You have a pair of green socks, and they are mine only…I guess they are yours now because I don’t have any real desire to take them back.
I left them on a bedroom floor that didn’t belong to either of us.
Crawling into someone else’s empty bed, drunk and stuck in a whirling loop of thoughts that I didn’t understand and no longer remember, I heard your voice.
You were drunk, too.
You were drunk outside my door and talking to a friend and you were talking about me and I didn’t want to listen, but also I really wanted to listen so I sat very very still and I heard you say you loved me.
I felt sad.
I felt sad because you still loved me and I loved you too but my love was the wrong kind and it was ruining everything and I was just
I can’t sleep with socks on.
I can’t sleep with socks on and I wanted to sleep because I was sad and scared and when I’m sad and scared I go to sleep because that was how I ran away when I was little.
Maybe I’ve grown up, but not that much, so I took the socks off and let myself run again; a little girl closing her eyes and hiding from monsters that no one else could see.
Months later, I was very much awake and as equally sober and I was rushing people out of food-place because I couldn’t clean until they left, and I couldn’t leave until I cleaned, and I couldn’t get to you until I left.
But eventually everything was done and I raced to my car, and I raced home, and I raced to find everything I wanted.
I couldn’t find everything I wanted—shoes, for instance—but I had everything I needed and that was enough.
I had a zip-lock bag with a toothbrush, and your birthday gift which wasn’t huge but I was hoping you’d appreciate it, and a backpack with the dress I had told you once I’d wear but ended up not because I wasn’t sure if I would be the only one looking fancy.
I parked up the block from your house and ran barefooted into the back yard and was immediately overwhelmed by people, but eventually I saw your face and I was relieved.
Unceremoniously, I ran over and shoved the gift into your hands and tried to apologize for being late but you were wrapped up in the party and were pretending to be mad.
Or maybe you weren’t pretending, but I think it wasn’t that serious at first.
I tried to break through and end the joke (or at least thaw the frost, if it was real) but it wasn’t working and I was so tired and I didn’t want anything to become a fight because it was a special night.
So instead I sat down and laughed about nothing with a friend. He wasn’t you, but he was kind (as he always is) and it made me feel good because even if we weren’t enjoying it together, you and I were both enjoying the party and that’s the point of parties, I think, so all was well.
He and I jumped in the pool after that.
He went first, I needed time to mentally prepare myself, but soon enough we were both swimming around and being happy. Eventually he found a girl in a pink bikini to flirt with though (which was okay), and I waded over to the edge of the pool to observe.
I like observing, especially when I’m tired.
Anyway, I started talking to maybe the only person at the party I didn’t recognize because he was alone and I was alone, and sometimes it’s easier to casually talk to a stranger than it is to keep your friends interested in you.
He was cute. But then he said he thought the friend I’d been swimming with was “into” me, and that put a bad taste in my mouth.
That friend was one of a very small number that I hadn’t dated in high school. I wasn’t (am still not) looking to change that because I hurt all the others and am not looking to finish the job by hurting him too.
I hope the stranger-boy was wrong.
I thought about that quietly to myself until a little later, when I went back up and sang happy birthday and cheered with everyone.
And then I turned away because you were so surrounded by all this love and excitement that wasn’t mine, and I wasn’t sure how to push through to give you mine too (or whether or not you wanted it).
I know that last part was stupid—of course you would have wanted it. But truthfully, at that moment I thought you’d just be happier if you didn’t have to look at me; if you could know I was there and was enjoying the party, but didn’t have to look.
So I went back to the pool and tried to flirt with the boy I didn’t know, but I was cold now and really just wanted a change of clothes.
I found some in the backseat of my car. Ripped up jeans and a flannel button-up. It was hipster but I guess I’m hipster, and really, I wasn’t in a position to be picky.
So I changed and went back to the party and that’s when you were by the pool (in the pool, actually) and I went to check on you which was rude because someone I was talking to was in the middle of a sentence, but I felt I had to go so I went.
You were very drunk.
You were very drunk and probably should not have been in the pool.
I started to worry but I’ve been practicing not-worrying (I’m more “chill” now) so I just watched attentively. It didn’t seem like you were in danger.
You tried to climb out when you saw me.
I think you were blacked out because you started to climb the ladder, and then it looked like you forgot why, and someone pushed you back in.
That angered me.
That was a lot of free-wheeling, uncontrolled motion for someone so drunk. It was dangerous to play around like that. Especially in the pool.
What if you hadn’t been able to surface?
I was sober though, very much sober, and I aggressively didn’t worry because I figured if I didn’t see your head pop up within 3 seconds I was entirely capable of rescuing you.
