So there I was leaning back, looking at her as she said “good keeps us from great.” There's a lot of wisdom in that and considering that the person saying it is 24ish that's pretty bad ass. I knew precisely what she was saying and we'd come to the conclusion we each knew we'd come to… To understand that, I have to do my time machine spirit-fingers and make a ridiculous sound with my mouth so we can go back a few weeks in time.
There we were, at the Thirsty Crow, I was enjoying ‘Old Fashioneds' and Ana was having something else that was less offending. We were both feeling good, as we sat close to one another, any closer we might become conjoined at the face. That's not to say we were going to kiss, merely, I would have tried. It took all of the restraint my no good-36-year-old mind could muster to not do it. Conversation was as easy as it always had been, but this time was different. How? This meeting of friends turned into something more of a date. The notion itself was unspoken, but make no mistake this was no friendly meetup. Sure, I've felt lonely… But there was something more than that.
I've always taken special notice of Ana, even when she was still a teen (which sounds creepy as fuck to say) but she was quirky and smart and quick-witted. This is a combo that wins me every day of the week that ends in ‘y.' Our discourse was always quick; I felt I had to pant to keep up. So she always had a special spot in my mind. But she was always “just that kid.”
It wasn't until sometime later that I had gone with a friend to go dancing that I felt differently By this point, I believe Ana may have been 19. It was a salsa dancing event. I suck at dancing by the way. Don't get me wrong, I have fun, but I'm seriously inept. But I labored through, laughing (mostly crying) the whole way. I was having fun. Then the floor opened up at the end of the lessons for everyone to get their ‘dance-on.' This is when the people who know what the fuck is going on do what they came to do. Dance! Ana stepped out onto the floor and it was immediately apparent this kid was a woman. She danced and moved with fluidity; with such confidence and grace. It's a memory that's been burned into my brain… It seems silly to say as I write this, but that's when I thought differently of her. That's when I noticed the woman before me and not the bumbling, dorky, sometimes awkward, kid.
I later revealed these things to Ana. I told her that I didn't think of her in a purely “friendly” way. That was true. I didn't see her that way. I knew what her values were; what mine were. The same important things she wanted were not the things I could give, because I did not want them. Do you see a recurring theme here?
So why even say anything at all? Why ruin a good friendship potentially? Well, that's tough. I've come to the realization that feelings left unspoken can be detrimental to a friendship. Sure, blurting what you feel is, ultimately, a selfish act, but something more can grow from it, I think.
We spent a little more time together, talked some more and I found that even thought there's a decade-wide age gap, we could still relate; we could still talk to one another and have deep conversations. Not that I doubted it, but I'd be lying if I'd said I wasn't surprised. I had become very much at ease with Ana. Possibilities ran through my head, but I knew better. I knew that this wasn't going to “happen” for us.
So there we were, laying down, ‘great keeps us from good.” Ana whispers, “So, this isn't going to happen, is it?” No, no dear it isn't. I was disappointed, not because I didn't know what the outcome would be, but because, well, this awesome person wasn't meant for me; my awesome person is still out there… Somewhere. As good as I may be in certain areas, it wasn't “good enough” for Ana. That is, she knew what she wanted, I know what I want. It wasn't to be. We're good, but not great for one another. That's all there is to it.
In all, do I regret speaking up? No. I'm glad that I did. I think there's a stronger bond that's been formed. Yeah, yeah. I know. It's still the “friend zone.” But the friend zone is where a dude ends up who never stepped up to the plate; who never tried; who never had the beans to speak up.
I'll not wonder “what if.” That, my peeps, is a powerful notion.