I’ve been dreaming about you and I don’t know why. I thought if I pieced together my memories of you, they might tell me why you even matter, why you have a space in my brain. Listen to the story of Me and You – a story no one knew existed.
I was drawn to you before I even met you. I saw your photo in the brochure, before I joined the group. My friend saw me staring and told me ‘don’t bother, everyone’s in love with him’.
You were everywhere – loud, eyes sparkling, everyone laughing at your antics. You even had a faithful sidekick, for crying out loud. I can’t remember if we were ever civil to each other, but as soon as you made fun of my clothes I jumped into defensive mode.
To protect myself, I concentrated my efforts on being the anti-you. If you were the Cool Loud Funny Guy, I was the Alternative Weirdo Funny Girl with my over-the-top outfits and obsession with monkeys. I kept you at bay with sarcastic comments when our paths crossed but mostly I ignored you, capering around at break time, head held high, daring you to notice me.
I had plenty else going on in my boy-crazy life, but you were always at the back of my mind. I liked to watch as you played, because it was the only time you were serious. You had beautiful long fingers. I daydreamed about you falling in love with me even while I rolled my eyes at you.
Once you heard I had a boyfriend and repeated this fact at the top of your lungs, incredulous. I think you said you had assumed I was gay. I shouldn’t have expected anything else from you.
Your girlfriends were pretty but boring, no match for you. Maybe you preferred it that way. You spent an entire overseas trip attached to one girl’s face, disappearing into the bushes at every chance. They gave out joke awards for that trip. You were Entertainment Officer and I your second in command. You were dismayed to be in the same category as me, to have our names read out together. I was fiercely glad. I’m an attention-seeker just like you, see!
Late at night somewhere in another timezone, our duty-free liquor and sugary mixers spilling all over the concrete, things came to a head. People asked: why do you two hate each other? You cried innocence. I called you out on the nasty comments. You made some kind of grand magnanimous proclamation that the next day, you would Sit Beside Me On The Bus. An appeasement gesture. I think I was supposed to be grateful. (You didn’t sit by me. Even worse, I saved you a seat.)
On the last night I took advantage of the carnival spirit. You were dressed in drag. In a room full of tipsy, sleep-deprived nerds I joined a massage chain and massaged your back. At one point I covered it in instant mashed potato (so crazy! how memorable!). Nothing happened. It was fine.
I left and you stayed on. You showed up in Facebook pictures posing chummily with your little clique. Some of them were genuinely nice and I wondered how they didn’t see through you. Some of them were even ‘nerdier’ than me. Did you have a change of heart? Did you take them under your wing, or were you poking fun at them even while you condescended to hang out with them? I desperately wanted to be in that inner circle, but I made damn sure it could never happen.
Twice since then we’ve been in close quarters. I tried to keep it casual, light – sometimes I slipped into old habits and got snarky, but on the surface we were two former acquaintances, not a jaded reject and her nemesis.
Teenagers get older and buy houses and get married and think this means they’ve grown up. I hadn’t thought of you at all for years and now here you are, taking me by the hand, whispering that you couldn’t wait to get away from the others, slipping an arm around my waist. Your dark eyes are dancing. I hate you. I don’t want you to leave.