When I was 20, through random introductions at university, I ended up hanging out with a bunch of people who I had nothing in common with. We were a “crushing” group: girl A had a crush on boy C, girl B and D on boy B, me on boy A… and I suspect girl D to have had a crush on the latest too.
Basically, we were a dysfunctional group of friends not worthy of a sitcom. We did not last a season – I guess you could say, if you really wanted to push the metaphor, that we only made it for a couple of months after the pilot.
Among these guys, the only one worth mentioning for this post is boy B. Let’s call him Bart. He was the most considerate of the group. He always made me feel at ease in those times when my level of confidence was as high as that of a broccoli. We all hung out together for a few weeks. Breakfast, lunch, a trip to the coast, a university dance with gowns and suits… The whole shebang. Then, as fast as we had merged, we split. We would run into each other on campus, stop to say hello – for those of us who were polite, and get on with our lives.
One day, on my way to meet a friend for coffee, I ran into Bart. A ‘Hihowyoudoin’ was exchanged. That should have been it. But as I walked away, a thought hit me: what if I did not see Bart again? I suddenly felt the urge to tell him how I felt before it was too late. I didn’t think twice: I turned around, stepped towards the group of girls who giggled around him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to me and I simply asked:
– Bart, you know that I love you, don’t you?
I will never forget the look he gave me. His eyes smiled the sweetest, most honestly touched smile. He took my hand.
– I do know.
I smiled and walked away. I stepped into the coffee shop in a kind of daze. As I somehow managed to take my jacket off, my friend looked at me inquiringly.
– I just said ‘I love you’ for the first time.
– Really? Do tell!
He was disappointed to hear I had said those words to a friend and did not dwell on it. It was no big deal to him but it was to me.
That day was the day I decided I had to tell people how I felt about them before it was too late. I do not remember running into Bart on campus after that. I did in a bar one night years later. We only exchanged a few polite trivialities. I did not care. He was and will always be the first man I said ‘I love you’ to. It was the right guy, at the right time and place. I never regretted it because he never made me wish I had never said it or worse, that I had never felt it. I never regretted opening my heart to him because he never broke it. I have never regretted saying whatever I have felt since then because I know that there will not come a day when I will think about anyone: ‘What if I had told them how I felt?’
Expressing my feelings has brought me joy, it has brought me sadness. I have shared feelings, laughter and tears. But regrets I will leave to others.