“Do you like me as a girl?”
“What?” I muttered back in surprise to meet her tired, blue eyes staring softly at me. As I continued to gawk mutely, she gracefully knelt beside me on the couch to elaborate on her question. “Well, it’s clear you really like me as a friend. Do you like me as a girl?”
Of course I did! Did she think I’d have invited her home so quickly after getting introduced, and stayed up all night talking about anything and everything if I didn’t?
I am not entirely sure how it all began.
A close friend of a close friend, it was inevitable that I’d stumble upon her at one gathering or another and we’d get to talking. I think it was the evening we’d all been out to the neighbouring comedy club. The comedienne was mediocre, and my mind had begun to wander. I was drawn to the softness of her eyes and the genuineness of her smile from the instant I noticed her. Her dirty blonde hair, parted and held in place with a cute, purple clip—much like a young girl would have worn it—was framing her face and exposing her expressive eyes behind her chic glasses. The way her nose crinkled every time she tried to adjust them without touching them was adorable!
Everything about her screamed a serenity and a positivity that fascinated me, and I soon braved myself to approach her. Before long, we’d retreated from the group to walk along the pier close by, so that we could focus just on each other.
I remember the smell of the cold ocean breeze hitting my face. I don’t recall anything I said, but I can’t forget how easy it was saying it. That’s been one of the most wonderful things about being with her. Her ability to let you know she genuinely cares about what you have to say: listening, empathising, sharing; without judging. The words escaping her moist, pink lips are ever cheerful, soothing and supportive. You know those people who’re born with innate abilities that make their career choices almost beyond question? I don’t think it will surprise anyone who talks to her for a few minutes to hear that she’s a psychologist.
Parting that evening felt incomplete, but I didn’t think she felt the same way. I was wrong. The next morning, I woke to an e-mail fondly reminiscing the things we’d shared, and sharing some more. How she’d felt challenged by me, and how that was a very good thing. It was clear we had so much more to say to each other, and we decided to meet again as soon as we could. After a few days apart, where annoying real life responsibilities—like that lecture I needed to prepare for—got in the way, we found ourselves together at a park. No other friends this time to overwhelm me, just us.
What began at that park in the late afternoon transitioned to my humble abode around midnight. It was early in the morning when she asked me the question; her tired eyes beckoning me for a response.
I wanted to scream out the obvious answer: “Of course! Of course I really, really like you.” But I didn’t. My mind wasn’t prepared for the candidness of her question and it stalled, suddenly nervous, needing to think it through. After a brief, awkward pause, I composed myself and answered it in a strange manner. An honest answer, but still very strange. I don’t know where it all came from—all those probabilities and percentages and all that talk about not being able to open up so much to her if she were a boy instead. I went on and on, talking in circles for what seemed like an eternity until I finally felt I’d blown it and asked, “That wasn’t the right answer, was it?”
“There isn’t a right answer or a wrong one,” she reassured me. “I wanted to know what was going through your mind, and I felt comfortable enough to just come out and ask you. I knew you’d be brave enough to give me a thoughtful answer.”
I’d told her earlier my pantry was bare, and she now suggested we leave to go find breakfast. Quite certain now that I’d blown it, I started to tremble; I spent minutes tying my laces which normally take me seconds. As I was kneeling on the floor fumbling with my shoes, I remarked, “I am not going to turn the question around on you. But I am going to ask you why you asked me.”
“Because I didn’t want to do something indecent,” she sighed softly as she stepped closer beside me. “Indecent? Whatever do you mean?” I egged her on, half-smiling now as I slowly rose. She met my smile with her own. “Like this,” she cooed as she raised herself on her tippy toes and kissed me.
It’s amazing how easy it is to be with someone who’s cheery and doesn’t need reassuring.