Your head popped up in two, I think.
Not that I was counting.
You climbed out for real that time, someone helped, and you saw me and gave me a hug and I let it happen even though my clothes were dry because I was happy you were too drunk to remember you were mad; or to remember you were pretending to be mad.
Then you tried to talk but you were swaying so I convinced you to sit on a lawn chair.
You were not speaking comprehensibly.
Because of the drunkenness.
You kissed my forehead (which I was okay with because you hadn’t thrown up yet) and you hugged me and you made me guess where you would be on September 27.
You made me look at you but then you yelled at me for looking at you and I was very confused but I smiled when I said “Fredonia?” and you said
You held my face in your hands and I tried not to look at you because I thought you would kiss me and I knew if that happened there would be drama, and there should never be drama on your birthday, so I tried to look away but you had a very good hold.
You pulled me down and we laid there awkwardly for a little and you gave me so much love and I took it because it made us both happy.
But then…you were angry.
All of a sudden you stared me down, and a friend came and took you away from me and you went willingly enough but stared at me all the while you were walking away.
I wasn’t angry. I think maybe I was sad for a second, but it went away.
You were very drunk.
Later that night you summoned me to your bedroom and the friend from the pool came with me. He and your brother.
You were too drunk to remember you summoned me which was probably best, but it was a little disappointing for some reason. The friend from the pool did most of the work, he told you he loved you and we tucked you in (I really just moved your legs and made sure your feet were under the covers) and he promised you we’d stay there with you.
We sat on the floor against your bed.
Your hand drifted down onto his shoulder and we stifled laughs, and eventually your breathing slowed to a rhythmic pace. The friend and I crawled out in the darkness.
If he had not been there (are you paying close attention? this part is important), I would have sat there all night. But I didn’t want the friend to know I am crazy—worse, I didn’t want the friend to know I am crazy and then tell everyone else—so I left with him.
I felt shame as I crawled away, though.
That was the first moment all night where I could have given you the love I brought, and I didn’t stay to give it. I meant to give it to you with the gift, but it didn’t work out.
I could have given it to you while we sat by the pool but you wouldn’t have been able to take it.
Drunk and sleeping in the soft darkness of your childhood bedroom, I could have sat all night and given you the love I had brought. And it doesn’t make any sense, but somehow I know you would have understood.
That didn’t happen though. I crawled away and pretended it was very funny, and then ate a piece of birthday cake because I hadn’t before, and I didn’t know what else to do with myself.
I stayed and talked with a few people until dawn the next morning.
I left before sunrise with someone else, and we drove to the beach.
I didn’t say goodbye, or leave a note, and I don’t think I texted you to say happy birthday until I woke up much later that afternoon.
And by that time you were mad at me.
It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes but I know there is one.
I apologized and it was genuine, but I didn’t feel shame. All the things you were sad about were legitimate, and all the explanations I had were legitimate too.
One of us stopped answering at some point and I mindfully put you out of my mind.
Part of being “chill” is living in the present.
You were not in my present at that…present.
But now here you are again.
Because of an unexpected (although appreciated) apology, but more importantly because of my socks.
You still have my socks!
We don’t talk very much now, and we have very busy lives that are dissimilar to each other and rarely overlap, but we are friends.
And you are right about feeling a little scornful towards the words “best friends.”
Sometimes (temporarily?) best friends become just regular friends, and the opposite is true as well.
Sometimes we love each other more than anyone else, and we are each others’ favorites in any and all manners, and sometimes we are not.
Sometimes I call other people when I have a problem.
Sometimes, I’m sure, you laugh the hardest at jokes that aren’t mine.
But we hold on, and that’s…that’s something.
Not a meek something, or a defeated something. Not a something I accept reluctantly, as if to say uncertainly
that’s enough isn’t it?
But a real testament kind of something.
The kind of something that says…something…and tries to say it right without bogging it down with all kinds of heavy words and promises and declarations of purity and power.
Because once in a while, you don’t need anything more than what’s there.
I didn’t need shoes to drive to your house and find you in your backyard.
I wanted them because my outfit would have been better and the rocks in your driveway would have been considerably less painful, but I didn’t need them. And in fact, I feel in retrospect that it was so much better that I didn’t have them because it spoke more volumes than most anything else ever could.
So maybe it would be nice to fill up “something” with so much more, but that would be giving it limits.
It would be taking water from the ocean and then trying to say it looks just as beautiful in a jar.
Which it most certainly would not.
Sometimes we are best friends, and sometimes we hold on.
And that is something.
A million somethings.
And I love you regardless of whether or not we took photos together at your party the other night.