Falling in love with your best friend can be both wonderful and complicated. It’s difficult to be casual when you’re already so close, and if it doesn’t work out, you risk losing your friendship. We already knew each other so well; he was already close with my family and I with his. We even lived together for a year, long before we were anything but friends. Though everyone assumes we loved each other romantically from the start, it really couldn’t be further from the truth. He was my friend and I didn’t look at him as anything but that for several years. We saw each other through other relationships and dates and ugly crying breakups. In the beginning, there was nothing there beyond platonic love. But at some point, something shifted. It felt very sudden and overwhelming, and we would quash the subject just as soon as it was broached.
When I moved to New York, Bobby wrote a letter to me (remember those?) that said he was in love with me. I found and read it when I was unpacking the rest of my things, after my sisters drove away. I was admittedly slightly angry: that flushed cheeks, every inch of my face swelling with tears, I might drown if I start weeping kind of angry. The sad kind of angry, the homesick kind of angry, the “why did you do this now?” kind of angry. I only knew two people when I moved here — and one of them was a friend I met on the internet — and here was my best friend making me feel a whole new level of homesick and so confused. Moving here was one of the craziest things I ever did and completely out of character for someone like me who didn’t ever take risks. As a homebody with major social anxiety, it was a miracle that I went away to Orlando for college — less than 4 hours north! — let alone Brooklyn, away from everyone I loved.
I was so heartbroken and lonely the moment my sisters left, but I promised I would challenge myself and stay in New York for at least a year. It was a struggle to settle in at my new home from day one, and here was someone at my old home who was pulling me back. I should mention that Bobby wrote that letter to me with no intention of asking me to move back; he waited to give me the letter because he didn’t want me to stay. But even still, it would’ve been so easy to give in and go home to my soulmate, call it fate and say New York was never meant to be. Every limb was reaching for home, for someone to hold onto — and I couldn’t tell if it was love or loneliness that made me feel that way. I needed time to think.
Since that was almost eleven years ago, I can’t remember when or how we talked about it. I can’t remember when I realized I had those same feelings, too. All I do remember is resisting every step of the way — not because I didn’t return the feelings, but because it all felt too complicated. I would be all in and then immediately pull back. I was worried we wouldn’t work out and I would lose my best friend. I was worried we would work out and I would never be single again. I know that sounds crazy, but I was really enjoying being single and I had never really gotten to just date. I wondered what that would feel like. I didn’t feel ready to settle down with no end in sight. I knew I had feelings for him, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them. Whatever shifted on Bobby’s end took a little longer to hit me. I think back to that time and remember my grandpa always saying to Bobby, “Be patient. She’ll come around.” I never even told him that Bobby had feelings for me, but everyone knew and was rooting for him.
Six months after I moved to New York, Bobby followed me there. We kept on as friends for awhile, but it quickly progressed into a full blown relationship. It’s fairly impossible to casually date your best friend who lives with you, but I still went through this weird phase where I didn’t want to commit, even though I wasn’t dating or planning on dating anyone else. He was patient until I eventually I got over whatever imaginary roadblocks I had in my head.
We’ve never celebrated anniversaries because we don’t know the day we became official. We’ll have one when we get married, I guess. All I really remember from that day is talking to my mom on the phone, telling her how we were going to give it a shot. She said, “Time to sh** or get off the pot, huh?”
And that’s how our love story truly began: a toilet analogy from my eloquent mama. Bet you didn’t think my story would end that way, did you?