Many stories begin with the words “it all began when…” Many stories are unrealistic by their nature, but that line is one of the worst ones to begin a story with. Nothing begins at a certain moment. Very rarely can we see the point in time when a transition begins, when a story starts in our lives. Looking back, we can never pinpoint the moment the tides changed in our favor or the exact time we fell in love or the precise instant when we changed.
No, most often, we realize as we look back that something has been changing or happening for quite a while.
So it is for me. I don’t know when I realized I was in love with Max, nor do I remember when exactly I fell in love with him in the first place. I remember when we met, I remember how we got to know each other and I remember being more and more drawn to him. Then, somehow, sometime, I realized I was in love with him.
“Mon’,” he’d say. “Why are you looking at me like that?” He was so clueless. He never understood the looks I gave him, the looks with which I was trying to fathom if in his gaze was an emotion anything like mine.
It was never a subject between us – the emotions we felt for each other. right from the beginning of our friendship we acted as if nothing could or would ever happen between us. We confided all and beyond in each other, told each other the absolute raw truths about our opinions and feelings for others and we quickly knew each other better than anyone else knew us.
But I loved him. Somehow, hearing about his liaisons with other women, about his love and respect for his father and his opinions on how children should be raised – it all made me love him. He, the person he was, made me love him.
He never got to know it, though. I never worked up the nerve to break that unspoken rule of pure friendship between us, and then he decided one day to explore more of the world. The last time I heard from him he was going to take vows of silence and join a monastery so he could understand the practice of religion in such places and write an essay about it.
So while I can’t say when it all began with Max, I can definitely say that it all ended when he hugged me goodbye, kissed my forehead and smiled at me at the airport. It’s sad, though, how easy it is to pack years of equal friendship and one sided love into a few short and simple sentences. You’d think it wouldn’t be possible to fit a world of emotion into the short statement: I loved Max, and he was my best friend until one day he left. But you can.