Early March, 2008
Mrs. Hall’s voice, velvet yet commanding, echoed throughout the dim lit auditorium like thunder before the flood. She wanted two things before One Act practice began; silence and light.
Today we would be practicing Act II, Scene 2… or perhaps more appropriate, the kissing scene. It only required the lead actor and actress to be on stage, so the rest of us sat in the stillness as the audience, leaving our characters behind backstage in the wings.
The single beam of radiance shone directly downstage, pouring florescent gasoline down the bodies of the two actors, their chemistry being the catalytic spark to set them ablaze against a backdrop of midnight darkness. They were ready to execute their skills as magicians of the stage.
There’s a chant we say every time before we put on a show. All of the cast members and the backstage crew will stand in a circle facing the middle, crossover our arms like an X, and hold hands. We say a simple line, “There’s magic in the theatre, and the theatre is magic.” After saying this, we all spin to the right, and because our arms are crossed, we are magically able to remain holding hands in a circle while facing out. Then we let go, and give the performance of our life, as if our last.
I sat in my seat, anxiously nervous that my pounding heart would have Mrs. Hall giving my part away to another sophmore. You were on my right, casually watching the senior and junior on stage rehearse their lines over and over again; the light in your copper brown eyes darting between the two on stage; distracting me from the play and reminding me of the reality of us.
The innocence of a first relationship makes new experiences thrilling and terrifying.
Out of my group of friends my age, I was the only one who had not had her first kiss yet. I had eclipsed my colleagues in music, academics, martial arts, surpassed all my freakishly intelligent cousins, whom I’d always been compared to, in achievements and honors in schoool, and tried to keep my family name clean from the detrimental past mistakes of my brothers.
And yet, I found myself frozen in a black hole too abashed to kiss you.
A couple of days before, you had tried to kiss me in the city park, under the stars on top of your grandmother’s blanket – and naturally, bewildered me, turned and you caught my right cheek. I remember your smile, as normal, you played it cool. Why were you always trying to act so cool? Impassively, you shrugged off your wounded pride, and kissed my left cheek – lightheartedly now – too, mouthing against my skin in humor, “I really like kissing your cheeks.”
I slid down in my chair, my hands intertwined atop my stomach, I could feel the heat radiate off your body – and it made me distressingly uncomfortable in my own skin – and this is why I liked theatre, more than not, I was better at being a different character, a different person, a different human.
But I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. I stole glances at you every moment I could – even though I was supposed to be directing my attention to the stage. You were what I wanted to look at, you were the light and silence my heart commanded me to pay attention to. And I am an adamant believer in following my blood-pumping organ.
In my 5 seconds of insane courage, I leaned over through the darkness and kissed your left, unguarded, cheek diligently. I pulled back immediately, not letting the electricity between our skin sear off my lips.
You turned your face towards me, in shock, I think. It was the first time I had ever seen your countenance painted with surprise, so I too was taken back by your reaction, my own display of affection gone from my system already.
In the quiet obscurity of the auditorium, we stayed staring at each other earnestly; our eyes locked in an intimate long kiss, lost in our own Act II, Scene 2.
I’ve had a weakness for light brown eyes ever since.
July 11th, 2015
My head lay peacefully in your lap, I was on the verge of sweet sleep, my jetlag finally wearing off, my inner clock finally converting — to my dismay — from Spanish to American again.
The blanket was wrapped snuggly around our bodies, and your fingers were swimming through my hair softly. My best friend lay on a mattress beneath us, soundly already asleep, the static noise of Harry Potter in the background… I knew, spiraling into unconsciousness I’d remember this moment.
And then you did something annoying. You pulled the soft material over our heads and began watching me drift into dreams. I could feel your eyes hammer into my face. Discontent, I kept them shut for a few seconds, however, my mind was fully awake now, fished up from the lake of slumber.
In that small moment, I posed every question in my 23 year old mind as to why you were doing this. Did you have regrets about us? Were you staring at me because it was the first time you’ve been able to in 7 years? Don’t you have a girlfriend you love? Did you still want me after all this time? Don’t you know we play for the same team? And what am I even feeling? Am I remembering feelings from the past or am I currently having these feelings? But most importantly… why the fuck am I awake when Ramon’s ass is snoring? I should be snoring, damnit.
Grouchy, my eyes finally fluttered open to receive your stare. I pursed my lips close, and clenched my jaw. I was frustrated from old feelings being resurfaced. I had gotten over this a long time ago, and nothing now could change the course of us.
The night before I had already decided that what I felt for you was the comfort of the past. I wasn’t attracted to you now, not physically or mentally, at least not in a romantic way. You had changed though, into someone more compassionate, someone kinder, more affectionate, and more open. All the things I had wanted from you 7 years ago.
