Looking Back On Unrequited High School Love


You always liked to play the hero. It didn’t matter the kind of stakes. I’ll never know if it was just for show, just for me, or how you acted when I wasn’t around. I had wondered for a long time, whether you liked me. I remember when we first met, and you looked at me with such intensity. My friend joked that it was either an “I hate you” or “you’re hot” type of stare. I didn’t know you well enough for you to hate me.

You told me about using your jacket to stop the bleeding, when one of our classmates hit his head. Then you called me your hero when you said you were cold, and I offered you mine. You danced in the aisle on the bus ride home, flaunting my girly jacket with the fur trim, to Aretha Franklin’s Respect. I helped you carry some equipment inside, when we got back to the school. You pretended to be mad at me when I hit your drum kit on the stairwell, but you couldn’t contain the smile.

When there was nowhere to sit during one of our final Drama classes, I perched on your knees, dangling off the edge of the couch. We sat there, just like that, perfectly still. You made sure to tell me, when it was over, how difficult it had been to balance me upright the entire time. You wanted me to know how strong you were, even though you were only half serious.

Sometimes I’d borrow your clothes, or your punk bullet belt. It made me feel cool, and everyone knew it was yours. But I was the only one allowed to wear it. In the evenings, we’d all hang out in Kensington – and I always wore your grey hoodie. It was frayed at the cuffs, coming apart from overuse. It wasn’t all that warm, but it smelled like you.

I remember the time I lost my phone – you weren’t even there. But when you found out later that night, you drove all the way across town to make sure I found it. My friend and I had been drinking, walking through the field behind her house, and it fell out into the snow. I’m not even sure how you found out, neither of us told you. But you came to the house and took me outside to look for it, dragging my drunken dead weight all around the field. You wouldn’t even let me sit down in the snow – I’d fallen and decided to sit, in the snow, my body warmed with alcohol. You didn’t want me to get hypothermia, I’m sure, so you picked me up again. We did find my phone eventually.

Once, when we’d been hanging out at night, we parted ways to take the train home from downtown. It was dark, and could sometimes be sketchy, but I wasn’t afraid. Until I started being harassed by some creepy strangers. And then, like magic, there you were. You and our friend appeared on the sidewalk, rushing briskly towards me. I was so relieved. You said once you’d left me, you thought “what have we done?!” and came running from the other stop to take me home with you. The three of us all slept in the same room that night. I can’t remember ever feeling so safe.

We spent a lot of time together. And I have a million stories like these. But they are just memories now. Nothing ever happened. When I found out you liked me, you were shocked to find out that I liked you, too. But we never even kissed. I wonder if you are just the same today. Are you still playing the hero? I will probably never know. And I have someone else’s grey hoodie to wear now.