I recall the exact moment I fell in love.
Nick often jokes that he sought after for me for days and that I was blinded by his subtle advances towards me.
Let’s put one thing on the table: I’ve always been somewhat oblivious to these kinds of things.
And another thing: Nick was probably, like, really subtle about it.
I grew up with a boy as a best friend. When circumstances (ie. moving schools) meant that we wouldn’t see each other anymore and just moved on, my next best friend was a boy, too. I was a relatively shy girl, so most of my girlfriends could pick up when I had a crush on someone without me telling them.
High school was hilarious. Full of crushes and still the whole ‘ooh, ah, you like x’. That was when dating began for a heap of desperate preteens and teenagers wanting to hold someone else’s hand and have a partner and be all cute and stuff. If you were emotionally ready, that is. Like I said, high school was hilarious.
Then again, so was the time (as he refers to it) that Nick and I were ‘friends, but courting’.
‘Courting?’ I laughed.
It was the nicest sounding word he could pick out, though you could have substituted it for flirting, chasing each other, ‘before it was official’, or falling in love.
Falling in love.
Yeah, I like that one.
I remember trawling through our old chat logs with Nick and murmuring under my breath, ‘Why didn’t I notice this? How did I not realise?’
At the time, I had called Nick ‘baby’. I still call him ‘baby’. It’s a pet name I used to despise. It made my skin crawl whenever someone said it. I felt gross hearing it. But with Nick it just fell out of my mouth so effortlessly that it just fit, and that’s how it’s been ever since.
Nick had sent me video of a scene from a movie that had the song Wonderful World by Sam Cooke in it. It was a somewhat romantic scene, and it came up because were on the topic of songs and how some of them made us cry or gave us ‘dem feels’. I thought, aw, what a softie. Nick says he can’t believe I didn’t see that he was trying to tell me something.
I could go through all of the hints that he dropped, but each and every time I missed them, or misinterpreted them as – well, not even over-friendly, but just – friendly gestures. He told me I was gorgeous, and he doesn’t just call anyone gorgeous. He waited for me multiple times so we could catch the train together. He came to my desk every morning, without fail, and then we had tea and juice in the kitchen every morning. He asked me out to lunch. He bought me lunch that time he had been consoling me for half an hour while I was crying at work. He paused between saying ‘I love you’ and ‘as a friend’. Just how many hints did I need?
If I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love, it wasn’t that time he went overseas and I just… missed him and felt sad and lonely for some unknown reason. It also wasn’t that time we spent far too long in the kitchen at work just chatting before realising that a whole hour had passed.
It wasn’t that time he came to my desk just to make sure he didn’t have to see me cry.
It wasn’t that time we went to the dessert parlour together and were both pretending to read a funny article on my phone when really, unbeknownst to each other, we were actually listening to each other’s breathing at the same time we were trying to calm our own.
If either of us had faced each other during those few minutes, I think, without a doubt, that we would have had a moment.
It wasn’t that time we were both a little bit drunk and I leaned on him a little too lovingly not knowing that he was probably mostly OK and I was dizzy out of my wits (because everyone knows you’re the real you when you’re drunk). It also wasn’t that time I promised to take care of him and get him home safe as he drunk himself silly, but it felt so natural to kiss him on the cheek.
It was that entire series of events that somehow avalanched gently into a certain conversation we had.
We were sitting next to each other, because we were working on something together at work. Somehow, the conversation strayed, and we found ourselves talking about ways of describing friendships.
He was the closest friend I had at that point. We were sitting with a fair distance between us, and we found ourselves talking at a low volume, in contrast with everyone else. They were all chatting and not really working. Half the office was empty.
‘What is this? Like, what are we? I have friends, but you’re a really, really good friend of mine.’
‘You’re a really, really good friend of mine too.’
‘I’m not sure what to call this.’
‘Me neither. I’ve never felt this way before.’
I remember our hands touching at that point, my left hand and his right hand, as they lay on the desk with our fingers messily entwined.
‘I’ve never felt this way about anyone before either.’
It doesn’t matter who said what, because either way, we thought the same thing, and it was the first in a series of a thousand things to this day that we have not only thought, but vocalised at the same time.
It was in that moment, as the words fell out of my mouth the same way the word ‘baby’ now does, that my wandering thoughts lapsed and my thinking out loud slowly halted. It was in that moment that our eyes met again and the same quivering feeling of my heart in my chest returned – that same feeling I felt the day I hugged him goodbye and he travelled to the other side of the world.
It was that feeling and the look in his eyes, that when the fairy dust settled, it made me realise that I wasn’t the only one falling in love.