The friend request showed up while I was at lunch with a girl from work. I frowned at my phone, the name familiar in a way that causes the cobwebs in the far reaches of my brain to tremble. I set the phone down to focus on my friend. But the chime of a message interrupted.
“I don’t know if you remember me,” I read, “but we graduated together. I’ve been searching for you for a long time.”
It all came back in a rush.
I was only there for one semester. And he and I never dated. Never kissed. In fact, he only touched me once. At graduation he took my face in hands and bent down so his face was inches from mine and said, “Marian, I want you to know that I think you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. And you are so special. Don’t ever forget that.”
I was speechless. Looking up at him as he cradled my face in his hands with crowds of people around, I think I just nodded. That was the last time I saw him, the last time we spoke.
“Marian, are you okay?” my friend asked, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
“Sorry,” I laugh, shaking off the shock, “Just was confused for a second. You were saying…”
And so lunch continued. Once I was alone in my office again I reread the message. And with the touch of my fingertip, I accepted his friend request. He looked the same. The eyes still twinkled with laughter. The smile still crooked up at the left corner. But there were differences too. He had filled out in the past decade and a half. The lanky teenager had blossomed into a handsome, muscular man.
It was time to answer his message.
“Hi!” I pecked, “Of course I remember you!”
The reply was instantaneous, “I have to say, I’ve looked for you for 16 years.”
“You’re kidding!” I tried to process this. Sixteen years. Wow. I continued, “I have never forgotten you and your amazing smile.”
“Awe thanks,” he said, “And no, I’m not kidding. But wow. You have definitely grown up since I saw you last.”
He obviously hadn’t wasted any time scrolling through my photos either.
“I’m gonna be honest,” he continued, “I didn’t know what to expect. But wow. You are gorgeous!!! Where have you been hiding? And obliviously I’ve never forgotten about you either!”
“Thank you,” I wasn’t sure how to respond to his compliments so I focused on what I could answer. I told him where I was living and doing and that I’d not been hiding at all.
“Well, I’m glad I found you now,” he said, “It’s been years searching off and on. Although I never told anyone I was.”
“You’re making me smile.”
“I’ve never stopped thinking about you and have always wondered what happened to you,” he said, “I remember everything about you and how bad I wanted to date you and couldn’t.”
“Why couldn’t you?” I asked. I had wanted him to ask me out…
“At that time if I remember correctly your family wouldn’t let you go out with me. I guess that’s why I never stopped looking for you.”
“I looked for you too you know,” I admitted.
“Yes,” I said, “But I couldn’t ever remember how to spell your last name. And then I forgot it. How did you find me?”
“I finally found my old yearbook,” he said, “And searched all over the net trying to find you. For a long, long time. It took my breath away when I found you.”
“God it’s so good to hear from you!” I could feel the giddiness rising in my chest.
“I feel like a kid again back in school,” he said, “I was actually shaking.”
“Funny how that works,” I said, knowing what he was feeling, “I had no idea you had a crush on me. I wish I had known. I would have at least kissed you.
“Yes I did and it’s weird because a lot of those silly feelings exploded today when I found you. I swear I’m not trying to be cheesy.”
The messages flew back and forth. He caught me up on his life, where he had been, why he had left the little town where we went to high school and so much more. I told him about many things, including my relationship with Nathan.
“Man, I’m never going live down letting you slip away.”
“Mmm. You should have kissed me.”
“I sure should have,” he agreed, “I’m truly sorry I wasn’t grown up enough to realize…”
“None of us were.”
“If your man ever messes up I’ll scoop you up in a heart beat.”
At that I sent a chuckle and changed the subject. I’m finally in a place where I feel content with one man. I don’t need this temptation. Yet here it was. Hitting me over and over and over again.
“You are absolutely amazing you know that?” he said sometime later.
“You’re just giddy,” I deflected, “I’m not all that.”
“No. I’m not giddy,” he said, “I can see what’s in front of me. I’ve learned a few things over the years. Thank god.”
“Time is a good thing,” I said, “We either grow into our skin or we don’t. Seems like you and I have.”
“I definitely agree with that. I just wish I could’ve grown up with you.”
“It would be very different for both of us if that had been the case,” I said.
“Yes, I believe you’re right,” he replied, “But if ANYTHING ever happens, I’ll drive all night if I have to just to get that kiss now. Just remember that.”
So, as things in my life seemed to be calm and placid, one little friend request has disturbed the waters. Yes. My heart is racing from the communication. Yes. I know I need to simmer down and focus on Nathan. But DAYUM. He’s been looking for me for sixteen years! Who does that?!