I’m from Memphis, TN.

Satellite overhead image of Tennessee from Google Earth 2022

I was fifteen when I realized I was in love with my best friend.

I’d never had much interest in boys, but I tried to feign interest so I could feel included in the other girls’ slumber party chitchat. I’d never had a friend like this one, though. She was breathtakingly beautiful, but that wasn’t what kept me drawn to her. There was just…some kind of magnetism between us. We needed each other. She was the earth, the sun, the sky, the air to me. We were teased often by mutual friends about the closeness of our relationship, and we always laughed along, waved it away. It didn’t occur to me that she could be anything other than my best friend – that I could ask or even hope for more than her continued presence in my life. That was all I needed, anyway – for her to be there, tying me to this planet. There was no more gravity, only her face, her touch, her scent, the warmth of her body next to mine as we sat closer than “normal” friends on the sofa, watching movies. Just looking at her was enough to choke me, to overwhelm me with desperate love. Her pain was my pain, her joy mine as well. I would have sacrificed my life on the spot to protect her, to make her happy. And despite all of this, neither of us said a thing. We just carried on, spending as many days together as we could manage, hours on the phone every night, long lazy days picnicking in the park.

It was on one of these days, as we sat contemplating nothing on the shore of a secluded pond at the edge of the woods, that my life changed. Sitting next to me in silence, she sighed contentedly, leaned into me, and dozed off. Without even thinking, I wrapped my arms around her and settled her into the curve of my body, holding her gently, reverently, terrified of breaking the magic that had fallen over the little bubble of the universe where we lounged, frozen in an infinite moment of something so close to perfection that I could barely breathe. Carefully, but somehow almost unconsciously, I leaned in and rested my head in the crook of her neck, feeling her short hair tickle my face, inhaling slowly, taking in the scent that was uniquely hers. In a gesture that needed no thought, that felt more natural than breathing, I pressed my lips to the soft skin of her neck and just lingered there for a moment that felt like eternity. In that instant, something like warm light flooded every inch of my being.

Ecstasy. Enlightenment. Love, pure as the driven snow and fierce as a tiger. I had attained Nirvana, and nothing would ever look the same. I wanted to leap up, to shout, to run, flip, tumble head over heels down a grassy hill. I could have flown, if I’d been able to tear myself away from her. But I wouldn’t have moved, wouldn’t have ended that moment prematurely for anything in the world.

After a while, she stirred, eyelashes fluttering as she yawned and stretched. It was now or never. I swallowed hard, tried to will my racing heart under control. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth… and she stood up. Taking my hand, she said, “It’s getting dark. We’d better get home.” As usual, I was knocked off balance by her warm smile, and so without another word, I smiled back and nodded, sliding an arm comfortably around her waist as we headed back to the car.

I could still feel the light – electricity running in my veins. As long as she was there, I knew it wouldn’t go away. As long as she was happy, I could wait.

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