(Dustin made a habit out of sneaking "Say Goodnight and Go" into any given car's stereo, even from the back seat. He would then look at me with a glint in his eye and a suppressed smile until I would figure out what was going on and have a mini freak out. This was especially the case if Eddie was in the car with us as well.)
The journey into crazy-land had begun but I was happy and unaware. Well, mostly happy. Except for the nagging feeling that if I had a serious and ever growing crush on my friend, I should probably tell him.
Of course I had a hopefulness in the pit of my stomach that it might be reciprocated. A girl can dream. But the thing that really ate at me was how unfair it seemed to have a thing for a friend and just carry on like normal. I knew I was acting funny and I felt he, as my friend, had a right to know why.
I was nervous he didn't dig me back, and I was not looking forward to doing the work of getting back friendship normalcy if that was the case, but my expectations were colored by my past.
That is to say that every crush I had ever had, had been on friends. I didn't "date", exactly. I never knew how. I also didn't understand (and still don't for that matter) how people skipped friendship altogether and went straight from being strangers to being interested in each other. To put it bluntly, I didn't (and don't) have "wiles".
But the first boy I had a crush on chose to ignore it to spare us the awkwardness, and eventually it just went away and we were solid again. The next boy I had a crush on was precious and actually went so far as to say that if I was feeling sad that my feelings for him were not reciprocated, I could feel free to call him and we could talk about it. Which, we did. And my feelings for him dissolved into friendship and sibling-hood. He remained one of my dearest friends.
When boys had crushes on me and I didn't feel the same way towards them, I told them I didn't and would never have plans for dating them, but that our friendship wouldn't change. We would press through until it was normal again. And we always did.
So honestly, I was more concerned with how I was going to suck it up and tell him and work through it before I went to study abroad in Australia in the following semester then anything.
I remember my first attempt at embarrassing crush-laden honesty. If you could call it an attempt. I went over to Eddie's room with intentions of spilling it, but I was waiting for some mysterious "right moment" (hoping for some kind of lead in so it wouldn't seem quite so out of nowhere). Finally, Eddie needed a bathroom break, so he ever so thoughtfully directed me to his AIM buddy window, which was open, and suggested that I find a mutual friend to chat with momentarily in his absence.
Dustin was online. The conversation went something like this:
Eddie'sScreenname: Hey duseroo! It's Sarah. Eddie stepped out for a sec. How's it goin'?
Dustin'sScreename: Hey! Did you tell him yet?
Eddie'sScreenname: What! No! Dus, we can't talk about that on here, I'm
Eddie'sScreenname: He could come back any minute!
Dustin'sScreename: You have to tell him, just say it like we practiced!
Eddie'sScreenname: "I like you....nicorns???"
Dustin'sScreename: "I like you....nicycles!!!"
Eddie'sScreenname: "I like you....nibrows!!!"
Dustin'sScreename: "I like you....phemisms!"
Eddie'sScreenname: Hahahaha ok ok, let's talk about something else! We gotta get this conversation off the screen STAT! Quick! Before he comes back!
We successfully talked a bit more about trivial things expressly to hide that conversation, so when Eddie came back, and my phone rang, I hopped off his computer without a second thought to answer my call.
It was Dustin. "Seriously, you can do it! I believe in you! Tell him, tell him!", said he. I was grateful for the encouragement, but I wasn't sure how to field that phone call now that Eddie was back in the room. I anxiously fidgeted with Eddie's skate board. I stood on Eddie's skateboard. I wheeled myself forward a foot or so, staring intently at the floor and trying to use vague terms with Dustin, hoping he knew what I was saying in stilted, awkward code.
I finally took my eyes off the floor only to find Eddie was curiously scrolling up in the message box conversation. I panicked, shouted "NO!", hung up on Dustin, and fell off the skateboard. It wasn't a graceful fall, but it was well aimed (kind of). Mid-fall, I managed to reach over Eddie's shoulder and click the X on the message box. Whew. That conversation was deleted forever.
Eddie looked shocked and confused. The skateboard was hanging arbitrarily off the top bunk with it's wheels spinning furiously, and I sat on the floor where I had fallen laughing and blushing and making haphazard excuses for my bizarre behavior.
That was the first of many attempts that ended similarly. In an effort to make me feel better Dustin started drawing cartoons of me and Eddie in my journal.
One was of me with squiggly arms screaming "I AM ZA LIKING YOU!!!", Eddie saying, "Schwat?", me being blindsided by a giant fish yelling "FISHED!" and then me saying "shnothing.".
Finally the last day of the semester was upon me and there was nothing for it but to pack up and go home. So that's what I did. I said goodbye to Eddie, who was distant and a little weird. And I went home.
I got a miserable job at a factory that made boat motors to save up for Australia and contemplated my options in the millions of hours I spent alone in my station.
One day Eddie called and left a message on my phone. It was a really sweet message, about how he wanted me to know how amazing I was and how much I would be missed in the following semester. Also, he was going out to eat with his mom. Or something.
I heard that message out and in an impulsive burst of energy, I called and left him a message. I told him that if he wanted to call me later, there was something I really needed to tell him.
Later that night he called me back and asked what was up. I told him I really wanted to tell him, but my tricky gumption just wasn't around when I wanted it to be. "Silly gumption", he noted, "It's like trying to nail jello to a wall." It was like that. So I confessed that I wasn't ready to tell him yet and asked if he could please call me back in an hour. He said that would be fine.
I went outside in my front yard and sat down in the grass under my stars. I watched the fireflies winking and took a deep breath of night air. I might have been a weenie, but I was going to get this out once and for all.
(Here, except at nightfall.)
The phone rang and I answered. "Hi". Silence. "Um... so... I .. uh... Ilikeyou." More silence. "Huh."
That was all he had to say. Just, Huh.
We fumbled through the rest of the conversation, "So I just thought I should tell...", "No, yeah... um .. it's..", "And I'm going to Australia in a few weeks...", "Hey, that'll be fun!", "Yes. Yes it will be.", "OK well, I'd better be going...", "OK, um... bye", "Bye."
Well, OK, I thought. At least the telling-him is out of the way.
And I tossed my phone aside, collapsed in the grass, and rested in God's arms.