We met in October, a month of changing colors, clean air, and new beginnings.
We lived in the same building, two floors between us. For a few weeks we were nothing more than acquaintances who bumped into each other during fire drills and in laundry rooms.
But then something happened. A conversation happened, to be specific.
I was passing through your hallway, and your door was open. Even before we really knew each other I’d already figured out that you were an open-door kind of person, a trait I admired. I had decided to come in and say hello–only for a moment, I told myself. I was on my way to Elsewhere. But somehow I wound up lounging on your sofa (used, homey, covered in flowery fabric–out of place in an otherwise nondescript dorm) and we were listening to your music and having the best time. You were so attentive, so earnest, so kind. So authentically you, so unapologetic about it. After ten minutes of talking to you I had forgotten all about my other plans and was well on my way to convincing myself that maybe this had been my final destination, after all.
There was just something so shocking about the intensity of our connection–it felt as though we had already met in a past life. Like our souls were old friends, finally becoming reacquainted after several thousand years of journeying on separate paths across the universe.
Maybe that’s what I found so mesmerizing about your eyes that day, aside from their earthy hues of green and gold and brown–as I looked into them, they shone with a comforting familiarity. They told the story of us before it had even begun.
Your sofa was where I let you tuck me in, later in the week.
I was drowsy and ready for bed; you were getting ready to explore the city’s rooftops with a friend. Our paths crossed. I could’ve gone up to my room, but you offered me your couch as a makeshift bed. Already dozing off, I kept my eyes closed as you covered me with a blanket that was warm and just-shy-of-scratchy, and the weight of it on my shoulders felt like a hug. And you told me, in a voice that soothed like a lullaby, that this wasn’t just an ordinary blanket, but a valued possession of yours. It was special to you, and in the last moments before I fell asleep I abstractly hoped that I would one day be special to you, too.
I woke up once that night, blinking groggily in the dark and feeling momentarily lost. But as my eyes adjusted I spotted a note on your desk addressed to me, scribbled in your impatient handwriting. I remembered where I was. And I felt a warmth emanating from my core that wasn’t entirely unlike love.
In the days that followed we got closer, to say the least. The boy with the blue jeans, thick-rimmed glasses and warm smile found a permanent residence in my thoughts. Your name was suddenly a commonality in my journal entries, each one overflowing with hope and optimism. I could sense change in my future and I welcomed it.
Which is why a few nights later, as I stood waiting in the hall outside of room 1213, I was calm, my heart steady-beating in my chest. You let me in; you closed the door behind me.
We each had a beer, but I’m not sure mine ever touched my lips. As we talked it became less of a drink and more of an anchor to cling to as the room was flooded with emotional memories, the kind stashed away in the mental filing cabinet labeled toxic and do-not-touch. I’m not sure what my justification was for unburdening onto someone I barely knew, but suffice it to say that I did. I guess you just seemed like the sort of person I would want keeping my secrets. It felt easier, having you hold on to them for me. And I was happy to hold on to yours for you, too.
The rest of that night was a blur of honesty and compassion and hearts-worn-on-sleeves. Hold out your hands, you said at one point. So I did. You took them gently into your own, you looked at them closely. I remember thinking they looked very small and pale in comparison to yours. I think hands say a lot about a person, you said, and I think yours show elegance and strength. And I wanted to tell you that yours spoke of determination, of resilience, of tenderness.
I’m of the belief that any activity can become an adventure when you’re in good company. We wandered all around our building that night and I never grew bored, not for a second. We sat in secluded-stairwells and in plain sight. We danced in a dimly lit lounge. We talked, for hours and hours, about all sorts of things. We confessed mutual feelings.
And oh, how glorious it felt to be eighteen and invincible and falling in love with you.
The night ended, because suddenly we realized that it was morning already. I think it was something like 4 a.m. when you walked me up to my room (taking the stairs, dragging things out). But in my head, our time spent together was eternal, along with all of the memories we’ve created since then. Filed away in a shiny new cabinet, labeled best-of-times in bright, bold letters.
Do you want to know the best part? At the very last second, we kissed. And it was breathless, and the room spun, and there was an inferno in my chest, like my blood was kerosene and you were breathing fire down my throat. And amidst erratic heart beats and burning, feverish thoughts I discovered that you were what I’d been searching for all along.