At first I thought to myself that if she really was Joseph's girlfriend, and she felt concerned about/threatened by me, then she should have probably talked to Joseph and resolved it between them. I also figured that if a talk had transpired, I might have known about it because then Joseph would dutifully have come and told me that we should not do things like, oh, hang out for 11 hours at a time.
Then I thought that perhaps if she felt insecure about their relationship in the first place, it was maybe less likely that she could work up the gumption to talk to Joseph about her concerns.
If anyone knew about that finicky gumption, it was me.
Well, then, why hadn't she at least just spoken directly to me?
Yet, I could hardly hold that against her. It wasn't like I had ever directly asked her (or Joseph for that matter) if she was dating him or not. Instead, I had spent months and months intentionally walking around with my 88% certainty and avoiding the question at all costs.
And forgetting to return her shoes.
Anyway, I couldn't really blame her for going all Mean Girls on me. If I had someone like Joseph and thought I was losing him, I might have gone a little crazy too, right? My high school style note to Eddie wasn't exactly the picture of maturity.
I didn't know what she was so worried about, though. My track record with guys was always the same. We would be friends, then better friends, then I would fall for them and all signs would point to a possibility that he liked me too. Mutual friends would say things like, "Well, if there was a girl around besides you who did like him, she would sure be jealous of the attention he's paying you!". I would eventually spill it to him, and then get rejected every time. I had no frame of reference that said Joseph's actions were more than that of a friend.
Except maybe the hand holding action.
But hand holding action or not, Joseph was away at a hippie festival called LEAF with Azalea. They were sleeping in tents with their friends and doing hippie type things. Music, dancing, and art.
A few days later, I was in the Hanwell's kitchen, putting something away in the pantry, when I turned around and found myself in front of Joseph again. He was grinning from ear to ear and had both hands behind his back.
"I got you something. Close your eyes and put out your hands."
Having been fooled by this request many times in my childhood, I half expected to open my eyes to a handful of dead salamander, but I trusted him enough to comply.
No dead salamander.
I held in my hands a pale yellow plush star with a sweet, sleepy face painted on.
"I know it's cheesy", he admitted, "but it's a tribute to your love for stars. I painted a face on him, see?"
I hugged the star and thanked him. He brought me something! Maybe he might like me too?
Thursday morning blindsided us, though. School took precedence over my jumbled love life. In History class, Joseph and I both were hit with the harsh reality that we had been shoving history to the wayside, and midterms were fast approaching.
We spent the weekend cramming as much information into our brains as we could, but by the evening before the midterm we were acutely aware that we needed some serious help. My BestfriendDavid, a history major, agreed to tutor us last minute.
The only problem was that BestfriendDavid was visiting his parents about 2 hours away, and it was already late o'clock. As you can see, this was a dilemma. The age old college kid conundrum between claiming a good night's sleep or forfeiting rest in favor of an attempt to absorb as much information as possible within the time frame allotted.
We chose ungodly amounts of toxic energy drinks and an unreasonably long car ride the night before a midterm exam.
By the time we got to BestfriendDavid's house, we were punch-drunk and slap happy. He couldn't get us to stop holding our sides and giggling until we cried at every little thing long enough to get a sentence in edgewise.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that one of the blessings of old friends is that you can afford to be stupid with them. I am so grateful that this is a truth.
BestfriendDavid finally just assigned us to read the first and last paragraph of each chapter of the book we spent the semester ignoring and went to the kitchen for some mac 'n' cheese.
When we had studied as much as we could study, Joseph fell asleep on the couch for a 30 minute power nap before our journey back to school. BestfriendDavid sat by me on the other couch and said, "This is the first guy you've ever brought back to me that I approve of. That means a lot, you know. "
"David... isn't he the only guy I've brought back to you? The first guy I liked was your best friend, remember? And then Miguel. You never met Miguel... did you? Or Eddie?"
Cracking an amused grin he rumpled my hair and said, "No... but... You know what I mean."
I thought maybe he meant that he didn't believe this one would leave me pining. I was blessed with a hopeless romantic friend who knew what it was to pine. A friend who saw me as a little sister (we fought about this frequently and finally settled that he was my "older but none the wiser brother") and wanted to see me have something work out.
Joseph and I thanked and hugged him and then went back to school to face the music. Somehow, the drive back was fine. The energy drinks did their job, and we traded off and took turns sleeping and driving.
When we got to school, however, it was go time. We hadn't a moment to lose on such frivolities as sleep, breakfast, or even a glance in the mirror. It appeared that the exam went well for Joseph. I, on the other hand, spent the essay portion of the exam comparing more than one of the founding fathers to frat guys, and then fighting sleep so hard that I finished my argument incoherently and diagonally across the page. I didn't even almost stay on the lines.
My professor woke me up after everyone had left and asked for my exam. Oddly, he didn't seem upset. He only wished me a happy Thanksgiving break and sent me on my way.
I walked back to my dorm praying that I hadn't failed, and face-planted into bed the very first second that it was within reach.