Friday, February 27, 2015

Tuesday, February 24th

I felt a tinge of nervousness as I stepped out of Joey's car in my high heeled boots, black tights, and the black neoprene skater dress I had worn on my birthday.

CJ met me at the foot of the stairs to his house and wrapped me in his arms. I let my head fall onto his shoulder, "You doing ok?" CJ asked.

"Lesson helped take my mind off the drama," I sighed, "I'm glad I'm not home right now. Whitney's been texting me, she's freaking out, I would get no studying done."

"That's what I'm here for," CJ said, we let go of each other and CJ took a seat at his kitchen table. Across from him, I took off my coat, revealing the outfit that made me look like I was coming over to get some. In reality, I had the dress on for ballroom lesson and was on my way out the door nearly three hours ago when CJ offered for me to escape the drama of my house for the night and study at his. The next text that buzzed in before I had a chance to respond was CJ's additional offer for me to spend the night at his house.

If this was last year, I wouldn't have thought anything of it. But this was a new year, and the offer to spend the night felt heavy on my chest. CJ's apartment didn't have a couch anymore, and CJ didn't have a girlfriend anymore.

"Do you want pajamas?" CJ asked, his eyes flicking from the hem of my dress to my bare shoulders.

"Yes, please," I smiled, and CJ reappeared from his room a moment later with a pair of plaid flannel pants and a white t-shirt. When I swapped my black dress for CJ's clothes, I looked in the bathroom mirror and sighed. The black dress was what a girl who was trying to impress a guy would wear, this old white undershirt and slightly-pilled flannel pants was what a girl who already had the guy would wear. And after the drama-filled day I had had, I felt so much better in the latter choice of outfits.

I curled up opposite CJ at the kitchen table, and he got me a bowl of cereal as a post-dance snack. I realized CJ and I were dressed alike, both of us in white undershirts and plaid pj pants. We studied until about 12:30, when we both were on the verge of passing out on our laptops. When we finally closed the screens of our computers, I felt another twinge of nervousness.

Yesterday, CJ and I had been studying all day, until CJ proposed nap time and we both ended up curled up in my twin bed. At first we were just sleeping on two different sides of the bed, and then CJ went to check his phone, and when he came back, he put his arm around me and pulled me close. It wasn't a friendly cuddle, there was a necessity for closeness in the embrace. If we were going to spend the entire night in a the same fashion, there was about to be no way we could call this just friendship anymore.

We crawled into CJ's bed, and instead of falling asleep, CJ and I kept talking. We were casually chatting until CJ said the same sentence he had been saying since we became friends again: "Kaitlyn, you make me so confused sometimes."

My head shot up from his chest and I looked CJ right in the eye, "I don't understand that sentence," I spat, my heartbeat picking up in fury, "It doesn't make sense to me CJ. Either you like me enough to actually do something about it, or you don't-"

I didn't get to finish my sentence before CJ's lips were on mine.

CJ Anslow had officially made his move.

It was several seconds until we broke apart, and it wouldn't be until maybe the next day when the shock wore off.

"This is kind of a big deal for me," CJ admitted, "You're the first girl besides Sarah who I've kissed in five years."

"It's about damn time," I smiled.

"It's only been a week-"

"CJ, when you told me a month ago about why you didn't talk to me all summer, you said you didn't want it to change anything between us. And for me, it honestly didn't. Even if you said you had feelings for me, the true fact was that you didn't do anything about them. You either like me, or you don't, and if if you don't want to do anything about it then that's not liking me in my mind," I spit out the truth that I had been trying to say in nicer words for a while, "But something changed for you when you said it. I saw it in how you looked at me.

"Yeah," CJ whispered, looking down, "It did."

"I don't half ass things, especially where my feelings are concerned. Its black and white: either you like someone enough to do something about it, or you don't like them."

"I'm sorry, I'm a wuss," CJ kissed me again, and this time he didn't stop. It was a while into our make-out session until CJ's hand slipped up my shirt.

We pulled apart for a brief moment, "This doesn't have to go anywhere you're not comfortable going yet," I said softly.

