Occasionally in my life, I have fallen so hard in love, that it becomes all consuming, electrifying, all encompassing. This has happened to me in romantic and intellectual ways, the frantic need of another. Sometimes this has been driven by my insecurities, a compulsion to extend my presence so that I can show someone else how amazing I can be. To feel the endorsement from the other because I was unable to self administer this love. But sometimes, I have not been insecure, and then the feelings stem from desire. This is my story about Jay.
Socially, I had been in the same circles as Jay for a while. Same places, same spaces, but interaction was at best limited, at worst indifferent. Looking back with hazy memory eyes it easy to remember details that you only wish had been there. It will be my remembered truth.
We had been at uni together for a while, same course, but whilst the course was massive, the campus was small and there was generally high interaction outside of classes. Especially among those who lived (it wasnt a residential space, this was completely just a place that served alcohol) in the student union, close to both the pool table and bar. Which are clearly cornerstones of student life. So I had seen Jay around a fair bit. Had also bumped into him (not literally, why is this phrase so violent?) a few times in music venues, so there were definitely shared interests too. This seems important. Any friendship can pretend shared interests for a while, but if these fade, then only the dullness of familiarity remains. And this was utterly never the case with Jay.
As we began to chat more often (in the aforementioned bar, some people are monster eager to pool and drink post-lecture. We were those people) It transpired we had much crossover. Music, gaming (SNES is king!), pool (obvs, there was never a clear winner when we played.. but this might be memory and delusions of pool grandeur) but it was somehow even started as more than that. Flirtations with being vegetarian, politics, worldviews, all seemed to harmoniously align. With increased talking, it felt so easy, like our friendship had always been in my life, and we started to arrange to meet up. This was a big change. Meet-ups, on Wednesday afternoons (free periods, meant to be sports afternoon, but campus was too small for any of that nonsense..) became something of a thing.
We started sitting next to each in some classes, moving slightly away from our more established groups. And we would pass notes. Like a lot of notes. This was pre-mobile phone days, and notes were cutting-edge tech. The notes were intimate, sexually driven, but this was all for fun, as we were definitely platonic friends. We said this often.. which might have been a marker, but I guess as long as we both believed it, it carried our truth.
The uni was close to London, so we often jollied into town. We walked over Tower Bridge (underwhelming), bimbled around Camden (so very much awesome), and hit the culture bits too. Tate Modern was my go-to, V&A was his. It is an incredible feeling to show someone else your world and to be able to share the passion that you have for things. Sometimes this feels like a privilege, and looking back I understand how important this is for relationships to work well. If someone close to me isn’t interested in me, and only their stuff, I have learned to step away. This perhaps took longer than it should have, but we are all on our own journeys!
Then, always randomly, always seemingly out of nowhere, something changes. Although we had always got on well, would occasionally hug, there had never been any physicality between us. Then one day, in the union (I blame this place for a lot!) as Jay wandered (swayed) over to the bar where I was patiently waiting already, he pulled my hair. Just a bit, not hard. Over as quickly as it had begun. And somehow there was a noticeable shift, nothing was directly said, no words spoken, but I just sort of stopped and my eyes closed. And Jay watched.
The evening continued much as it had done before, laughing, joking, showing off our prowess with pool cues with our friends, but every so often, I would find my gaze shifting back to Jay, and more often than not, would find him already looking back. Being a competitive sort, I don’t usually back down from being stared at (eyes may be burning, but dammit, I will hold!) but his look, his eyes burned into me. The sudden awareness of every conversation, every mock flirtation, every everything seemed to transfer between us with that look. And it was intense.
No.. intense doesnt really do that feeling any justice whatsoever. It was a feeling of being all the vital of an eternity of lifetimes, the electric surge and power of a strike of lightning that refused to ground, I felt the pressure of the tug of my hair, over and over and over and it coursed through me each time. I didn’t have any clue if this was love, but it was an unprecedented desire that arrived all at once. And then, as with all good things, we both left independently that evening for the holidays..
University is a strange place. We all arrive, so many people, in this almostly instantly close knit community, and then, around every six weeks or so, disappear and return to our other lives, our at home lives. Parents still cook our meals, we find our at home friends, do our at home things. Between me and Jay, we decided to take note passing to the next level. Correspondance! Letters seemed to go back and forth every few days, and whilst there were inferences to this seemingly small act, we were both hesitant, questioning. Where did this place our friendship? What did this mean? Because it transpired fast, this wave of all possibility that had engulfed me, consumed my being, had consumed him too.
This morning before work I saw a couple leaving a house, multiple children in coats, carrying art projects, lunch boxes, waving at their friends. The couple were a morning mixture of chaos, smiles, tenderness, lost keys, and stumbling children. And I thought about Jay. We were almost perfectly balanced, perfectly in sync. I wondered where he might be now, not enough for a social media stalk, but I allowed myself a daydream of a life that might have happened.
And my memory was a bliss.
Map Point: Where in my life do I now feel that intensity?