2023-04-26: those things that happened

i was talking with a coworker earlier, and we got talking about our university days. there's not so much an age gap between us as an age gulf, almost fifteen years, so that when he was doing undergrad, i was ten years into my career.

he was talking about how boring his undergrad days were, how he'd just stay up till 4 playing league of legends. and as we talked for a bit, i remembered the time i went to a friend's photography bfa exhibit: how i ran into the girl i kissed under the streetlights at the end of grade twelve, and how she was now romantically with the woman who tried very hard to convince me to be with her during our time together in first year.

(there was the time, alone in a stairwell in the geology building, she asked me if i wanted to play a game; i said yes; she asked me if i trusted her, and i said yes; and she kept asking me that, over and over, as she moved closer to me each time, finally holding my belt loops in her fingers, allowing just the barest touch between us, smiling, waiting for me to make a move i wouldn't make —)

(there was the time, driving to the observatory out of town with two others, we sat in the back seat, and against the prairie night, in the cold and darkness of the car, she stroked the back of my hand with her fingers, took my hand in hers, and didn't let go —)

the conflicted feeling of seeing two romantic entanglements after so many years. the strangeness of them together. to say nothing of the exhibitor, the friend of mine who propositioned me that same summer i kissed the girl under the streetlight, and who i said no to as well, that evening a weird mix of art and happiness and tension and unrequited (or just un-acted-upon) want.

i was young and i was so slender then and every so often in the mirror i see glimpses of that same long-haired boy. then, as now, more handsome, maybe more compelling, than i allow myself to believe.

after our conversation, thinking again about that night, i kept going back to how i often describe myself as boring. was i always? because when i think about nights like this, it puts the lie to my descriptions. how i was entangled with all of them, separately, in such different ways. i only kissed the one, and i hurt her, and i've always regretted that, always. the strangeness i felt to see them all, together, years later. and wondering, ever since, what they told each other about me. about the boy they couldn't convince. the one who told them no.