"Thanks," CJ smiled, "If there's one thing I know you know how to do, it's follow my lead."

I giggled, "It's like we're dancers or something," I smiled, and then I leaned down and kissed him.

"There's so many things I want to do, I just don't know if I'm ready yet," CJ returned my kiss.

"I'm in no rush," I smiled darkly.

There is always something about hooking up with a new guy, a feeling of getting to know someone so intimately. When CJ took his plaid PJ pants off of me, I didn't feel that feeling at all. We already knew each other so well, it was as if this new intimate connection was merely an extension of what we already had. Nothing felt weird or foreign or new, and that was a good thing. Maybe part of it was because we spent so much of our friendship dancing together, we were just already so physically connected.

We didn't have sex. We did everything but that, at CJ's discretion. And it felt right, not to rush things. CJ said he wasn't ready, and maybe I wasn't ready either. I wanted to make sure this was for real before I went all the way.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday, February 17th

"I'm going to talk to Sarah tomorrow, and then Wednesday I'm going to talk to you."

CJ's words echoed in my head as I woke up from my nap, finally feeling less hungover at 5:30pm. My stomach didn't feel nauseous anymore, instead it was clenched with nerves. The inevitability of what was going to happen dawned on me as the hour drew nearer, and despite having been waiting for this day since sometime last year, I was suddenly nervous.

Everything was going to change. Everything that had been brewing since the summer was about to implode and explode simultaneously. I was nervous CJ wasn't going to actually break up with her, I was scared how he would be after if he did, or didn't. I found myself terrified for the possibility of what new world this would open up between us. I was actually, genuinely scared.

Maybe it was because this meant I wouldn't have to keep my feelings for CJ locked deep inside anymore- what would happen when I opened that box to see what was really there? But then there was another part of me that didn't want to open that box, even without Sarah in the question. I saw what he did to Sarah, could I trust him not to do the same to me? Did I want to trust him in that way? The unknown was looming, and I was about to dive headfirst into it.

Last night was a bit of a blur of a birthday, but I recalled CJ and I on the couch after we went out to the bars: we were cuddled up around each other when he said he was talking to Sarah the next day. It was after I admitted that what he's been doing the past few weeks could be considered cheating. He said he knew.

And before CJ left to go home, it happened again: our faces were mere centimeters apart, and we just paused. Unlike the other moments where we had ended up in this same position, the pull between us was stronger than ever. Any other time, I think we had been both been internally daring the other to make the move, but neither of us did. This time, I could feel something actually pulling us together.

CJ kissed my forehead, and we hugged. In that moment I think we knew that there was no turning back from whatever had been happening the past few weeks. We both knew that on Wednesday, everything was going to change. When CJ first told me that he had feeling for me, he said he didn't want it to change anything between us, and I don't think it changed anything for me, but something changed for him. I had been watching CJ let himself fall for me, and maybe I should have stopped him.

And I was worried what it meant that I didn't.

Are you home?

I was sitting at my kitchen table, curled up with my laptop. It had happened. When I told CJ I was home, he responded instantly asking if he could come over.

Three hours ago, I left my house for a ballroom lesson, knowing that CJ was talking to Sarah. My gut told me that when I left lesson, I was waiting into an entirely new world where the line that kept CJ and I as friends would be erased. For the past couple weeks, the line had been foggy, but now the fog had lifted and no line would be left underneath.

My house had this lovely white porch. Many summer days had been spent on that porch reading, or eating dinner, or talking with my roommates. From the porch, you entered the door to the house, that led to a hallway. You could either walk straight down the hallway to the door to my apartment, or go up the stairs to go to the other two apartments. When I saw CJ's text that he was here, I walked down the hallway to open the door to the house, and saw CJ heading up the porch, his head hanging.

He looked at me as I leaned against the open front door, and I took a step back to open the door further and let him past me. The second I leaned away from the door, CJ threw his arms around me. His head fell onto my shoulder and the force of his hug pushed me against the wall of the hallway. I put my arms around him tightly, not even saying a word. We stood there for a few minutes, CJ crying into my shoulder, until he let go and followed me down the hallway to the apartment door.

