Recently, The 1975 released a new album and Phoebe Bridgers, a well-known indie artist, was featured on the song "God Bless America 2005 Jesus Christ." The song was written from the perspective of two closeted gay people in conservative America and it really struck a deep chord with me, and I couldn't tell why.
I kept listening to Phoebe Bridgers' verse: "I'm in love with the girl next door. Her name is Claire."
A memory suddenly dawned on me. I was 12, sitting alone on my bed, the early afternoon light illuminated the wood paneling. It was a hot, July afternoon the day after a regular sleepover. We shared snacks and caught the fireflies outside.
I knew I was jealous of the gross boys who sometimes came around with their harsh words and careless bravado. They changed the atmosphere. They created static. They made her slip a mask on.
They didn't see her putting her lip gloss on in the bathroom mirror earlier that morning, her guard down. They didn't get to see how beautiful she was when the sunshine hit her eyes. They cared less about her and more about her body, and they didn't try to hide it.
They didn't get to appreciate anything I understood — that I felt lucky to have unlocked. Her trust. The feeling of my hand running through her hair as I helped her straighten the back. (It always smelled like honeysuckle).
I stood up in her living room not an hour after they arrived, the boys ignoring me. I told her my mom wanted me to do chores, and I had to leave.
Her voice weakly protested, asked when I'd be back.
I sat on my bed and let quiet tears roll down my eyes.
"Let's get coffee," my mom insisted, one of the only gentle moments I remember with her.
"I don't fit in anymore," I told her, my feet on the dashboard outside of Starbucks.
"Maybe they don't deserve you. You're awesome."
I looked away out the window.
No one knew the burning feeling in my chest. I didn't even understand it. Not because I was territorial and wanted me to be her only friend. It was because I wanted to always have her around, her guard down, smiling into my face inches away from hers in her bed.
It became clear that to her, I wasn't anything special. Not that way. So I let it go and I hoped.
Years later, no longer close, my unknown heartbreak still lingered. She shied away from attention one day at school, telling us she was embarrassed she didn't have makeup on. When she looked up, her eyes pierced right into me.
I felt my heart fall to my stomach. Because she was so, so beautiful. Her big blue eyes were out of a magazine. My heart broke even more. They would never see what I did.
It was OK. Unrequited love is love nonetheless.
..."Nice when she comes 'round to call.
Then masturbate the second she's not there."
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