Have you ever been so invested in one thought that it consumes your life? It gets to a point where you no longer have a choice on whether or not to think about it. It haunts you. At the end, whether it's a happy thought or an angry thought, you feel violated. It lingers in and out of your mind with no permission.
See, I've spent all of my high school years head over heels for one girl. There was a period of time where we felt obligated to be next to each other. That’s all the relationship ever got to, a social obligation. But in a sense, it was better than a dating label. She was mine, I was hers. When there was an opportunity to be together, we took it. And when no one was looking we would hold hands, and when everyone was looking we would hold hands too. I remember the only thing in the world softer than her hands was her face. I remember how it felt to touch the tip of my nose to her nose, and then gently rub my cheek with its unshaven teenage stubble against her cheek. All this while she held me tightly, tight enough to leave imprints on my back, like she never wanted to let go, and if I had a chance now, I wouldn't let her. When her preppy little friends did preppy little things without her, we would tell jokes with no punch lines to the friends who've already heard them.
A social obligation wasn't enough for her. I guess I can see why. At the end of the day, we could kiss someone else and feel no guilt. Which is exactly what she did. Except it wasn't just at the end of the day, it was at the end of every day, and at the start of it, in the hallway. I was heartbroken, confused, and knew that if we continued our friendship while she was dating, I’d only get burned in the end. I was smart back then. But I was also stupid enough to ignore my own warnings.
So I spent the whole next year crying and hoping she would she just how defenseless I was without her. THAT STRATEGY DOES NOT WORK. Trust me. Before I knew, she forgot all the intimate time we had, and just remembered the bad jokes. So I moved on, exactly a million times, but she was always waiting with a halfhearted smile that still made my knees weak. And she would hug me when she sensed I really needed it. She was good at that at least, sensing when I was at my lowest. But her hugs were empty, like I was just occupying the space in between her arms. I would clinch just a bit tighter, and she would make that "mmm" sound that used to mean "even tighter" but now just meant "let go"
I did dumb things to get her to notice me again. First, I joined theater, because she did theater. I learned to love theater even though she was never in the plays I was in. My senior year, I wrote a one-act with her exact personality as the female lead and my personality as the male lead. I then cast her as the lead and someone else as me. And she was great. Of course she was, she never had to act. And people loved to see my retelling of how I met this girl. Good thing there was no act two, because they'd see a lot more depressing reenactment. She knew, of course she knew, but she never called me out on it. Just smiled and thanked me for writing and directing it. That year, she was single. So I took all the chances my introverted mind and broken heart would let me take. I asked her to prom. Through a song, that I wrote. But I can't sing well. I did it in front of all our friends because she knew I was shy, and I never openly told her how strongly I felt. So I did it with a bang, and she said yes. That was about it though; she didn't worry about a dress until late, and never wanted to talk plans. Like she knew I was going to be a bad date, so she saw no reason to put in effort.
Then I was off to college one hundred and fifty miles away from her while she completed her senior year of high school. Occasionally she would cross my mind, but I was truly happy being away from her and my suppressive hometown. Then I started losing control. She was just a memory. Yet, she flooded my thoughts. I couldn't keep her out. Her image was everywhere I looked. Her silly little jokes were the only words I could hear. But all the details I had were fading. Only the idea of her was left. For the longest time I couldn't even say if her eyes were blue or green. I now know they're blue green. I spent so much time away, but it felt like my body didn't want to let her go.
Now, we talk a little more often with less awareness of the past. Still though, she can always do something to make me smile and say something to make me cry. And she knows this. I still buy her gifts from time to time to show I haven't forgotten. All she's given back is a ghost that silently shifts in and out of my dreams, waking me up to send a chill down my spine.