CJ barely took off his winter coat before curling up in a ball on my bed. Still in my cheetah print skater dress and drapey cardigan I had worn to ballroom lesson, I curled up behind him, resting my arm across his shoulders.

"Do you have a tissue?" CJ asked, his voice slightly muffled.

"Yeah," I whispered, getting up and quickly grabbing a box from the bathroom. When I got back to my room, CJ was laying across my bed, his eyes bright red. I handed him the box and sat across from him on my bed. After I few minutes I asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

CJ shook his head.

"Ok," I said, "I'm going to make you a cup of tea, and I'm getting you a brownie."

A few minutes later, I returned from the kitchen with two steaming mugs of camomile tea and one of the caramel brownies my roommate Lauren had made earlier today.

"Thanks," said CJ, with a small smile, and he moved over on the bed so I could lay down next to him.  He put an arm around me and we sat there in silence for a while.

"How was lesson?" CJ asked, leaning over me to take a sip of his tea.

"Really good," I said, "We got a motivational speech from Uncle Stevie and Auntie Susan. They told us we needed to be bigger and bolder in our dancing, and that we couldn't fear looking like idiots. They reminded us that we do this to enjoy ourselves, and that one day we won't have this opportunity in our lives," I mused on everything that our coaches, Steven and Susan, had said to us, "They reminded us to treasure every moment. I sort of forgot that. It was a good lesson, it sort of gave me warm fuzzies on the inside."

"That's cool," CJ said.

"We needed the reminder," I admitted, "Our silver cha cha final at Ohio State, it was like Joey wasn't there for it, he didn't smile, didn't put any energy into it, and I couldn't pull him out of it. When we finished the round I had to remind him that we had to dance the rumba like we wanted to win it. He was fine after that, but it was like Steve and Susan were saying: you've got to live in the moment, because we can't ever get them back."

"They're right," CJ said.

We talked about dance, about the rest of my lesson, about this weekend's upcoming competition at Michigan State, and then fell into silence, but it was ok.

"What really sucked was that she didn't care at all that I was hanging out with you again," CJ broke the silence and I bit my lip. I almost wanted to hit him: he told Sarah that he was hanging out with me to make her jealous. He wanted her to care, he wanted her to be mad and want him back, so he had an excuse not to end it. But Sarah didn't care, Sarah didn't care because Sarah didn't like him anymore. It was obvious from the descriptions of how things had been falling apart since the fight at the end of last school year when CJ told her that he had feelings for me.

"I'm sorry," I muttered, not really sure of any kind of appropriate response besides something mean.

"You still make me very confused sometimes, you know that right?"

"This sounds like your problem," I let my lips turn up into a teasing smile.

CJ chuckled.

Our conversation shifted back to life, we were talking like normal for a while, and then CJ took my hand. We held hands, fingers intertwined. CJ's other arm was wrapped around my shoulders, keeping me close. I don't know if I found it slightly ironic that only hours after CJ's breakup did we find each other cuddled up together. A part of me didn't find it weird at all, mostly because this was the norm for Kaitlyn and CJ of the past few weeks, nothing had really changed.

And that last fact in itself was not a good one.

We were cuddled up under my blanket when the conversation turned back to the breakup, "This sucks," was all CJ kept saying, and he cried a little bit more.

"I hate crying," CJ said.

"You'll be ok, CJ, I promise," I hugged him, "Time heals all wounds. You won't be ok right now, you won't be ok tomorrow, but one day you will be."

"Thanks for being there," CJ said, a little few sniffles later.

"This is what best friends are for," I shrugged, "When things get tough, you don't have to deal with them alone."

"You're the best, Kaitlyn," CJ whispered.

"I know," I whispered back.

"I should probably go," CJ said after a few minutes of holding me close, "But I don't want to."

"Whatever you need CJ, you know I'm here for you," I said sincerely.

