IV.

“I’m going to get with him, he’s cute.” T and I peered over at a grainy thumbnail of a boy wearing a purple v-neck. He wore glasses and sat perched on a bed in Connecticut. Behind him was a simple cream-colored room, and behind that were the clean white and blue lines of Facebook. Camp was days away, and the excitement manifested in video introductions from the theatre majors.  

He had almond colored eyes, auburn hair, and a smile so wide it shrunk his eyes. His voice was  rich, with a laugh that boomed in his slight rib cage. We were only teenagers, and our love very much reflected that. We kissed on the 4th of July, drunk on alcohol he snuck into camp via a  mouthwash bottle. I knew T was pouting nearby, envious and enraged by my rejection of his  earlier claim.  

“You can’t call dibs on people, the heart wants what it wants,” I’d later offer. “Sorry” probably  would have performed better.  

Loving him was easy. I loved his deer-like eyes, and the hair on top of his feet. I loved his unruly  eyebrows, and how quickly he fell asleep. Within minutes of shutting his eyes, his limbs would  twitch, like the paws of a dog dreaming of running, and I knew he was out. Our first time was on a twin bed – a Target mattress pad underneath us, unscented lotion nearby on a nightstand. Clunky mutterings of “are you okay?” and “is this alright?” sealed the deal.  

Our last night, our friends broke curfew, snuck into one room, and pushed three beds together  for us all to slumber. We slept easily despite the rebellion, “expulsion” no longer a risk. In the  morning, fear and uneasiness gripped my growing heart, knowing things would never be the  same. Hope and summer love are mutually exclusive, and even I knew that.  

Soon, despite promises, phone calls, and plans for the future, our love pattered out. 6-weeks of  unaccompanied adolescent bliss could hardly trump anxious analysis of punctuation, a hawk-like  mother, and months if not years of time spent physically apart. Things ended regrettably and forgettably, with a well-fulfilled promise of friendship down the line.  

Now, in adulthood, loving him remains easy. I love his deer-like eyes, and the hair on top of his  feet. I love his unruly (before they’re plucked) eyebrows, and how quickly he falls asleep,  (especially if he’s been drinking). I love his twitchy limbs, and the muscles of his quads. I love the way he looks in mesh, and the assortment of sunglasses on his dresser. I love his taste in music, and I love how easy he makes life look and feel.  

Our junior year, we took a trip to Berlin. Dressed in all-black and eager for experience, we  accepted ecstasy from a comically tall stranger, in a room the size of a closet. The doors lit up with each step we took, ripples of light bolting beneath us. My shirt clung to my chest like a spider web, drenched in sweat from running, grinding, and kissing. On the train, eyes half-closed as the sun rose, he laid his head on my chest.  

“You’re my best friend, I love you,” he whispered, his voice gravelly from shouting.  

They say the best relationships happen when you start off as friends. I like to think the other way around works too. 

Jose Useche is an actor and writer from Queens, NY. As a writer, his web series pilot SLUT has received laurels from the Official Latino Film Festival, the Baltimore Next Media Web Fest (where it won best LGBTQ Web-Series), the Chicago Pride Film Festival, and Web Series Festival Global. Jose has written jokes and questions for SCRUFF’s in-app game show HOSTING, and does communications for several LGBTQ nonprofits including the Arcus Foundation, the Transgender Law Center, and PFLAG NYC. His personal blog, Manic Hispanic, has garnered over 10,000 hits in its lifetime.

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