The first time I saw you, you were sitting at a lunch table reading the first book of the Harry Potter series alone. You were dressed in the school uniform, but it seemed as if the khaki slacks and navy polo was carelessly draped over your thin and gangly frame as you ceremoniously shifted your frameless glasses upon your nose. Your eyes, hidden behind those spectacles, were large and hazel resembling an innocent child’s, and it matched perfectly with the shade of your pin straight hair that fell onto your forehead.
So I walked up to you, and sat in front of you, waiting a whole two minutes before you decided to notice my presence and look up.
“Hi,” I said, offering you a small smile.
The look you gave me discouraged me to ever talk to you again, but I learned to ignore it. Full of confusion, surprise, sadness, and even anger flashed across your face before you lifted your glasses up again with your forefinger.
“Are you talking to me?”
The breath I didn’t know I was holding was released in relief as I nodded. “There isn’t anyone else here, right?” I laughed and gestured my hands around me, to point out that there was no one else sitting at this table.
You looked around, as if you were taking my words seriously and you shook your head. “No, I guess not. Have you read any of the Harry Potter books?”
We were eleven then, tiny and barely old enough to think for ourselves, but I befriended you that day, much to your disdain, as you preferred to be alone.
Our class wasn’t big; only thirty people in the sixth grade, but our peers were very judgmental.
After a week of talking to you so you wouldn’t be alone, people started noticing and they decided to tell me.
But I would just ignore them all, and still talk to you, because you proved yourself as an interesting and amazing person full of laughter and love that no other child cared to seek in you. I now realize how lucky I was, to have a friend with qualities I've never seen in anyone else. You were something different.
Remember; we talked about everything in the mornings and during our lunch hour. We started off with Harry Potter (I now thank J.K Rowling immensely for that), but then it shifted to others books and movies. I knew you weren’t ready to talk about why you were so anti-social, and I understood that.
But by a month later, people stopped picking on you. Naturally, I was curious as to why the abrupt changes occurred. So I asked you about it.
“Because they feel sorry for me now.”
“Huh?” was my intelligent response, and you just rolled your eyes at me. You’ve become so much more comfortable around me, and I couldn’t help but feel flattered.
“It’s because of you,” you exasperated and put a bookmark in the third Harry Potter book. It was battered and worn, as it belonged to your uncaring cousin who wrecked his car three times. “You’re scaring people away.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. I didn’t want to be known as ‘scary’. “Huh?” I said again and you huffed.
“You’re… popular,” you tried again, shifting your glasses up on your nose. “And when a popular girl like you in a school this small talks to a loser like me… people get curious and they, I don’t know, stop bothering me, I guess.”
And you have no idea how glad I was to hear that.
Two months later, I met your mom at the school’s open house. She seemed surprised when I introduced myself to her as your friend. At first, I wondered why you never mentioned me to your parents, but when she started hugging me and kissing my cheek while peppering me with questions, I understood why.
I brought you under my wing. I took you to sit with me and my friends at our lunch table. You worked with me during class assignments. We stayed afterschool and bought popsicles from the gas station next door and ate them on the roof until we were caught with other students by the teachers.
By seventh grade, we were inseparable, but many people wouldn’t approve of such a close relationship between a boy and a girl, but we didn’t care.
Then we joined a competition for school. We were in separate teams, but we still traded gossip from our groups, which our team members frowned upon when they found out.
I worked really hard with my team while one of your team members did all the work. Then the day we went for the competition, you gave me your shirt because another school’s student 'accidentally' spilled coffee on mine.
I remember admiring you as you walked around and presented your math model presentation in your white plain undershirt. You weren’t too tall then, but your gangly features gained some muscle so I fit into your while button down perfectly.
But when your team won, I was beyond jealous and angry that I didn’t talk to you for days.
You wondered why, and I could see the hurt etched in your large doe-like eyes when we returned back to school the following week after being in another state for our competition. But back then, I was just angry that you and your team didn’t even work and still won while my team and I worked so hard on our presentation, staying up late night after night researching on perfecting our model. But none of that matters anymore.
Days later, while I was sitting on the roof of the school reading the first Harry Potter book to see why you liked it so much, you came up with two popsicles and sat beside me.
We just enjoyed each other’s presence, eating our grape popsicles, until the high school physics teacher caught us and chased us down.
We couldn’t stop laughing after that, but I was just glad to have my friend back again when you said, "friends forever?"
Nodding, I stuck out my pinky which you wrapped with your own and smiled. "Friends forever, that's a promise."
By eighth grade, you were taller, bigger, and more social. Our social standings were equal now and no one could –or wanted to- remember the days you would sit in the back and read Harry Potter books alone, perching up your glasses-which you switched out for contacts- with your forefinger. You started smirking a lot and girls fell on your feet when you spoke to them.
Your new trademark was a wink. It still is. One wink, whether it is in real life or over Facebook and Skype, could cause a girl’s heart to flutter and brag to her friends. But you still acted normal around me, or so I kept telling myself.