"I know," CJ said, "Thank you."

I walked CJ out, and a few of my roommates were sitting on the couch in the living room watching TV. Instead of saying goodbye in the living room like normal, I walked out with him through the apartment door into the narrow hallway where he had hugged me earlier. In a moment of deja vu, we hugged again. It wasn't a normal goodbye hug: we held each other tight, and our hug lasted long past an acceptable hug length.

"I'm getting bagels after class tomorrow, if you want to join."

"I'll see if I get out of bed," CJ said.

"You know where to find me if you do," I smiled sympathetically, "I'm sorry, CJ."

"Thank you for everything. Goodnight, Kaitlyn."

"Goodnight, CJ."

I waited until I saw his car drive down the street to leave the hallway.

In the entirety of our friendship, there had been a line separating CJ and I. The past couple weeks the line had been foggy, and now that the fog had cleared, there was no more line. And this was a whole new world.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Friday, February 6th

Like the cool college student that I am, my Friday night consisted of dance practice. It felt like last year and Joey and I shared our racquetball court with CJ and Alison. Our ballroom dream team was back together. The four of us knew how to practice with each other: we never ran into the other couple, CJ and Alison gave us occasional advice in exchange for us videotaping a move here or there.

Sweaty from practice, CJ and I met our friend Cassie to study at my house. Two of my roommates were also doing homework, and after a few hours of productivity we all made a McDonalds run. Upon return from the Land of Chicken Nuggets, CJ and Cassie and I dumped Bailey's in our vanilla milkshakes. 

When Cassie left a little while later, CJ and I cracked open a bottle of wine. My studying roommates had retreated to their rooms, and CJ and I didn't even bother to turn on the TV or watch a movie, or do anything. We just sat sat on the couch and talked. We talked until the rest of the roommates got home from the bars.

When the rest of the roommates left to sleep off their drunkenness, our conversation resumed, our bottle of wine was polished off, and CJ's arm snaked around my shoulders. The arm-around-the-shoulder was just the impetus for us to end up snuggling on the couch. 

The night that we drank two bottles of wine and cuddled, there was a bubbling sexual tension beneath everything. The night were we ended up talking in my bed had been subtly flirty, texting the waters of where were now. If there was a way to describe this cuddle, it was romantic. There was a level of comfort to how CJ held me on the couch, each touched seemed to show a familiarity with each other. It was a familiarity where each embrace was just an extension of the mental connection between us. 

We just talked, we talked about our childhoods, our families, life post graduation, our friends, and dance, and each other.

We talked about how much we missed each other last semester, how much it meant to have each other back in our lives once again.

And then the conversation turned to Sarah.

It was a good thing that I have a heart of stone because I don't think any girl should have to hear a guy talk about another girl while laying next to him. 

"We haven't talked in a week," CJ admitted, "And before that," CJ pulled his phone from the side table and pulled up their text thread, "Hardly anything, and all I get are one word responses."

"You should deal with this CJ, you really should talk to her," I looked just over the phone screen so I couldn't read the texts. I felt like I was looking at something far too personal. 

"I know," CJ said softly and set his phone down.

I looked back at CJ and saw that his eyes were full of tears, "The more you put it off, the harder its going to be."

"I'm scared, I don't know what's going to happen," CJ admitted, not meeting my eyes.

"And what do you think is going to happen if you just don't do anything? Things aren't going to magically work themselves out."

"I just don't know Kaitlyn, I don't know what to say, I don't know what she's going to say, I don't know what I want to happen," CJ said, a tear escaping.

"Life is full of unknowns, we all have to face them at some point," I said softly, "Just go in with a clear head, figure out what you want."

CJ nodded.

"You can do it, it might suck and it'll be hard, but you can do it," I reached over and wiped the tears from his eyes.

"You're the best Kaitlyn," CJ pulled me even closer, "Even though you do make me confused sometimes, I'm glad I've got you. And I think you're 95% of the reason I got out of my depression."

