In the unfamiliar halls of my new school, he was the friendly face that eased the apprehension of a younger version of myself. Fast forward to today, with 293 miles between us, he’s the one I stay in touch with the most. Maybe it’s because of everything else that unfolded between those two points.

A timid, insecure me entered a new school in eighth grade, where I was only one of three new students. I had trouble making friends until I met the boy I sat next to in English class. We quickly went from table mates to friends through a mutual dislike for the goody-two-shoes who would shun us for playing computer games while the teacher was talking. By spring, I had heard whispers of the big crush he had on me, but at the time, the feelings were one sided. He had finally mustered up the courage to ask me out, and stupidly, I shot him down. 

When high school started, he shot his second shot and I decided to give him a chance. We got lunch and talked as we usually did. I didn’t like the pressure of our friendship needing to become something more, so I texted him later that day to say I thought we were better off as friends. We grew closer that year, and during a late night FaceTime in summer 2021, we made a pact to go to prom together. 

As the summer after freshman year was wrapping up, I found myself more excited to see him then I had ever been, even if we had to stand six feet apart just to say hi. That October, we figured, third time’s a charm, right? Wrong. I got out of the elevator and was about to knock on his door when I heard him wrapping up a FaceTime call with his friends. “She’s almost here guys, I gotta go.” I waited a minute or two in the hallway so he wouldn’t think I heard that, and then knocked. One awkward movie later, and I was conflicted all over again. I hit him with the “our friendship is too important to me” once again. 

February of 11th grade rolled around, and one thing led to another. We seesawed from friends to more than friends until senior year, but never officially dated. We didn’t need a label to tell eachother how we felt. When it came time for promposals, he gave me the most perfect, out-of-a-movie promposal, getting the entire high school in on it (which was more than I deserved at that point). The prospect of not seeing him at school everyday made the bittersweet sting of graduating high school more painful. We said goodbye to laughing together in the library, cheering on the New York Knicks, gossiping in the back row of class and keeping our friends on their toes with our confusing relationship.

Now, five years since that timid, insecure girl entered a new school, we are still in touch. The once-crushing distance of 293 miles is now just a number, a mere detail in the grand story of our enduring friendship. The boy who started as a classmate and became a high school love has grown into my best friend and the person who knows me better than anyone else.