A year later in freshman year, when I turned fifteen in March, I noticed that you were acting different towards me. You would talk to me with hidden remarks. Little winks. Frequent hugs. I didn’t make anything of it until you put a note in my locker.
You revealed your true feelings, for which I admire you for because that must have taken a lot of courage, especially with someone with reactions as unexpected like myself.
You told me you loved me, and loved everything about me. You said in that note that if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be who you were today. You said you didn’t want to be good friends with me any longer, but something more. You signed it off with a winking smiley face and a heart with your name.
Panicked, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say, or what to feel. So I confided in my best girl friend about you and your note. She said this it was petty love, like a puppy infatuated with its owner, and I should just ignore it.
Now I know that she was just one of those girls who begged for your undivided attention everyday.
So a day later, you came to me at school by my locker and smiled knowingly and dazzlingly showing your pearly whites. It caused a tug at my gut and my breath to waver at what I was going to tell you.
Hundreds of thoughts flew through my mind at that moment. I even thought to make an excuse. Should I pretend I never got the note? Say my mom wouldn’t allow it? That I wasn’t ready? But I said possibly the worst thing I could have that day.
I told you that I didn’t feel the same way.
Your smile faltered into a frown and you furrowed your brows as you casually leaned into the wall. But I knew you better than you thought- you just needed something to support you up and that little twitch with your bottom lip meant you were close to tears.
But as much as it hurt me inside, I kept a straight face.
“Oh. Okay.” Was all you had to say before you turned around and walked off.
I didn’t know that would be the last moment you talked to me for a long time.
In the middle of tenth grade, you moved across the country. I found out through friends and Facebook, a month before you were scheduled to leave.
When you were about to leave and asked all the girls for their Skype usernames and e-mails, I died a little inside, even though you already had my Skype and e-mail.
I just didn’t want to see you get over me so quickly.
Those two months not talking to you hurt me. Our friendship was ruined just because I didn’t think before I spoke, and I understood if you never wanted to forgive me.
I shattered you. I saw you break before my eyes. But like my mother, I knew how to control my emotions.
When I started the second semester of sophomore year without you, it was like I was a fish out of water; nothing seemed right. Every lunch hour, girls from our school would trade stories of Facebook chats with you or e-mail exchanges you said. Funny how all your messages ended with a wink.
And as your best friend, I didn’t even get a single message or chat.
As your best friend, I didn’t understand why you talked to the girls we made fun of every day so non-chalantly.
And lastly, as your best friend, I didn’t know when we stopped being “best friends”.
I’d do anything to take back what I said. I always loved you too, but not how you loved me.
I loved you like a brother, someone I could confide my deepest secrets to. Not as someone whom I could be romantically involved with. You were just too special to me.
I’ve started to read all the Harry Potter books, in memory of you, and I have to say as much as it bores me to death, I bear with it because you loved the series and you would force me to wait in line with you when a new book came out. I remember listening to your rants about this character and your gushing about how heroic and brave Harry was at a scene I couldn't care less about. But I still listened and stayed in line and watched all the movies at the midnight premeirs with you.
It’s been a year later and I haven’t heard a direct word from you. You still live across the country, and I have no idea how you’re doing, besides your Facebook status updates and the occasional picture you post with the same beautiful girl. You've gotten taller, I noticed, and your hair has turned lighter, like the shade of copper. When I see these recent pictures of you, my heart aches because it misses you, and I do too.
Then, a month ago you messaged me.
I stared at that little chat box for a whole five minutes, not believing you finally decided to talk to me again.
“Are you talking to me?” I typed.
Even though you’re half a country away, I know you smiled like how I did. I’m sure, even five years later, we remembered the exact words of our meeting.
We ended up talking for three hours that night. I didn’t want to tell you the time here, because I knew you’d force me to go to sleep, and I didn’t want that. I just wanted to talk to you. We had a lot of catching up to do.
You started by telling me you recently had a Harry Potter movie marathon.
Memories of how we met and our first conversation flooded through me, and the little part of my heart that went missing finally returned when I said goodbye to you that night.
You made it clear you didn’t want to go back to being best friends because it would rekindle your feelings, so I agreed with just catching up occasionally, even though it hurt so much to say it.
When I see pictures of you with that other girl online, who you said was a great friend at your new school, I can’t help by sigh and think back to the times of regret. But I had my chance years ago, and you don’t deserve to be hurt, especially again. And, don't worry about me; I'm fine, and I'll always find a way to be.
You are now out of under my wing, and you’re living on your own, meeting new people and trying new things. I’m extremely proud of you for that. I'm just so happy to have been a part of your life, and will never regret befriending you, even though it didn't last a lifetime, like how we would constantly promise each other.
Some promises are just meant to be broken, and this one was for the better.
I'll always be here for you and I hope only the best for you, because you deserve it.