Remember your first birthday we spent together? Well. Not your first birthday. I wasn’t there for that. The first birthday you had after we’d met each other?
I went to the mall and searched for probably two hours to find you the perfect gift. Of course I told myself that it was only because you were such a great friend, but I was clearly lying to said self. I ended up finding a journal to give to you. It’s actually now the journal I use to write our grocery lists, but I didn’t know at the time you weren’t much of a journal-er.
Besides, it has some weird chinese lettering on the front. I’m sorry I was such a bad gift giver, but let’s be honest. It’s not easy to find a birthday gift that says, “Hey you. We’re good friends. But that’s all, because I have a boyfriend. I’m not romantically interested in you in the least, let’s just make that clear right here and now. But I do respect you, appreciate you, and have a lot of fun with you. And maybe someday we’ll get married, have two really cute boys, and move to Texas. But for now, we are Just. Friends.”
That’s a lot to ask out of one gift, and frankly I think the chinese journal did a pretty bang up job at conveying my message.
So the evening of your birthday, some mutual friends of ours told me that they were throwing you a surprise party and that it would be MY job to bring you back to the dorm for it. You were in charge of organizing a Riley Armstrong concert that night, which was a huge success, and the party was scheduled for afterwards.
Our friends forgot to account for your tireless work ethic, though. I asked if you wanted to hang out after the concert and you said, “Sure, but I have to clean up first.” I told you it was no problem, that I’d gladly wait. So I waited in the bleachers of the gym while you cleaned.
Shawn, you pushed that stupid broom back and forth over the gym floor for like an hour. I told you they had janitors for just that purpose, and the gym floor was plenty clean. I told you it was your birthday and you deserved to just let it go. I told you the floor looked great to me and didn’t need any further cleaning. I kept hopping up to ask you if I could help and you kept saying, “No, I got it. Just sit and relax.”
Sure. Sit and relax while we’re over an hour late for your surprise party. I finally tracked down a couple friends of yours, told them what was going on and begged them to help you finish up your stinkin’ sweeping so we could go. I think I told you there was some kind of RA emergency in the dorm that I needed your help with. I’m not a very good liar so you probably didn’t believe me, but I appreciate you pretending.
You hate surprise parties – especially ones thrown in your honor. I can’t lie – that’s part of what made it so fun to watch your reaction when you realized that you were walking in on your own party.
The rest of the party was pretty much a blur, but I vaguely remember giving you that journal. What I remember clearly though, was the hug afterwards. I was sitting next to you with both of our butts kind of propped up on the back of a dorm lobby couch. You reached one arm out towards me, I reached one arm out towards you, and we side-hugged.
Most. Awkward. Hug. Ever.
In our over six months of friendship, we’d likely never really touched. I mean, beyond you kicking the back of chair incessantly in Marriage & Family class or trying to fit something odd into my ear without me noticing. It was only days after that hug that I acknowledged my feelings for you to God and only a short time after that when I broke up with my boyfriend.
I think that hug sparked something in both of us, the awkwardness in it told us there was something more than either of us realized in our friendship.
Happy Birthday, Shawn. And thank you for hugging me. I still respect your tireless work ethic and my heart still skips when we hug. I’m so grateful for you and your life, and can’t thank you enough for choosing to spend it with me. I love you, and want to wish you an amazingly Happy Birthday, sweetheart.