I’m not going to lie; I may or may not have had a bit too much to drink when the conversation got under way. She had met up with us later in the night and the few Miller Lites she had left her in a good position to drop me and the boys off on our way back from the Blackbird. We pulled up in front of Dan’s house, where I would be spending the night, and talked for a bit. She had mentioned to me in the bar that she thought Dave was quite a good looking guy, which I promptly followed up with a text to him in the bathroom saying something along the lines of, “dude, Erin thinks you’re hot. You should go for it.” She was outside smoking when I came back out.
“I wouldn’t go after her if you paid me; you’ve had a thing for her for nearly ten years.”
He definitely had a good point; there had been some small place inside of me that longed for her that entire time. In hindsight I don’t really know why I told him to go for it, maybe I just wanted the possibility of her to be off the table once and for all. After all, the boys and I have a strict agreement to never pursue one of our ex-girlfriends, which would effectively end it. Granted, I thought I had already taken care of that when I told her I had feelings for her in college.
So there we are, sitting in front of Dan’s apartment in the Jeep taking about the events of the evening. I don’t quite know how the topic came up, but after a minute or two we were talking about what she had told me at the bar. I told her how I told him what she said and that he responded that he wouldn’t try to go after her. I could tell by the look on her face that his response was a bit of a shot to her pride, for some reason I felt the need to rectify it. I told her that I wished I could tell her why he wasn’t interested (full well knowing that she would make me), it took a second but it came out. Once it was out there I couldn’t get it back no matter how badly I wanted to.
“Dude, he doesn’t want to go after you because he knows that I’ve been in love with you for years.”
“Oh fuck, what did I just do,” I said as I felt some tears starting to well up in my eyes. I didn’t know what to say, she just sat there looking out the window for a minute before she turned to me. “Patrick, I love you too and I always have, I have just loved you as my brother all these years.” It was the first time she had called me by my name in nearly 8 years; I had never heard such sincerity in her voice in our time as friends. I don’t know if it was the stouts or the fact that I had been holding this feeling in for so fucking long, but the tears were flowing as soon as she finished speaking. She said that she had no idea I had been keeping it in all these years, I guess she did what I asked her the last time I said it when I told her to forget I ever said anything.
At this point I have a million thoughts racing through my head, none more pressing than the fact that I may have just pushed the eject button on one of my most valued friendships. Needless to say, at this point I was really feeling it. She took off her seat belt, leaned over and put her head on my shoulder. I had wanted this for so many years and I can’t deny the fact that it hurt(s) so badly knowing that this exact moment was the closest I would ever come.
She put her arms around me and kissed my cheek and told me that she loved me and she knew how badly I was hurting. “I’ve seen the pain in your eyes that I’m guessing you think you have pretty well hidden and I don’t want to be responsible for more.” What could I say? There was nothing…we just sat there, leaning over her stick shift and holding on to each other.
She kissed me once more before I realized it was almost four, “I should probably get going,” I said. I got out of the car and stood there watching her drive away and wondering what the hell I had just done. Once inside I just sat there on the couch in the dark and after a minute texted her to say that I was sorry for putting her in the spot that I did. A minute later she was asking me what spot and telling me that it was ok; she was the queen of not letting things get awkward. I didn’t sleep very well that night.
I guess that this is about as sweet as bitter gets.