"Don't you forget it," I said into his chest. I looked up to see CJ studying me, this wasn't the first time I had gotten this look tonight. I looked back at him, and I could see the cogs turning in his mind. I looked straight back at him, our eyes locking. 

This had to be the third time all night that we stared into each other's eyes saying nothing, and each time I swear I could see one thought rolling through his mind. As I looked back, each time, I was silently daring him to reveal what I knew he was thinking. 

But CJ never kissed me. 

We nearly fell asleep on the couch together, talking until it reached 4:45am, and I said I should get up and go to bed. CJ held me closer, "Stay here just a little bit longer."

It was 5am when I ended up in my bed, and it wasn't until 5am when I realized what was really happening here: CJ was dating Sarah, in name only. And CJ was only not cheating on Sarah, in name only. CJ hadn't, and wouldn't, act on the feelings he had for me that would be blatantly considered cheating. He wouldn't kiss me. But he would tell me about his childhood, cry in front of me, text me every second that we weren't together, and cuddle with me when we were. He would bring me food, take me to McDonald's, listen to me bitch, and give me advice when I needed it. There's cheating, and then there's cuddling with your best gal pal until 5am discussing your lives: and I was beginning to think they were the same damn thing.  

When the day of reckoning with Sarah comes, all hell is going to break loose. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thursday, January 15th

"Am I going to have lipstick all over my face now?" CJ asked, admiring the bright red lipstick stain on the glittery flask in his hands.

"Are you going to care if you do?" I pursed my bright red lips and blew him a kiss.

"I'll drink to that," CJ raised my flask to his lips and took a swig before passing it back to me. From where we sat, we could hear the muffled music playing from the ballroom team's welcome week event. Just a few minutes before, I had finished my foxtrot showcase and had yet to change out of my black and white gown. CJ, Whitney, and I were hiding out in one of the isolated hallways of the Michigan Union, casually stealing sips from the flasks we had brought along to the event. We were unofficially starting the after party early this year.

I was only hanging out with CJ to wait for the right moment to call him out for hanging out with me. He had been shockingly nice to me since this semester had began, which was a striking change from the previous one. I was just dying to ask him, innocently of course, if he was only being friendly to me because he's fighting with Sarah. It wouldn't be an out-of-the-blue question: I would tell him that all last year I knew whenever he was fighting with Sarah before he would tell me because I could feel when I got bumped from no. 1 priority from my usual no. 2 slot. He was talking to me again, conversationally, asking about my life. Partner-less for practice before the welcome week event, CJ asked if he could run his routines with me during our pre-tryouts rounds, and even dancing with him seemed to push us back into a familiar pattern of friendship. There was something comforting about the way I settled back into a standard frame with him, or the way I could follow his open latin choreography; it was almost like we used to be best friends or something.

When we arrived at the actual welcome week after-party two hours later, I had swapped my gown for a pair of ankle length black jeans, a sequin trapeze tank, and a pair of sky-high nude Gucci platforms.

"Grab a bottle, whatever is the best stuff on the table," CJ said, as the two of us rounded on the table of alcohol.

I poured us a pair of shots of Captain, and didn't bother to return to the handle to the table. The only time I let go of our handle was when CJ and I went to go dance. We did shots, and when our bottle began to get low, we poured the remains into a solo cup and drank it straight. When CJ dropped our cup on the floor, I sent him straight to the table to get us another handle, and he returned with a handle of Smirnoff, "You've got to hold it, you're the one with boobs."

"You're lucky you've got me to hold onto it then," I said, filling us another cup before tucking the Smirnoff bottle under my arm. It wasn't long until I hid the bottle, and CJ and I found ourselves in our own corner of the party. Under the influence of nothing but the straight alcohol we had drank the entire night, we were tucked back into a slightly-quieter area of the hallway.

"I've missed you, Kaitlyn, I really have," CJ admitted.

"I wouldn't know, you didn't talk to me for so long CJ. There was the summer, and then the two months of you still not talking to me when we got back to school. You didn't even open my snapchats," I bit my lip.

"You don't know how hard it was for me, it was so hard not to talk to you-" CJ reached out and took my hands in his.

