IT'S A PERFECT moment, really.
It's almost midnight, and Jubilee Marshfield and I are sitting on the see saw at this little kid playground, without see-sawing. We just bob up and down slightly, our gangly teenager legs way too long for how low the see saw sits. There aren't any lights here, since kids aren't usually on playgrounds this time of night. And as we bob a little, the see saw makes this creepy moan that echoes around in the dark.
Perfect except for one thing.
I brought us here so that I could tell her--actually, finally tell her--that I am in love with her.
And I am failing miserably.
"But the thing is," she says, and then she stops to think. Her hair is in these long wild curls and right then she pushes off the ground and her curls bounce way up when she reaches the top as I bang my ass on the ground.
And as I rise up in the air as she falls, and her curls look like her hair is a campfire atop her head, I ask, "What is the thing, Jube?"
Sometimes she starts thinking and just forgets to keep me updated. Once she gets going on these rants, it's like trying to stop a hurricane. She starts railing against all the dumb rules of life and stuff, but can't do anything about them, so she feels Life Claustrophobia.
We see saw up and down a few times and the only sound is the wail of the see saw across the dark.
It's a perfectly horrible, impossible, useless time to tell someone you love them.
Especially that you've always loved them and have been too chickenshit all these years to tell them.
"The thing is, Lewis, we don't even fucking remember most of our lives. We live this long life if we're lucky, but most of it is so boring that we don't even bother to keep it in our brains."
Then, when she's at the bottom and I'm at the top of the see saw, she slips off her seat. I free fall until I feel my ass bang against the ground and my spine crunch together and my tailbone shatter. I hear her laugh and run off, and I stand up slowly and realize that I am, in fact, unhurt. Sort of.
I have this theory. The thing about being in love with your best friend, when they don't know it, is that you're in Heaven and Hell at the same time.
Or maybe the thing about being in love with your best friend is that you're best friends, and you can be yourself, but you want to not be yourself. You want to be the guy that she will fall for, the guy she tells you about. You want to be somebody else different than you, better than you, but then if you did that you wouldn't be friends anymore. And where does that get you?
I've taken what I could.
My best friend is Jubilee Marshfield.
As far as friends go, she's the best kind to have.
As far as people to fall in love with, I should've chosen a hedgehog. I'd have an easier time figuring out a Siberian fur trader's daughter who could only grunt at me.
But I'm doomed because this very quality of mystery is what I love about Jubilee Marshfield.
I see her across the playground over on the swings and walk over.
"I'm fine, by the way. You were saying?" I say.
I sit in the swing beside hers and spin in circles to twist the chains together, then let them unwind. She pumps her legs to swing higher. She has a beautiful voice and on the swing, while she talks, she gets louder and quieter, back and forth.
"Like this moment, right here," she says. "This. Right. Now. Will we remember this?"
I will. Because yet again I can't muster the balls to tell her how I feel.
But I remember lots of things.
Because the other thing about being in love with your best friend is that you remember things that most people can forget. Like, I will certainly remember this moment. I remember that she hates curly fries but loves tater tots. I remember that her favorite Muppet was Fozzie Bear. I remember that she loves The Decemberists and Randy Newman, who I'd never heard of.
She prefers Dr. Pepper, the color green, Macs, flip-flops, books, and football. She can't stand high heels (pumps, she calls them, and that name's why she can't stand them), Glee, music with keyboards in it, texting or cell phones in general, my car (even though she doesn't have one, so we use mine all the time), and my other best friend, Freddie Shoemaker, or "Shoe," as we've called him since first grade.