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  • “Hi, I’m F.” and extended his hand, which I shook, smiling in response to his sweetest grin. The conversation that followed was as trivial as what you might expect from a high schooler but, my god, was I in love.

    I can’t say that it was unrequited because I knew in my heart that there was a kind of reciprocity in all of it, just not the kind I hoped and worked for. But, just like a dear friend reminded me, years later, to “accept the good”, I think that’s just what I did then: the good, I accepted it.

    The year was Two thousand and two, I was fifteen, knew enough about sex, about the kind of sex I liked and practiced, and also was surprisingly comfortable with it compared to how, as I’m aware of today, other teenagers handled this question. Honestly I was more concerned with what was happening in the middle-east, writing songs about how every soldier in any army of the world should become a deserter and flabbergasted about how my peers were nonchalant over what was about to come (and it did come, but this is not what this story is about).

    However, by any means, I had experienced love. It’s strange to recall that I’ve had my first time when I was twelve years old but would only have my first kiss five years later, though this story is not about this kiss, neither about my first time.

    So it was the first day of my sophomore year of high school, I was sitting beside my friends (certainly no more than two, the way it still is with me) and all that idle chatter was filling the room before the teacher's arrival. A couple of desks were still empty. Some groups were excited welcoming shy newcomers. The teacher arrived, greeted everyone in the room and we all sat down. “That’s it for today” or so I thought.

    About half an hour later, everybody had gathered into their little groups of friends to do some task we were assigned for. The idle chatter subdued in favor of casual but focused and hushed conversation. Focus that was interrupted by the awkward opening of the door. Everyone turned their heads, maybe expecting someone from the school staff to announce something, but no. There was only this guy in the school uniform. Only a - late - new guy.

    The little groups returned to their hushed conversation but the subject now was him or whatever. I don’t know if they were making an effort to hush their speech even further, but I wasn’t able to hear a thing. I... I was petrified in the understanding of what I had just become. Books and lyrics of songs made sense in a nth of a second. My heart raced against my thoughts and all the water in my mouth escaped into a cold sweat in my hands. The teacher said “Hello F., you’re late, find a table and we’ll introduce you in a moment”. The nearest vacant table was by my side and so he proceeded to sit on it.

    Shake of hands: “Hi, I’m F.”

    The moment the teacher mentioned a while before had passed and F. proceeded to introduce himself. Introduction to which I listened intently (I wonder if it showed... I mean, it surely was visible in my eyes had someone looked directly at them, groaking at him with my newfound hunger). I filled the gaps of his enumerations about who/what/when/where/why by forming a gestalt of him out of my heartbeats. He said he was from Rio, I guessed why he came to my city. He said he was sixteen, I figured an approximate date of birth and elaborated a possible personality out of a nonsensical notion of astrology. He said something about his family, I visualized his teenager bedroom trying to picture what band posters would be hanging on its walls. Room which I wondered if, when and why I would be invited into.

    We grew tender, affectionate, close, intimate even, together. But he never knew how far his apartment was away from mine, even though I would walk him home after school everyday just to have the chance to talk whatever shit our teenage selves would desire at the time. He never knew how I was the only one to perceive the way he had of sitting close to someone he liked so close as to rub shoulders and how I would deliberately lean a bit closer, like when we sat beside each other at lunch break, because I knew the shoulder was all I would ever get. He never knew how our horseplay delighted and aroused me and how warm his smile made me. He never knew how deeply I respected and loved him to the point of concealing the hurt to myself. He never knew how hard I forced into myself the understanding that the best he could give me, and he was giving it to me, was good enough. He never knew of love as I did.

    So Life kept doing its job, partner in crime with Time, and high school ended, late-teen-ages and pre-adulthoods ensued, and we walked apart little by little. We kept distant but constant and fond contact. I delved deep into my artistic tendencies while he buried himself into lines and lines of code. We shared a love for electronic music, music which I made, music to which he listened and admired. And just as it had to happen, love shrunk into a tiny sweet scar, one of the many erosions of myself.

    Some time later, though I don’t remember why, I got these couple of tickets for the premiere of the Two thousand and four Spider Man movie. I can’t recall precisely why I was in this particular state of mind either: I thought that if someone had something worth saying, someone should better listen to it. I knew I still had something to say, a slice of hope too, perhaps.

    I had a phone number, I called it. He had time, he came. We exchanged obvious pleasantries and squeezed each other into a sincere hug out of all the time we hadn’t seen each other in person. I had appointed our meeting a couple of hours before the movie so we could go to this large bookstore, flip through some pages and update each other about our lives over some coffee at the store’s café.

    It was winter, the coffee was hot and the light, cozy. At the café, he held a book which had something he wanted to show me, I sat down and, as usual, he didn’t sit in front of me but by my side, rubbing his shoulder against mine, inviting me to lean over that book while he talked about it. In a moment where I was supposed to reply to what he was talking about, I just couldn’t, I was just looking at his face. While he was focused on an undetermined page, I just stared at him, closely. He looked back at me calmly. “What?”

    All of the above, all I said, I said it all. He listened respectfully, like a true friend, as I told him the obvious, that I knew how straight he was, that I wasn’t in love with him any longer, at least not the way I was years before, and that I hoped and trusted that this would not make our friendship awkward, or worse.

    “Is this a date?”

    “Well, you could at least give me the right of thinking that it is our first and last”, I replied with the laugh of an old heartbreak.

    He talked about being, of course, surprised. But not surprised in the sense of “bro, mah frend’s ghey n wants mah d*ck lol”. He was surprised with what he perceive as the courage and, perhaps overwhelming, sincerity of mine. But above it all, gentle as he always were, he was very concerned about how much he understood that I suffered. And, jokingly, told me he was even feeling a bit of pride to have been the subject of a love like this, even if it came from a man.

    Body language, our shoulders remained the same.

    The movie rolled what it had to roll and between mouthfuls of popcorn we leaned our shoulders against each other every now and then to comment Peter Parker this, Mary Jane that.

    I don’t remember much of what happened after the movie, but we probably grabbed something greasier than the popcorn to eat in this odd duck of a date and, after that, off we went back to the Life that keeps drawing us apart. Not that it really mattered or matters, it’s only natural as far as I’m concerned.

    But happily, being the way I think I am, what always remain is some sincere form of art.

    About a year after I first saw him, when the hope, without sadness, was already left behind, I scribbled in a piece of paper:

    if your
    doesn't touch mine
    like I wanted to,

    even if your
    don't look at mine
    like I wanted to:

    just to be...
    just to be with you....

    I will speak strictly the necessary until you...

    just to be...
    just to be with you...

    wanted to speak the truth
    but don't have the courage to...
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