There are not enough words in my vocabulary to adequately describe the waves of ecstasy vibrating through my bones and up to my goosebumped skin. I noticed him on the first day of 8th grade, but I didn't talk to him, because I didn't really talk much to anybody. I didn't talk to him when he was lugging his gigantic band instrument through the halls, even though I stared at the back of his head all through Louisiana history class trying to dream up a way. I didn't talk to him after I saw more immature classmates giving him a hard time about all the things that I felt made him the most remarkable 13-year-old in our school. I didn't talk to him in high school when he was two rows over in Geometry Honors, but I appreciated the opportunity for occasional glances. I didn't talk to him but I noticed him and somehow I knew bits and pieces of his life. He liked baseball, golf, was better than me in science. I could have kept him chatting for hours with the information I gleaned. But I didn't talk to him, we graduated, and we went to different colleges. I met new friends that weren't from Walker High. I dated, and I made mistakes. I lived out stories that I wrote for myself. I assumed he did the same. We didn't meet again.
But I remembered him. I looked him up on facebook two years ago on some nostalgic morning. And he remembered me. And after two years of random chatting and texting and developing a fierce Scrabble rivalry, this weekend he visited me while he was in town, and I had my first face-to-face conversation with a man I have only ever been able to remember with longing. Longing that I could have not been so antisocial as a teenager. That I could have just started with "hi." That I had felt I had something to offer at the time, because I have always had a very intense kindness and infectious smile to offer.
He arrived, and we talked all night. We talked until six a.m., and I have never felt quite so happy to exchange words with anyone in my entire twenty-seven years on this planet. As the evening slipped by, we carefully colored in the mental outlines we held of each other, and the result was better than I ever could have fabricated in my teenage daydreams. And I know things are always changing and I cannot capture the moment in a bottle to sip at when I need it most. I cannot will him into feeling the same, and I cannot change the twelve years of virtually ignoring him by never sending so much as a smile towards his field of vision or offering even the most banal small talk. However, I am in utter awe of how easy and thrilling the exchanging of stories and smiles and laughter was and I can't decide. I can't decide if it was a mistake to let him walk by every day without making a peep, or if the better half of my years have been a carefully calculated prologue to the best night of my life. We agreed we were happy to finally be conversing, and I fell asleep content.
I invited him back on the day before his flight out to meet me at a friend's gathering. The day was beautiful and if anything is better than spending the entire day laughing hysterically at my best friend's house, it is doing the exact same thing with my childhood crush at my side. At the end of a long day, we were back at my house. After about five more hours of the bliss of being in his company, he kissed me, which is tricky, because once lips are involved, things start to go to hell. But they were his lips, the very same that produced the words that I waited over a decade to be directed towards me, and I could not resist them. I could not resist them because he lives hundreds of miles away and who knows what exact circumstances will have arisen by the time he is able return to me. I could not resist them because I had studied them for thousands of days, and the desire for them had become so strong I could not have moved an inch if I had tried. I have experienced many kisses, probably many more than I should have, and some are boring, some are uncomfortable, some are too wet, too dry, too deep, not deep enough. Some are unexpected, some are unwanted, and some are regretted. In his kisses was everything I have ever loved in a kiss, contained neatly in one precise package. And for hours I floated in a timeless haze, forgetting my age and how it started and how I would feel if it ended.
He is back in Florida now, and my life is back to its normal flow, but the surreality of the past few days lingers. I am the same independent anomaly as ever. And if I never see him again, if the world keeps up its trend of gradually increasing the miles between us, I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I effortlessly told him the things I did not have the courage to admit when my first opportunity passed, snowballing into a five-year soundproof barrier between us. I told him exactly who I am without leaving out the parts of which I am most ashamed. I told him exactly how it feels to have him in my life. I told him, and that is all I can do, and it is all I have wanted for fourteen years.