The thing about an old crush is they should stay an old crush. Old, as in ‘of the past’, and not ‘of the present’. They should be a lingering memory that you replay in your mind repeatedly. The story of that short lived and usually unreciprocated variant of love must sound juicer every time you tell the story.
He watched me over the school fountain behind the student union. I’m 90% sure it was the spring, and you couldn’t tell me that cherry blossoms weren’t falling. I saw in him my peripheral and acted as if I hadn’t seen the handsome stranger a day in my life. His gaze, it burned. My smile, it crept. We took no more initiative than that. We appreciated that beautiful moment, because deep down, I knew I was going to see him again, and I think he knew he’d eventually see me too.
It’s almost four years later.
I’m not just starting school in the unfamiliar city. I’ll graduate in handful of months.
He graduated years ago, and life is all over his face. His beard is thick. His eyes are still warm, but he looks like a man that can’t get lost in a moment like we did years ago.
I got out of my first relationship last year. I speak about it like I’ve barely escaped a war; It’s nice to still be alive, but I’m not entirely sure I’ll be the same again.
He has so many stories about working about a place that he doesn’t enjoy and how he’s too scared to do what he loves. Any advice he gives me about the real world is the unhelpful kind that mostly reflects his insecurities.
He’s handsome when I don’t listen to anything he’s saying.
And he isn’t looking at me like the confident man that peered at me over the school fountain, but he watches me with this sort of longing, hoping perhaps that I still find him attractive, and I don’t but it has nothing to do with the way he appears.
He does that thing where he asks me what kind of guys I’m into, and then attempts to convince me he is that guy. He is not that guy.
I am wildly attracted to men who are excited about the lives they create for themselves. It’s really that simple. And I’m not asking for anything unfamiliar. Nothing on earth makes me happier than writing and I adjust my entire life to do it better. That scares many men. I want to grow a life with a man that can relate to that feeling. He understands his purpose on earth and I find that sexy.
I think he feels bad that he isn’t that guy.
Not every guy is gonna be that guy.
And along that line of thinking, I don’t need to be with every guy; this guy included.
He makes suggestions about visiting his place, maybe even for a couple of days. My head suggests to my heart that maybe we liked him better back when we were too scared to talk to him. My head suggests that maybe my heart has almost no hindsight whatsoever, and shouldn’t accept every invitation for drinks.
My head also suggested that maybe we didn’t actually like him to begin with. Maybe we just liked how we felt during that time. We felt alive. My head full of ideas imagined scenarios and plotted opportunities to run into him and my heart cosigned.
Perhaps I can appreciate the butterflies in my stomach, without asking them for navigating directions.
Maybe we can let an old crush be just that – an old crush.
Maybe I’m capable of making me feel alive now.
Maybe I don’t need your help anymore.