Tuesday, October 10, 2023

I used to crush on this guy, a writer as old as me when I was 19. 

No, not the one you think. If you're an old-timer here who's known me, you'd think you know who I'm talking about. This is another one. I don't think I ever fully admitted to crushing on him. Truth be told, it was more of being in awe, looking up with aspiration. He got bylines with nationals when we were writing for deadbeat student publications and not once, pretty fucking regularly. In hindsight, generational/cultural wealth played a big role but as a 19-20 year old, you don't factor those things and look at life in black or white. 

If he could, then so could I. 

It wasn't just that. He was cute. I mean, he was gorgeous. Really dapper. Deep eyes, pixie hair, solid nose, a jawline, the works. He was all that and real talented. If I speak more, I'll give it away so we'll have to contain within these generic, unhelpful filters. 

A year into knowing about him, I ran into him at an event; nothing big. I recall asking him for a picture and I'm pretty sure he didn't think it much of a deal. That shot is still up on my Facebook to this day (good luck trying to find it). I think it was that rare moment when I felt confident enough to do that. The next time I'd do something like that would be 9 years later on my birthday eve with a boy, I was madly in love with. 

A few years later, I heard about him, from a completely different source. If I speak more, I'll give this away but let's just say, we were in the same circle and destined to be friends, one way or another. I didn't think much about it and let the feeling stay. This is almost a decade since we got that shot and to be honest, I'd been with a bunch of writers and wankers alike so he had lost his 19-year-old talented lad sheen. I was between a soul-sucking heartbreak and a dramatic rebound situation so I was unfazed when I realised our paths crossed again.

Much as I avoided the subject of the man, our paths crossed in a way that we finally spent some one-on-one time, a few years later, after the initiation of being introduced to one another formally. He was nicer than I thought him to be; warm, kind, and gentle even though I didn't anticipate any of those qualities with him (I was 19 and wrote him as a bad boy, without knowing a thing about him). We bonded over things that I didn't think in my wildest dreams would happen. 

I shouldn't be surprised because this is not the first time things have touched my life and returned in full swing, in my face. This particular situation is a repeated, regular pattern in my life. I'll come across someone briefly and make an assumption. We'll move on with our lives and boom, one day they're in my life, full-fledged and I realise they are nothing like I made them up in my head. This happens every fucking year, with someone or the other. This has happened with men I've dated seriously, casually, in passing, friends of men I've seen and so on. This even happens at a platonic level. Case in point, my friend at work. Someone I met for the first time on my first day in office. I saw her clear her desk, say bye to everyone and leave just before she started her maternity leave (she would deliver her kid on the weekend and I was in on a Thursday, we were in the same space for a good 15 minutes and no acknowledgment besides a hi). For 8 odd months, I thought she was a really senior resource on her way to taking some time off. When we met, at an office party for the first time, I reminded her how I saw her on my first day in, which was her last day out. She and I have been friends since, something my last year self could imagine because could I ever be friends with someone who looked so cool and confident while being full-term pregnant? Never. 

I digress, but this erstwhile gorgeous guy and I had a brief run-in with our personal lives. Without getting into details, as adult life runs, we are no longer in the same radius, even by association. Though I've been repeatedly in his orbit, over and over again, we don't have any cold starts in us. I can't even say this is providence because this goddamn city is small and practically everyone knows everyone and somehow everyone knows this gent. Yet, I find it odd, how every 6-9 months, he crosses my path either via personal or professional connection and I sit and wonder about what my 19-year-old self would think. 

No part of my head recalls him as the guy I chilled with as a 30-something when we met. Somehow, in my head, he'll forever be 19 and the epitome of hot and talented all at once (honestly, I can't rationalise with my inner teenaged child and that's a reason as good as any to not opt for motherhood). Earlier today, I came across his socials (that I'd carefully been dodging for the most part of this year) and I'm pleased to report, he's transitioned to a 30-something, exhausted man-child bear face. His cute nose no longer occupies the prime spot on his face. Instead, it is replaced with bags under his eye, bigger than Pierce Brosnan's ballsack. I won't lie, it was disappointing. If anything, at 19 I looked dreadful and didn't think he could age badly. Here we are, roles reversed. 

I'm gorgeous now, but my 19-year-old self is a tough critic to please. 

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