After meeting our freshman year of college, The Kid From Boston and I managed to stay “just friends” for an entire semester. 

We lived down the hall from each other in a co-ed ten-floor, two-tower dorm with 72 18-year-olds per floor.  The seventy-two of us formed a little family, bonded by seeing each other at various states of undress and consuming mass quantities of booze.  A lot of booze.  Almost daily.  My roommate and I preferred Thirsty Monday, complete with a stolen-fruit WOP made in a plastic drawer which held her socks the other six days a week.  The guys organized Theme Thursdays; they apparently liked any excuse to dress up … and to smoke pot in the stairwell.

The Kid From Boston and I flirted often, kissed once on a dare, and even spent the night together (I was sexiled and stayed on his couch), but we were careful to maintain the friend boundaries; we treasured Best Friend status too much. We held late-night dates where he’d tell me about the girls he’d recently kissed and the girlfriends he’d long-since dumped and I would vent the melodramatic he-said/she-said intricacies of my collegiate experience.

When The Kid From Boston kissed (many) girls on the floor, I pretended not to care. We were Best Friends. I was not supposed to care. Us came up once, while watching My Best Friend’s Wedding on my futon. He pointed toward the screen, asked if that could be us someday. I nodded, smiling at the happy couple. He responded, “Good, so if we’re thirty and never married, we’ll be each others back-up plan.” I remember being outraged.  Thirty? um. EXCUSE ME. So NOT ONLY am I THE BACK-UP PLAN but you are waiting TWO EXTRA YEARS than the characters in the movie? I smothered the automatic defensive retort and filed the conversation as confirmation of our Best Friend status. When I brought up the story a few years later, he was clueless; apparently his mind was not devoted to the complex dialogue of the Julia Roberts romantic comedy but rather the female with whom he was sharing a blanket.

The line was crossed when he started to date my friend from high school.  I remember going to his room and finding her in the hallway … and that second where it clicked … oooh, you’re not here to see me… She was tall and blonde and beautiful.  Any guy would obviously want to date her; I wasn’t about to idiotically question her appeal. 

That following weekend The Friend From High School dragged us –The Kid From Boston plus friend and Me plus friend –to a frat party, where she spent the time getting bombed and introducing me to drunks frat boys.  I flirted and acted a great show, look at these boys paying attention to me!  I am validated as attractive! 

He spent more time possessively touching me that night than any time before or since.

Later, when The Friend From High School plastered The Kid against the wall in an act of drunken seduction, he and I made eye contact.  I looked away.  Just because we were Best Friends and I had given my consent to their relationship did not mean I was able to witness … them.   His lips, however, remained untouched and his eyes stayed on me, with a slightly pained and concerned expression.  When I questioned my plus-one friend–oh so casually, of course, because I really was not paying them too much attention, mind you, but just as general curiosity –why did she think they weren’t into full-on make-out mode by now,  she mischievously answered, “You’re wondering why not?  Because I did that.”

“You?  Did that?  You stopped it?  How?  And why?”

“While we were walking here.  I said, ‘Wise up, Kid.  Molly won’t date someone her friend previously dated, so since we both know you’re in love with her, I would stay away from her friends as fling options.  Unless you want to ruin the both of your futures.’ And he agreed.” 

“He is not in love with me, nor I with him.  We are Best Friends.”

“Shut up, Mol.  Not everyone is as dumb as you two.”

A week later, while celebrating the birthday of a goldfish, our relationship changed. We had our first –ok, the second, but the first one didn’t count it was a dare for God’s sake –kiss.   First in the den, where the sober people were studying and then again sitting in the hallway outside my door.  The negative was that we were drunk and sloppy; the positive, we were emotionally exposed and the liquid courage enabled us to talk freely.   I said I didn’t want to become involved because if we did and it ended I would lose not only the relationship but my best friend.  He answered, “yeah, but I don’t think it will end.  I think you’re it.”  I said all relationships end.  And he said, “But I don’t think ours will.  I am in love with my best friend and I won’t want anything else.”  I expressed doubt, we were so young –I was only months shy of nineteen –and we were drunk, but he asked me to trust him.  Which I did. 

And that was the night that started it all. Amazing, is it not, how easily it began but how difficult it is to end. He not only was my First Love, but he was, I thought, my One Love.  I thought I was going to marry this man.  Being blind-sighted by ones best friend is a difficult obstacle to overcome.

I’ll be fine, though.  After all, I was the one that expressed doubt in the first place.

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