I sat in her passenger seat as we headed north on Sepulveda. She had braved Monday morning rush hour to pick me up at LAX, and now we were looking for a brunch spot. I had waited days to have the conversation that neither of us were ready to have. Surely, I could wait a little while longer.
Days earlier, she had texted me as I approached a leather factory during my trip to Turkey. I couldn’t help but notice it was 3:15 a.m. PDT. This wasn’t the first time she had asked me for dating advice, but it was the first time she admitted interest in the other party. “Do you want to date him?” I asked. “I’d love to,” she responded. A familiar sinking feeling crept in. “Does he want to date you?” I asked, already aware that he must. “I guess so, we’re always hanging out,” she replied.
“I don’t think I should be giving you dating advice,” I texted back. “You know how I feel about you, but I want what’s best for you, so do what you gotta do.”
She didn’t want to believe it or hear it, and she certainly didn’t want to talk about it. After sending a perplexing “Ugh,” she stopped responding.
The next evening I texted “So that’s it, huh?” She apologized but said there was nothing further to discuss. Instead, we made plans for her to pick me up from the airport.
We decided on Blue Daisy Cafe for brunch. The close-set tables meant I couldn’t broach the subject. She ate off my plate and we playfully argued over the check — our usual shtick. The ladies at the next table laughed at us. When we left, I fought with myself on what to say. Finally, as we drove on I-10, I spoke up. “You know that conversation you didn’t want to have? Let’s have it,” I said somewhere near Crenshaw. Silence ensued before I mustered, “I think you should date me.”
She made a joke about marriage, children, and what her mother would say.
I told her she wouldn’t have to worry about those things because I didn’t want any of them. Laughter, then more silence. As we drove onto I-5, I asked, “Why won’t you date me?”
“Because I don’t date girls,” she said, not skipping a beat. “I’m willing to overlook that,” I said, humor on my side.
I had heard that time slows down when you get your heart broken, but that wasn’t the case for me. It seemed to speed up, and I knew that in some short miles, I’d be home and she’d leave and everything would have to change. We had been friends for almost two years. It took me less than half that time to begin falling for her. She was the most adorable person I’d ever met. How could I not catch feelings?
We’d flirted, bantered, enjoyed deep conversations and bonded. It wasn’t always easy but there was a shared connection that we both wanted and nurtured. This was the woman I could effortlessly wax philosophical with and then switch gears into vulgarity without batting an eye. We texted at all hours, often falling asleep and picking the conversation up in the morning. We had “Good morning” and “Good night” texts. We had “I love you” texts. Our phone calls lasted hours, and we’d been known to close down restaurants.
Another friend and I jokingly referred to my dynamic with her as “all the lover talk but none of the lover action.” I had never wanted anything serious with anyone else, but I could see myself committing to her.
I was the poster child for the emotionally unavailable woman, always running from feelings and intimate situations. But it was different with her.
“Are you capable of deep love?” she had asked early on in our friendship, over dinner at Le Petit Paris. “No,” I’d said with a resounding coldness.
But all of that had changed, because of her. Over time, I dispensed with my pride and ego. She softened my heart and I fell in love in the process.
But the point that my friends kept driving home is that this was merely a case of unrequited love.
I was just a woman with a crush on a straight woman. Certainly, it had to be more than that, but for my sanity, I’d have to believe that it wasn’t.
After we reached my house, I asked her in. And I asked what I should do about us.
“I can’t answer that. I can’t tell you what to do,” she’d said. I knew the lover talk would have to end. No more “I miss you” after just a day of not seeing each other. No more discussing our respective futures as though we could have one together. Could we remain friends? What would that look like?
We sat mostly in silence and then went for a walk around the block before she left. I didn’t want her to go, but I couldn’t make her stay.
The author is a writer in Los Angeles. She is on Instagram @goldede.