"Lily, I love you..."
I glanced up curiously, already anticipating the eminent pang of the words to come.
"But just not in that way."
I forced a smile as it settled in. "It's okay. I was expecting that."
I struggled to muster what I wanted to say. Everything that had been on my mind those agonizing eight days. I wanted to hug him, knowing it hurt him to say that, but at the same time, I wanted to lecture him, just as I had joked about with my friends.
"Yeah, I told him I actually really liked him, and he was just like: 'I hate to do this...but I'll tell you in a few days.' At the time I was like, okay, whatever. But now I'm like: this is crap!"
I paused, sighing heavily. "Gah, I'm going to get friendzoned. But he is going to get like an hour-long lecture. You cannot text a girl good morning every day and not have it mean something. And if you ask a girl to a dance, you have to make it very clear that you're going as friends..."
Renditions of my impetuous rant sprung up regularly over what had supposed to have been just "a few days."
I couldn't find the words in the short few minutes he walked me home. I tried to lighten the air.
"I'll be okay, really," I assured him, "There's a difference between being fragile and delicate. I'm not fragile."
"That's good," He said slowly.
"And I may be delicate, but I am delicately fierce," I continued, borrowing the eloquent name of a fashion blog.
"Huh?" I had lost him.
"It's like..." I sighed, "I'm not sure how to say this...but basically, I'm a lot stronger than I seem on the outside."
"But hey, I was expecting your response to be so much more convoluted for having me wait over a week," I looked over expectantly.
He smiled wryly. "I tried writing a letter while I was in Chicago, but it got too confusing. And I thought you deserved to hear it in person."
"Oh?" I asked, curious, "What did it say? I want to see it."
"I tore it up and threw it away. It was too complicated."
"That's sad," I said, dejected, "Yeah, I might have to write you a letter because I'm not sure how to say what I want to tell you right now."
We stopped when we reached my driveway. "Hey, I better see you before you leave for college."
"You're seeing me right now," He smiled.
"No!" My laugh tasted slightly bitter, "You know what I mean."
I waved goodbye and headed inside.
After searching for a notebook and pen, I plopped down on the beige carpet. I started writing feverishly. I wrote everything I had ever wanted to say to him.
How I had always been drawn to him for some inexplicable reason. How I told him so I could finally let go. How I was sorry that I made it hard on him after lamenting about friendzone stories together. How I hoped that for future girls, he would be more careful about walking the fine line. How I didn't regret anything--falling for him and spilling my soul. How I wanted him to know that I wasn't wounded--only slightly miffed. How terrified I was to tell him, but how empowering it was to do it anyway. How I knew that things would be different now, but that I prayed with all my heart that our friendship would last.
I didn't stop writing for two whole hours.
I can't help but feel a little dejected. I can't help but wonder if something like this will ever work out for me. But now that I no longer have to agonize about how he truly feels, I can throw my effort into the quickly-approaching, daunting task of college applications.
The art of brushing oneself off after a plummet is mastered through extensive experience. With each stumble, I learn where the road is uneven and how to regain my balance.
I don't regret a thing, because I am free now. From the emotionally-demanding cycle of uncertainty, from the constant, tiring, guessing game.
Tungsten Ring, c/o Modern Design, Inc.
This doesn't have to be a sad song (from "Little Black Dress" by Sara Bareilles). I can wallow in self-pity, or I can simply move on. I consciously choose the latter.
Everything happens for a reason. I don't regret growing closer to him, because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have auditioned for my city's youth orchestra. I wouldn't have rediscovered my inner nerd. I wouldn't have learned to live as if no one's judging. I wouldn't have appreciated music on the same level. I wouldn't be the person I am today.
Some people are only placed in our lives for a few short hours. Others, a couple days. Some, a few memorable years. And even more few and far between--many exhilirating years of this crazy life. No matter how long or short, all of them leave imprints upon our hearts, our souls, our very being.
Only time will tell what kind of friend he was meant to be. And only time will heal whatever scrapes and bruises I inadvertently gained in the process.
I don't feel sad. Simply placid. And perhaps a little empty, like the many boxes in which Modern Design packaged a ring they sent me.
It's a guy's ring, but it's slowly grown on me. Quick-arriving packages in the mail never fail to make me smile, and when the ring fit perfectly, I became fiercely protective of it. The braided design looks delicate, with the immaculate, cool-to-the-touch silver metal, but Tungsten is strong, with a melting point at 6192 degrees farenheit.
I want to be as strong as Tungsten. I may seem girly and innocent on the outside, but this ring is a reminder that I have been through blazing heats and many struggles and not only survived, but found a way to shine. It's a reminder that I am a union of contrasts. I am practical and ambitious. I am outgoing and quiet. I am trendy and hipster. I am a cynic and an idealist.
I am delicately fierce, and I will be okay.