Love & Sex

Five Stories: Falling For My Best Friend

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"I don't know how to say this, but…"

I received word one day that I had lost my job, and had to start contacting everyone I knew for work. I knew Neil as an acquaintance from school, so I emailed him, asking him if there were any opportunities available where he was. He emailed me back saying that there was a position available in his department and he had gotten me an interview. I was hired, the job was awesome, and I was put right beside Neil so he could show me the ropes. I was pretty happy about this upturn of my fortunes and made lots of friends at the office. It was the kind of environment where everyone always goes out after work for drinks.

After a night of sleeping on Neil's couch, I realized he made me feel more alive than anyone else I had met in a long time.

After a night of sleeping on Neil's couch after a party, I realized that this funny, intelligent person made me feel more alive than anyone else I had met in a long time, and he was single. The only problem: I had applied to grad school overseas earlier in the year and had just been accepted. I had six months left before moving away for at least a year. But my feelings were becoming impossible to ignore.

I was getting ready to leave his place, and we were standing alone in his hallway. "I think, before I leave, you and I should hook up," I blurted out of the blue. He looked shocked. "That might be interesting." Then he paused, "But you're going away soon, and we work together. I need to live my life compartmentalized this way. I can't live with my heart on my sleeve like you." And then he told me about his ex-girlfriend of two years who had left for another country, essentially dumping him without telling him. I said, "So, this is never going to happen, is it?"

"How do you know it won't some day?" he asked.

"This will never happen," I said, and left.

Later, over email, we agreed to be the same as before, but it was never the same for me again. My heart was so broken. Three months later at work, via email, typing next to each other, I told him I couldn't be friends anymore. It was too painful. He was visibly angry and stopped speaking to me. From then on, every day, we worked in silence, and he timed his vacation on my birthday and week of departure to avoid the office parties. The other girls at work would constantly gossip about his new girlfriend, though it was killing me inside.

After three months of not speaking at work, without our coworkers noticing, I flew overseas and secretly left him a small toy from one of our old jokes on his desk before I went. I'm still working overseas for that company and my contact is, yep, Neil. So far it's just civil work-related emails, but I hope maybe we can talk like real people again someday.

 A.

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I'd met Jess in psych class. She thought I was someone else she'd known in high school, so our quick friendship was something of an accident to begin with. Certain every-day stoner tendencies on my part landed us in the back row of the same class, making jokes about our prof. Classroom friendship soon progressed into frequently hanging out, catching movies, etc. One day, on the way to yet another flick, talk turned to baseball. I mentioned if we headed to the ballpark right at that moment, we would be there no later than the third inning.

As we sat there, I realized I could do this for the rest of my life: beer in one hand, arm around Jess, watching baseball.

Sure enough, we settled into the cheap seats with our beers as the Rangers were coming up to bat in the third. As we sat there, I realized I could do this for the rest of my life: beer in one hand, arm around Jess, watching baseball. I was on such a cloud I don't even remember who the Rangers played, much less who won the game.

We continued hanging out throughout the summer. I said not a word about my burgeoning love for her. I was (am) so scared of girls. Finally, as summer turned to fall, I got a weekend three-a.m. phone call out of the blue. I was acting weird lately, she said. What was up? It must've been the stupor of being woken up, but I blurted out that I was in love with her.

I don't remember the rest of the conversation. I do remember waking up the next morning desperately hoping it had all been a (bad) dream. It wasn't. It also didn't help that she never really addressed that wee-hours conversation, all the while dating a string of idiots that I knew all about. So there began a two-year period of psychological pain, which was exacerbated by her moving to California. I did end up visiting her a couple of times, platonically. But the unrequited crush remained just that. Over time, the sting began to wear off, and I did eventually become aware of other girls.

We remain very close friends to this day, despite a time zone and hundreds of miles between us. She's married and lives in Connecticut now. During a recent phone conversation, she revealed to me that if I'd just made a move on her, she likely would've never left Texas and that we probably would have ended up together and eventually married. I wasn't even angry at that revelation. I still love her too much to be mad at her. We'll never be together, but we'll never be apart.

Ben

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Andrew and I grew up together. He was my middle-school crush, but it wasn't until college that we became close, as he was quite a bit older than me. We hung out every single day the summer of 2004; we were absolutely inseparable. Every night after work, he'd call me and we would make plans. He was a sharp dresser, and he'd always want to know what I was wearing so we wouldn't clash. He was also very protective, and he didn't think much of my favorite miniskirt.

We went dancing most nights, and then we'd watch a movie at his apartment before I went home. One night he made me watch Spy Kids 2, complete with the 3-D glasses, because he said I was too drunk to leave. He was always taking care of me.

One night he made me watch Spy Kids 2, complete with the 3-D glasses, because he said I was too drunk to leave.

Andrew was born with a serious heart problem. I think he coped with it largely through his art. In his last show, his artist's statement said in part, "My torso is riddled with marks, covered with markings that trace violations of the body with a surgeon's knife. These scars mark my identity." He gave me his "Cardiopalooza" t-shirt, with heart surgery dates instead of tour dates filling the entire back. I did notice that by August, his pace had slowed down, and he was having trouble walking more than a block at the time. I would ask him about it, but he always brushed me off.

One week in late September, he gave me his diary. I thought that was weird. I'd never give anyone my diary. I stayed up all night reading; it was full of musings on mortality, mixed with stories about hospital indignities and hints of a young man coming to terms with the fact that he probably wouldn't reach middle age. I knew he was trying to tell me something that he wasn't able to say to me out loud.

That Thursday we went dancing, and it was different. We were sweaty and intense and our bodies moved in synchronicity in a way that felt new and wonderful. We stayed out until the bars closed, and then went back to my house, where my roommates were making pancakes. We sat on the kitchen couch, too close together. I felt strange that night. I was his equal, instead of a little girl he looked after.

