During the blizzard
I fell in love.
The last time we had a blizzard was the first time I fell in love.
It was the day before my 23rd birthday and they were calling for 23 inches of snow. I hardly knew you.
I had only spent a few hours over a few weeks with you but you said you would like to celebrate my birthday with me. I thought that was exceptionally kind because nobody had ever done that for me before. My birthday always fell during winter break and I usually spent it alone. Birthdays had never been a big deal in my family.
We met for happy hour at my favorite bar and I was early, for once, or you were late… I can’t remember. Either way I had to sit alone for a little while. As I waited, I avoided people’s eyes. Someone’s coming soon, I thought super hard, in case I could telegraph my thoughts. Someone will be here soon and I won’t look so alone.
I half expected you to bail on me. My best friend — from high school — did that all the time. She had bad anxiety and I get that, I really do. I have anxiety too but friendship is stronger than it, even if it means I sat there
Why was I so nervous? My heart was racing and there was only so many times I could check my phone before I began to look desperate. I downed two drinks before you got there. Kill the nerves.
What if we ran out of things to talk about? What would we even talk about? You were older, more experienced, and infinitely more attractive in every way. It was a total mystery why you even wanted to spend time with me in the first place.
Is this genuine? Or is this just some cruel joke? Am I just a listening ear or are we actually friends?
Why was I so nervous?
You came up the steps and I pretended not to see you at first. But How could I miss you? Your bright blonde hair, your radiant smile… I was mesmerized by you.
“Happy birthday!” You said, giving me a hug.
“Thank you. Can I get you a drink?”
You almost nodded, which I found to be amusing. I was always the one buying you drinks. It was habit, and maybe that’s why you kept me around.
“Don’t be ridiculous, it’s your birthday. What can I get you?”
I stumbled on my words, unsure if you would judge me for my choice of drink. Unsure if ordering a vodka cran made me look feminine or immature. Maybe I should have ordered a gin and tonic. I’m allergic to gin but it would have carried a different stigma.
You didn’t seem to care. You didn’t comment on my drink choice, didn’t say anything except “Cheers,” and “Happy Birthday” once again.
“Were you waiting long?”
It had felt like an eternity, but had only been fifteen minutes at the most. “Not at all.”
I wasn’t sure what to talk about. Mostly I was just nervous, I think. My conversation skills, which were ordinarily excellent, had somehow been strangled. Perhaps you could see it, or perhaps that’s just how you are, but you led and I followed. You spoke and everything fell into place.
It was Friday but the bar wasn’t getting crowded. We moved to a private booth in the corner by the window partially so we could see the snow building on the streets below and partially so we could speak over the music without being so
But you were still so close and I had no intention of getting away. Maybe I was just drunk or maybe you were the exception to my fear of closeness. I’d only felt this twice before; two times when closeness did not mean pressure to move in someone else’s direction. This was the third time, and you didn’t tell me to stay close, but I did.
I looked out the window in awe at the silent streets below. Happy hour had long passed but I didn’t want to leave. So what if the blizzard killed me on the way home? At least I would die before my heart was crushed, before I watched you leave hand in hand with someone else. I knew the narrative, and it never ended well.
‘I’m straight’ you had told me at the club two days ago. ‘I’m like, so straight.’ I hadn’t asked. I hadn’t assumed otherwise and I couldn’t figure out why the hell you thought it relevant to confirm what I had already thought to be fact. Because I was straight too.
Because this life would be impossible for me.
You moved into me as I stood by the window, your head buried into my shoulder, your arms wrapped around me. I sighed. This moment, this fleeting moment was all I wanted in the world. I had been alone for so long, and for whatever reason, your soul and mine seemed tethered together by something that neither of us understood. Something very genuine.
“I should head home,” I murmured. “It’s only going to get worse.”
“You could stay,” you said quietly. “I’ve got a bed… we could get snowed in.”
There was no way this was real. There was no way on God’s green earth that she meant it that way.
It wasn’t supposed to be real. It was never supposed to be an option for me — for us. We parted ways and you kissed me on the cheek. I regretted leaving with every step I took out the door.
When I rounded the corner out of sight, I paused. I spun slowly under streetlights, my arms outstretched, praying to the God who made the snow and the cold air. Praying that my heart would hurt for the right reasons, or not hurt at all.