute couple. But photos don’t tell the entire story.

I don’t regret our relationship. And I don’t want the dark times to overshadow the best of us. Remember when you’d saunter into my bedroom, and we’d sing that Charlie Major song? Or our take-out pizzas? With our initials in pineapple? Skating on my parents’ pond on Boxing Day? That’s what I prefer to remember.

And our friendship before I called that June evening to ask you to be my grad escort.

Friends don’t let friends date friends. And no one stopped us. Maybe we should’ve stopped each other.

Because I miss my friend.

Always,

Tessa

**********
*Names changed for privacy.

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