to be (un)forgotten
I think part of you wanted to be forgotten.
Not completely, not forever, but there was something about the way that you held yourself: like you could disappear instead of being present. Like you would prefer no one see you at all.
And not in a shy way. You were never shy. In a way that meant you didn't give a damn. About class, about teachers, about what was 'in' and what wasn't.
It surprised me when I heard you were so good at debating. At first. But you're good at arguing, which is why we got along. Because I'm not.
You always had your head bent over your notebook, entirely and completely absorbed. The world didn't exist, and for that I was jealous. That you could block it all out.
My favorite part, often my absolute favorite part of my entire day, was to tell you something cheery. In a class that would've otherwise been unbearable, wasn't it beautiful to share some sarcastic joy with you?
And you would scoff and groan and complain, and I knew you hated that class, and you pretended to hate me too sometimes, but that only made me like you more. Your pessimism only made me more optimistic, because it was endlessly amusing to annoy you.
But I knew you liked it.
One time Mrs. A caught you eating in class, right there in the seat next to me. And I laughed at you, behind her back, while I continued eating goldfish out of my pencil pouch. You pretended to be angry, of course. But it was hilarious, we have to admit, that I could never get in trouble and you always could.
Sometimes being around you hurt, which isn't surprising, from the way we talked to each other. In jousts and opposites and barbed wire. You called me Rudolph, once, when I had a pimple on my nose. And then I was self-conscious about it the rest of the day.
Sometimes being around you hurt for other reasons, silly things that seemed more important back then. You know your old best friend, the one that became mine, wanted to go to prom with you? But you didn't take her, and you didn't take me either.
Did you know I sometimes almost forget all this? It was all so long ago. But the memory of your face, and your teasing, and your laugh: those remain. Forever, most likely.
I'm not sure I'd have thought of you again, for quite some time, if I hadn't stumbled across an old note of mine. It was meaningless, on one hand, and on the other, I remembered again why I miss you.
A memory, simple, of the two of us pretending to pray, kneeling next to each other in that suffocating little chapel. We must've been handed rosaries to pray, because Lord knows neither of us would've willingly decided to pray one. Or pray at all.
"I dropped Jesus," you'd whispered. The plastic crucifix-Jesus stared up at us from the floor, and the beads in your hands ended with a loose thread. And I know I had laughed, and you had too, as silently as we could so we didn't get in trouble. And what a welcome relief. In a place like that.
There are words that I never said, and some that I'm glad I didn't. Maybe parts of you wanted to be forgotten, but parts of me did too. We didn't know then, but I think that's what made us fit.