It’s currently the last week of June. I’ve always hated summer. It’s always so hot and it feels like no amount of air conditioning and cold showers is enough to cool you down. I’ve never understood why so many people love this season; long for it to come back around once it’s gone. The only thing that has managed to make this summer day slightly bearable is being outside, standing beside my better half, a crowd gazing forward as the priest is asking him to recite his vows.
Should I back up? I suppose where I started seems more like an ending than a beginning, so let’s go to the start.
I first met Adam in the fifth grade. I was reading a book during recess when Tyler, the child prodigy of idiocy, decided the funnest thing at that moment was to kick my book out of my hands. I’ve always been a big book lover, even at that age, so it was a bit of a big deal for my young self to handle. I had just picked my book back up when Adam came out of nowhere and kicked Tyler between the legs, warning him to think twice before doing that again. I was always a bit of an easy target to pick on, so to have someone I only knew as Adam, the tall kid in class who had trouble learning, stick up for me was enough to brand him a hero. After that moment, it was as if we had been best friends since birth. You’d rarely see one of us without the other near. A few years later, when I asked him why he did that to Tyler, he told me that he was taught nobody should be picked on. That everybody needs a friend.
Junior high was a breeze for me academically, but Adam seemed to be stumped when it came to questions and assignments where you had to put a little thought into it. I always took it on myself to be that person to help. I’d always felt that I owed Adam for what he did to Tyler for me. There were a few times in middle school where you’d even find me handing him an assignment I had done for him that I didn’t think he could finish by himself. He never took advantage of that, so I was always ready to help again if he needed it. Maybe football practice was running late; maybe the whole team had once again gotten in trouble for a stunt Tyler had pulled, thinking it the world’s most amazing prank.
High school seemed to be the place where problems for myself started making themselves known. I had never given much thought to dating, or even who I’d wanna ask out if dating ever seemed like something I wanted. Once we hit 14 though, I found that it always seemed to be present in my thoughts. As our bodies started to fill out, changing from our childhood days, I would more frequently find myself glancing at Adam. Starting from about our second or third year of middle school, he had gotten interested in football, and the way his body seemed to be transforming on a daily basis, you could tell. Where he once had a pudgy little stomach, he was now flat, the beginnings of abs making their presence known. The legs that used to appear shapeless, now showing some definition. It seemed puberty was against me, and doing it all it could possibly do to attract me to Adam. Things I’d never noticed before were suddenly all I was thinking about. How incredibly dark his hair was; dark as a moonless, starless night. How his eyes, that always just looked blue, suddenly looked more like oceans. When he was excited, it was almost like there were waves in them, dancing around excitedly with him. All of the time he spent outside during football practice had turned his skin into a sun kissed tan.
Then there was me, who just seemed to not change at all. My hair was blonde. On the rare occasions where you’d find me outside in the sun, it was almost freakishly white. People used to joke about keeping me locked up in the summer so I wouldn’t blind the world with my hair. My eyes were a mess. It was as if brown and green had gotten into a fight and neither had won. So while Adam was blessed with his ocean-colored eyes, mine resembled muddy grass. Since I was always inside doing homework, reading a book, or wasting my life away on a gaming machine with Adam, my skin was constantly, hopelessly pallid looking. Cursed with a small 5’10” stature compared to his 6’2” only made me feel even smaller next to him. My only plus was my body. While I wasn’t much of a sports person, I made sure I ran at least once a day. Twice if it had been a lazy day. So while I was cursed with my looks, and Adam gifted with his, I let myself fall into daydreams about him on a regular basis. I almost forced myself to stop at one point. I had had an incredibly vivid dream that had made hanging out with him awkward for weeks.
We had been playing a video game. As usual, I was demolishing him. I’ve always prided myself on my gaming skills. I noticed that it was a lot easier than it usually was, almost as if he wasn’t trying. So I turned to look at him to see what was wrong, and when I did, I found his face mere inches from mine. It’s never taken much to spook me, so seeing him staring at me from so close made me scream and fall backwards. Something like that, which would usually make him laugh himself into tears, didn’t even make him budge. Not even a slight twitch at the corners of his mouth. Being genuinely worried about him, I asked him what was wrong. He just kept staring at me though, making me feel more self-conscious than I normally do. The only thing that seemed to register for him was when I grabbed his shoulders and shook him around, asking him slowly what was wrong with him.
“Do you ever think about me, Jess?” If it hadn’t been for his serious expression as he said it, I probably would’ve laughed at him and asked him what drug he was on. All I could seem to do was sit there and stare at him, not quite sure what to say. The only words that seemed able to escape my lips were, “Excuse me?”
That was when he put his hands over mine and leaned even closer. “Have you ever thought about me? I only ask because we’ve been friends for years and you never seem to talk about dating. And when I talk about dating, you always change the subject. Then this past week, everybody on the team has been telling me that we’re like a married couple, attached at the hip. So, it got me thinking, and I wanna know. Have you ever thought about us as more than friends?” As much as I enjoyed the way he was leaning in as he asked that, the fear I had that people were noticing was enough for me to scare myself awake. I couldn’t even look at Adam for a couple weeks without wondering if he was thinking about that.
Junior and Senior year were major reliefs though. Between me being in AP classes and him always being busy with football practice, we didn’t see each other much, in or out of school. We still had lunch and weekends, but I found that our lack of time together had made it easier to not thinking about him so much. Did I still help him with homework when he needed it? Yes. Was I his loudest fan at each game he played? Definitely. But that seemed to be the extent of our contact.
Which was why he decided that for college, we should share an apartment. The same apartment we still live in today, three years later. We were both lucky enough to get into college on scholarships. He on a sports scholarship; I, an academic one. So paying for the apartment wasn’t nearly as hard as it seems to be for other students around us. It was such a relief to get away from a high school dress code. Most days now, you’ll find me sitting somewhere in nothing but shorts, a t-shirt, and some socks, with my nose buried in a book. Lately, it seems you’re more likely to find me in my room reading though; the only place I can seem to escape the undressed monster that is Adam.
I enjoyed not having a daily dress code. Adam though, seemed to absolutely love it. It was a rare sight to see him in something other than just shorts when we weren’t in class. On a lucky day, he’d walk around in jeans while his shorts were being washed, sparing my wandering eyes from his almost naked body. It was as if those 3 years of awkwardly avoiding him were for nothing. If anything, I found myself thinking about him more now than I did in high school. Daily, I find myself wondering why I agreed to room with him. After seven years, I should have known I’d see him in nothing but shorts more often than not. He’s always loved to show off his body to anybody who would look at him. How I managed to get any work done still amazes me.
Here we are though, two guys who just turned 20, standing in front of a crowd of onlookers. Me, standing beside Adam as his best man as he stands there reciting the vows I wrote for him to his soon-to-be wife; my sister, Eve. They always thought it was cute. Standing here right now though, it’s all I can do to keep from rolling my eyes and retching. While she’s reading her vows, also my doing, all I can seem to do is let my mind wander. Later, while Eve’s on a plane with my better half as her new husband, all I’ll be doing is sitting on his bed, reading a book he got me for my birthday while grasping onto the giant apple plush I got him for his.