As my hand rested on the torn vinyl cushion, I suddenly felt his fingers touching mine. Whatever it meant to him, the electricity of that moment was stronger than any of the intimate naked moments I had spent with past lovers. I would like to say we shared a significant look that night before he hugged me goodbye, but maybe that's just my wishful thinking. I suppose it really doesn't matter now. There was a pause before he turned toward his car, our eyes met and for me, at least, time stopped right there for a little while.

The next night I went to Pittsburgh to see Lucero play, and after the show, someone called and said that Andrew had died. His parents beat me to his apartment and threw out a bunch of his stuff. I ended up going through his dumpster in the alley behind his apartment to pull out beautiful photographs, Rumbleseat seven inches, and t-shirts that still smelled like him. It's hard now, because that stupid apartment was on the same street I live on today; I walk by it on the way to the coffeeshop.

— Bex

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Soccer season started in the fall of freshman year, and I had a crush on every older girl on the team. (I assure you this is not uncommon for female sports teams.) I became especially close with one particular girl who was dating a football player. My crush on her had ended with the word "boyfriend," and I had let my fascination go. By second semester, we were freely using the term "best friend." I made sure I saw her as many times as I could throughout the day.

By March, that crush I'd thought was gone was back in full force. Our communications started taking a new life. We were texting between all classes, and most importantly, before bed. Over spring break, there was no shortage of late-night drunk texting. But it was all innocent, updates on funny events throughout the day. There was no way in hell I was going to bridge that gap first. I was just hoping and praying she felt the same way.

As the frequency of our texts grew, so did the frequency of her complaints about her boyfriend. It was definitely a guilty pleasure hearing about how she wanted to end it with him. I felt like I was behind enemy lines. I tried to give unbiased advice, I really did, but the excitement I felt when she sounded like she was about to end it made me realized there was nothing unbiased about it.

As the frequency of our texts grew, so did the frequency of her complaints about her boyfriend.

One night, the Saturday before finals week, she was at her boyfriend's frat formal, and I was dodging a boy who had recently confessed his love to me after a one-night stand. She and I were texting incessantly as usual. One thing led to another, and I was playing beer pong with the boy against her and her boyfriend. This boy made a point of making out with me in between every shot, and I glanced nervously at her every chance I got.

As soon as the game was over I yelled across the table, "Will you come pee with me?" We traveled up the stairs together and entered the disgusting fraternity bathroom. After peeing and washing hands we both stood and faced each other. All I can remember of this verbal exchange is me staring at the floor and mumbling something like "I can't… I don't know… what about you?" and then she said, "Well, I'm not just experimenting in college." And with those words, I took a giant step toward her, grabbed her face, and went for it.

In no time at all she had me against the wall, hands on my ass. It was all I could do to not grin while we were making out. "This is it," I thought. One month later, after school had ended for summer, we were dating. Two weeks later we were saying, "I love you." Six months later she was leaving for New Zealand for the semester. And three months later we were breaking up. In a little over a year I had gained a best friend, gained a girlfriend, lost a girlfriend, and lost a best friend. 

— Erika

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We met in second grade, Bonnie and me. By high school we were best friends, spending lots of time together hiking, volunteering for causes, supporting each other's sports and artistic interests. In senior year of high school, boyfriendless and girlfriendless, we tried dating, but when it came time to kiss, we both went, "Ew."

We separated to distant colleges. We wrote occasionally and saw each other over winter break, usually as part of someone else's party. Then, during our junior year, Bonnie's parents went through a brutal divorce, and I sold a novel. I bought a brand new car with my novel money, a VW Beetle. About a week into summer, I ran into Bonnie at a casual get-together. She worked at a bookstore, she told me, and lived in a big old house near downtown, a kind of a commune.

We stopped at a motel, and the only room available had only one bed.

She had some time off from her job, and asked me to drive her in my new car to her mother's new home in the Florida panhandle, about nine hours away. We left after she got off work at nine, intending to drive all night. It didn't work. By one, we were both too sleepy to drive. We stopped at a motel, and the only room available had only one bed.

Over the years, we'd reached the point in our relationship where we didn't feel compelled to talk. It wasn't unusual for us to spend hours in each other's company without saying a word. Bonnie went into the bathroom and returned in her underwear. I felt uncomfortable. She removed her bra and slipped off her panties before sliding under the covers. I felt terribly excited and terribly uncertain. Bonnie closed her eyes and fell asleep. I dozed fitfully. In a couple of hours, she awoke and asked if I was ready to keep driving.

I said I needed a shower. The cool water did nothing to ease my tension. Then, Bonnie joined me. Wordlessly, she stroked my penis. She brought me to orgasm, then I brought her to orgasm much easier than I had ever done with any other woman. We made love three more times before we finally got back on the road.

Her mother allowed us to share a bed in her double-wide trailer, just a quarter mile from the white sands of a Gulf of Mexico beach. We screwed like honeymooners. Going back home, we stopped at the same motel and asked for the same room and spent the night getting each other off and mostly not saying much.

We burned too hot and bright, Bonnie and me. A little more than a month later, we drifted back toward friendship. That was more than thirty years ago. We're still friends, we still talk occasionally, and we still write. Bonnie met and married a civil engineer, and they divorced twelve or so years ago. I married a woman who paints, and we're still together. But sometimes I think of Bonnie and me, naked in that cheap motel room.

Byron

Submit to our next round-up: Getting Back Together With My Ex. Have you ever sworn you'd never get back together with someone, and then, well, did? How'd it happen, and how long did it last? Send us all the specifics in 300-500 words to submissions@nerve.com or click for more details.