"No CJ! I don't know!" I cut him off, "You dropped off of the face of the earth for six months with no explanation!"

"I wish I could tell you, I really do, but I can't."

"CJ, I'm your best fucking friend, you can tell me absolutely anything," I insisted, holding his hands tighter, "Whatever it is, I promise I can handle it, I'm not going to judge you-"

"Kaitlyn, you're the best friend I've ever had, and I will tell you, I promise, I will tell you," CJ let go of my hands and gently put his hands on the side of my face, leaning forward and kissing my forehead.

"You need to tell me CJ, we can't go from being best friends, to not talking, and then to being friends again with no explanation for the summer of silence," I insisted.

"I will tell you, I promise, but now is not the time, it's not the time."

I looked up at CJ through my false lashes, and a moment of shock, I saw that there were tears in his eyes, "CJ..."

"When the time is right, I'll tell you. Promise," CJ blinked quickly, trying to hold back the tears welling in his eyes.

"Pinky swear?" I held out a pinky.

"Pinky swear," CJ said, looping his pinky with mine and then pulling me in close. We stood there for a while, hugging, until CJ kissed my forehead again, "Let's go get burritos."

After gathering the troops, a bunch of us headed to one of the infamous drunk food places on campus.

"What do you want? Giant burrito?" CJ asked me, turning around from where he stood in front of me in line.

I nodded, the chatter of a line of drunk people awaiting burritos was scattered all around me.

"I got you," CJ winked at me as he ordered two giant chicken burritos, and once our food was ready, we trooped back to Alex's house, arm-in-arm. I might have been braving ice-covered streets in high heels, but with how tightly CJ kept his arm grasped around mine, I didn't think preventing me from slipping was his only motivation.

I hadn't ever seen CJ cry before, and I had the distinct sensation that something was brewing beneath the surface, and it began with his silence over the summer....

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tuesday, February 3rd

I woke up to two missed calls from my manager, and did my good deed of the day by picking up a shift after someone didn't show in the morning. I folded jeans until 5pm, which was conveniently when CJ got done with a private ballroom lesson. Our coaches' studio was right across the street from the mall, and CJ needed my MCard to swipe Alison into the gym to practice after, so he offered to pick me up from work to get my school ID.

When I hopped into CJ's car, fresh from five hours at A&F,  he put an arm around me, greeting me with a hug, not exactly the normal greeting.

I went on excitedly to tell him how my store was hooking me up with a full time position post-graduation, allowing myself to relax in knowing where my salary would be coming from.

CJ told me about how his day had been crappy aside from lesson, and then he came to the sentence that made my heart stop:

"And seeing you has made my day better."

"Awh, CJ, glad to help," I smiled sweetly, but inwardly I cringed.

It didn't worry me that he said it, it worried me that he felt it.

Yes, seeing my best friends could frequently make my day, but I had just seen CJ the day before. We had a max of 20 minutes from the mall to my house, it wasn't like we had big plans to hang out. As crappy as his day had been, he had been texting me all day long, it wasn't like we hadn't talked all day and loads to catch up on.

When we hugged goodbye 20 minutes later, I knew I was in trouble. I stood on my porch and watched CJ drive away to practice, realizing that I was watching CJ fall for me. I stared out at the snow covered landscape of Lawrence Street: my feelings for him may be buried as deep as the foot of snow currently covering Ann Arbor, but his feelings were like the first blades of grass when the snow melts at the end of a long winter.

Another coat of snow was falling when I left my ballroom lesson five hours later. Lesson had been pleasantly refreshing: Joey and I had learned a lot, we had a great personal chat with our coaches, and Joey and I had bonded on our drive home. It was one of those days when dance was cleansing, for the mind, body, and spirit.

CJ insisted on dropping my MCard off that night, in case he didn't wake up to meet me for free bagels and coffee the next day, which I needed my school ID to get.

"Can I bother you for like five minutes?" CJ said, after producing my MCard from his wallet.

"Yeah, sure," I said, nodding for him to follow me into the house.