I think it was the same for you, too, though. You were comfortable with me, and selfishly, we both took advantage of this. Maybe that’s why, surprisingly, I don’t feel guilty for what happened. I had learned in Spain to live in the moment, without thinking of the consequences in the future. And because you wouldn’t be a major part of my future — there was only now.
So I stared at you back.
I peered into the first pair of brown eyes that broke my heart — and instantly, a flood of thoughts.
You, somewhere, in Greece, getting ready to move your life to the Netherlands to complete your graduate degree in Economics as the economy of your own beautiful country crumbled beneath the heavy debates of money and power.
Money reminding me of green, which reminded me of your Scottish eyes. I should have gone on that date with you, but I don’t not regret going. Double negatives, you’d probably give me shit for using them in a sentence. You were probably waking up somewhere in Alicante, preparing your debate speech for anyone who dared argue with you about why this world needs feminism.
And then I thought about you, my almost Spanish lover, with the sunrise forest eyes. What violinist were you talking to on the streets for casual conversation? Were you showing a new girl the same church we walked through? I hoped that your dog was enjoying your newly renovated pool, in the sweltering Spanish sun.
Your sun-kissed Columbian skin in Madrid that I had had the pleasure of admiring in my final weeks. Distance had stopped our budding romance. Were you dating someone new already? Were you teaching someone else Columbian idioms? I laughed so much with you. We weren’t ever serious, but I seriously did enjoy our time together. You didn’t play games with my heart, and I never had to doubt if you liked me too.. I should have kissed you.
And then I thought of you, and your Italian sea green eyes. I smiled at this point. Were you at your parent’s house beside the sea, camouflaging your own eyes? Or were you in Milano, being posh? I missed you. And it made me think of all the other friendships I had fallen in love with this year. Norge, were you enjoying working in the fjords surrounded by isolating mountains and strange new faces? New Jersey, were you living it up and partying? Had you found a new job? Was your tattoo healing at the same rate mine was? Boston, I missed you, dearly, even though I had just visited you. Were you just as happy as me that we met first in Madrid? Were you preparing for your cousin’s wedding? God, how I wished I was drinking a michelada with you now. Marpar, was Houston treating you okay? Were you struggling to adjust to Texas again as much as I was? When do you wanna fly back to Madrid together to return home?
I broke my gaze with you, calmly and without hesitation — just as I had broken up with you all those years back — and turned around to look at my sleeping best friend.
His head was covered with a blanket, so I couldn’t see much. But his hand was outside of the cover, masking his phone, obviously. I reached over carefully, not as gracefully as I intended, and covered his hand with mine. I don’t know if he felt it or not, but I felt many things.
Here was the one person, not blood related, but more my brother than genetics could dictate, who had been with me through it all.
Sitting in his car outside our high school’s football stadium, after Julian had told me he kissed someone else.
His arm around my shoulder as I buried my grandma, after my flight from Paris had only landed that morning.
His comfort and ability to keep a secret, as my brother ran from federal arrest.
His sympathy, as much as he could muster, during my brother’s trial and sentence. Offering to take me to see him, no matter how stubborn I was to resist.
His willingness to stay with me, to mend me, to act as my caretaker when I lost myself to heartbreak — the first heartbreak to shatter my soul, and make me forget who I am — but he was there to remind me, and to love me, even when I was at my most unlovable.
No matter how far I moved, no matter how many times I ranaway. When I toured Europe the first time, when I went to college across the state (which is a big deal, since Texas is so fucking gigantic), when I moved to Greece for love, when I repositioned my life to Spain for myself.
No matter how much longitude and latitude I put between us, I could count on him to answer his phone after a drunken night in Madrid.
A true Hufflepuff, through and through. Hardworking, loyal, dependent, just, and patient. I admired him for who he was. Our friendship a true testament to my own doubtful mind of love forever.
Laughing softly, I looked back at Julian and said tenderly, “I want to punch him.” Your eyes changed then. From liquid amber intimacy to innocent and fragile friendship. This was how I wanted us, as we were before a relationship separated our hearts. I wanted you as a friend, nothing more, but also nothing less.
You leaned down to kiss me, and I closed to my eyes and prayed your target wasn’t my mouth. Then your lips hit my cheek gently, lingering against my skin, you muttered, “I really like kissing your cheek.”
July 13th, 2015 13/7/2015
My phone buzzed in my lap, your name across the screen. I hadn’t expected to hear from you after our confusing weekend of feelings past.
“You guys will be together forever. It’s good to see.”