Into the woods

If ever you want to see a bunch of adults make complete fools of themselves, my parents are the ones you want to be around.  This past weekend I went to my family’s lake house, accompanied with a few friends.  We’ve gone out each year for as long as I can remember, and I feel like each year they up the ante with their adult high jinks.  Now, as an adult myself, the entertainment value of watching my parents and their friends completely plastered is priceless.


Among my friends that joined me is Chloe, one of my closest childhood friends.  She and I are the same age, and our mothers are close friends.  Her mom would bring Chloe over to our house when she’d come to visit my mother, with the hopes that she’d play with my sisters.  However, with my older/younger sister both being 3 years apart from me, Chloe didn’t find similar interests with them.  I remember, even now, Chloe looking like a porcelain doll.  She had this radiant blond hair, pale skin, and big blue eyes.  As you can imagine, that made her a popular target for my sisters.  They tried to play dress up with her, curl her hair, put makeup on her, etc.


Chloe, however, never took interest in my sisters, and used to play with me instead when she visited my house.  Whether it was Legos, toy cars, or video games, Chloe would seek shelter from my sisters with me.  We used to go out in the woods nearby my house to try to catch frogs, or fish in the pond, anything to get away. 


After I became blind, Chloe was one of the few people who treated me no different.  Whereas most of my friends no longer invited me out to play catch, or ride bikes, or whatever they were doing, Chloe failed to see my any differently.  I vividly recall her leading me through the woods a year or so after my accident, and urging me to climb a tree we’d climbed together so many times before.  I certainly wasn’t one to decline a challenge, so I climbed, with her helping me find place holds for my hands and feet.  The tree was massive, and as we neared the lowest branches (which we used to sit on and spend hours in) I slipped and fell, breaking my arm.  The two of us, being the geniuses we are, felt we could hide the incident from our parents, which as you can imagine didn’t pan out.  We both got in serious trouble, and were limited to hanging out inside together, under supervision, after that.


As the two of us got older, our friendship progressed accordingly.  When our friends were bragging about kissing girls/boys for the first time, we turned to each other to find out what the hype was about.  I asked her out for the first time before our first middle school dance. While the two of us were thick as thieves as friends, we were a complete nightmare of a couple.  Chloe’s high maintenance, and requires near constant attention from a significant other.  I’m definitely not that kind of guy.  The two of us fought incessantly when we were together.  We’d come to us senses, break it off for a bit and resume being strictly friends, and things would get good again. Real good. Which for years was the vicious cycle that kept driving the two of us back together and apart again.


Sometime mid-high school the two of us broke it off for the last time.  We’d both gained just enough maturity and clarity needed to see we simply weren’t compatible and never would be. By this point in time, neither of us were virgins.  You had to be careful at our high school with the reputation you built for yourself.  We went to a midsize Christian school, where your business got around like wildfire.  And, more importantly, everyone’s parents were deeply involved in the school, so not only was your dirty laundry aired to all of your classmates, but it had a tendency to find its way to your family as well.


In light of that, the two of us made a friends with benefits pact together.  Never again would the two of us attempt to make the romantic part of our relationship function, but the physical aspect we agreed to keep intact. Cue a bunch of idiotic teenage decisions: meeting in the woods at night, going for long drives on winter nights and crawling in the back of her car together.  Thinking back to it, these were some of the dumbest, but most exhilarating decisions I’ve ever made.  And for the past six ish years our friendship has held steady in much the same way. 


This past weekend the two of us shared a tent together outside my parents cabin, as there was no hope of getting any rest inside with the way they and their friends were raging all night long.  Everything about Chloe is so comfortable to me.  The way her hand feels in mine, my ability to completely let my guard down around her, the ease with which we can make each other laugh, the way her body feels with mine.  To say I love her is such an understatement. I’m not in love with her, not quite, but god would I do anything for her. It’s absolutely intoxicating to be with her, like a force that takes over your body and mind altogether. 


But then there’s that sobering realization that what we have together is fleeting.  The two of us may have grown a lot throughout the years, but we’re still vastly different people, needing entirely different things to be happy.  And yet with my head buried in the crook of her neck this weekend, smelling her hair, whispering to each other and stifling our laughter so the other “campers” outside with us wouldn’t wake up, I so want to banish every ounce of logic and rationality that tells me the two of us are wrong for one another.  There’s a part of me that wants to force myself to be the man she wants, no matter how much it rubs me against my grain, just so that I can be with her. 

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