[continued from part three // start here]
Once Steve was single, it wasn't all that long before feelings for him
started to grow in my heart, out of nowhere. I refused to directly
acknowledge it in my journal for a while; I didn't want to "nurse a
crush," and I knew the timing was bad. I was supposed to be single,
remember?! I wished over and over that the confusing feelings would just
Steve's life wasn't exactly uncomplicated at
the time, either. As you can imagine, ending an 18-month relationship
was difficult and messy. His girlfriend didn't understand his sudden
decision, and they even got back together again at one point before
breaking up for good. The whole thing was especially awkward for me because
when their relationship had started, I was *her* friend, not
Steve's--but at the end, she was off at college and I was closer to
The thing is, though, even as I wrestled with
feelings for Steve while I watched him wrestle with lingering feelings
for his ex-girlfriend, I can honestly say that I did not work to break
them up and was not even wild with jealousy. I remember feeling upset, not
for myself, but for the heartache Steve was enduring. The entire
situation reinforced my beliefs about the foolishness of high school
dating relationships. In fact, it was strange, very different from other "crushes" I'd had in the past: I really had this sense
that I wanted to be with Steve in the future, not right then.
By the second semester of our senior year, Steve and his girlfriend had broken up for good, and she had started dating someone else. And then it was time for the spring musical. It didn't help anything that Steve and I were cast as Frank Butler and Annie Oakley in our high school's production of Annie Get Your Gun.
As if we weren't already spending tons of time together, now we were playing romantic leads onstage. Let's just say that this role required very little actual acting on my part...
The thing was, though, even though I was crazy in love with Steve by this point, I didn't dare breathe a word of my feelings to anyone (except my friend Julie, who was like the other half of my brain--there was no keeping anything from her). I had never been the girl who tells everyone about her "secret" crush, but in this case especially, I felt that I couldn't possibly let anyone know what was going on in my heart with regard to Steve.
I was always overanalyzing everything, at times wondering or daring to hope that maybe, just maybe, he might be able to care for me. But I was so afraid that his finding out how I felt could ruin everything. Our friendship was so fun, so deep. Over and over that year I wrote in my journal that Kaleb and Steve were the best friends a girl could ask for and I didn't know what in the world I would ever do without them.
So as Steve and I played this couple who falls in love, I was not only awkward and nervous for myself, but also anxious about how Steve felt. Was he disgusted by the idea of falling in love with me? Would he be grossed out if he found out I liked him? I so did not want to mess anything up by letting him find out how far beyond friendship my feelings actually went.
[to be continued]