I always thought I was good at improv. In class, I could win a debate on a topic I knew nothing about or improvise my way through a confrontation with a disgruntled voter when needed.
But when it comes to what’s important, sometimes you want a script. A script endlessly revised, reworked, tried out in different vocal registers, and said with different patterns of emphasis, all to get it just right. So it was on that truly inopportune night when I decided it would be just right to confess to my best friend of several years that my feelings had stretched far beyond platonic.
During the six dozen times I mentally rehearsed it, it sounded a bit like this:
“______, you are immensely considerate, humble, and fascinating. Every conversation we have, I learn something new about you, and you never cease to amaze me. I am grateful to have you in my life as an incredible friend, which I value more than anything else. However, I promised you that I would always be completely honest with you, and it is unfair to you if I am not up front with how I feel. I wanted to tell you tonight that I have feelings for you that are more than platonic. If that makes you uncomfortable in any way, I absolutely understand. We can forget this conversation ever happened and move on. We can also talk about it more after you take time to think about it. Whatever path you want to take, I am absolutely okay with that. Our friendship means so much to me, and I would never want to endanger that.”
Then, we would perhaps have that cheesy moment where she would realize she loves me, too. We would share a passionate kiss under the moonlight, and we would walk together out of frame into happily ever after.
As you might have guessed, it didn’t quite go down like that.
With my body trembling, completely unable to look her in the eye, I said,
“Remember when you were straight? Well, the number one rule of being not straight is don’t fall for a straight girl, so I tried really hard to repress my feelings. Well, now that you aren’t straight, things…are happening…again.”
When I finished those 15 seconds of word vomit, still staring at the ground like an absolute idiot, she really did not know what to say. She wanted time to think it over, and she would give me an answer the next morning to the question I never really managed to ask.
I knew it was over. I didn’t even have to see the impossibly kind and gracious text the next morning to know that I had really screwed it up this time. Everyone told me I would be glad I did it. They said that by getting these feelings off of my chest, I could move on. But no one told me about the pit you get in your stomach when you think about them. No one told me how much it sucks to stop singing “Bad Liar” and start singing “On My Own” while walking alone down Elm Drive at 1 a.m. No one told me how much it hurts to know I added an extra complication to her life.
Well, it hurts, but at least you reminded me that I am still able to feel that hurt and, by extension, feel just a little more human.