We sat down at the desk Whitney and I shared. I told him about lesson and I told him about the two heart-to-hearts Joey and I had had the past two days, "I think the inevitability of graduation is making us all a little crazy."

"It's making me a little crazy, that's for sure. I didn't have a problem leaving after undergrad, but its going to be harder to leave here, even after less time. I'm more attached to the ballroom team, I'm more attached to the people-"

He wasn't attached to the people in plural: he was attached to me, CJ didn't have other friends.

Then our conversation took a turn, "Sarah and I haven't talked in four days, and that makes me stress about everything more."

I could feel CJ's tension level rise as he said the words, "Have you tried talking to her at all?"

"I just get one-word responses. I don't know how to instigate a conversation at this point."

"If you don't mind me asking," I began tentatively, "What's going to happen when you tell her that you and I have been hanging out these past few weeks?"

"I don't even know," CJ looked me right in the eyes, "I don't even know if I care at this point."

I nodded, running a hand through my hair.

"You're really my only friend here, my only true friend at this point," CJ admitted, "Last year I had Yev too, but he's been distant. Last semester we were cool but this semester he's just been doing his own thing. Even over the summer, I didn't talk to him either, and he only text me once like 'Hey man, whats up,' and you texted me a bunch of times-"

"Excuse me, I texted you twice."

"I swear it was more than that."

"Do you want me to pull them up?" I raised my eyebrows, reaching for my phone.

"No, don't-" CJ insisted.

"There was the first text when I was on the bus and 'Marry Me' came on-"

"Can we not talk about that text, please?"

I looked up from my phone. There were tears in CJs eyes.

"Ok," I said quickly, taken aback by CJ's response.

"I just can't think about that right now, I really can't," CJ leaned his back in the chair, his eyes bright red, "The timing of that text..."

"I'm not speaking," I said softly.

A lot of unspoken things passed between us in those moments, as a few tears escaped CJ's eyes. Out of the corner of my dry eye, I glimpsed the single red rose from CJ on my desk, Just to the side of it, the candle I had made with Philip over the summer was burning, filling the room with the scents of Hawaiian lei, yuzu, and gogi berry. The irony of the pairing of things-from-boys wasn't lost on me.

"I'm sorry," I said delicately.

"No, I'm sorry," CJ wiped his eyes on his shirted and sighed, "Thanks for listening."

"Anytime," I smiled.

"I should go," CJ gave me a watery smile, and we both stood up. CJ pulled me close and we hugged.

"The second text was about food," I muttered.

We broke apart and CJ smiled, "I remember that one too."

He wiped his eyes again and we chatted lightly as CJ got his coat and I walked him out.

"You're the best," CJ hugged me again at the door. Our hug lingered, neither of us ready to let go for a while.

"See you tomorrow for bagels?"

"Of course," CJ nodded.

"Goodnight, CJ."

"Goodnight, Kaitlyn."

Was this the snow melting at the end of winter, not to be seen again for many months, or was this simply a reprieve before the next snowfall?

Thursday, January 29th- Monday, Febrary 2nd


Two bottles of wine lay discarded on the floor, and two empty mason jars sat on the coffee table. The warmth that came with being wine drunk was the reason that I found myself entwined with CJ on the couch. The thought that kept gnawing at me as I felt CJ's hand trail around my thigh was that maybe it wasn't just the wine. If the CJ and Kaitlyn of last year would be on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother on a Thursday night, CJ would have had his arm around me, and I would have my head on his shoulder if I was getting sleepy.

But this was the new CJ and Kaitlyn, friendship heightened by the fact that 1. CJ had admitted to having feelings for me and 2. CJ and Sarah were not talking, which put me at the top of his priority list. The hour was growing later, and my roommates had already returned from their Thursday bar adventures to find us cuddled up underneath a blanket on the couch. None of them batted an eyelash, except for Emily, the only roommate not to live in the house last year. Her and her boyfriend Tyler gave us a curious look when they arrived, and I was glad we had the blanket to disguise that underneath we were holding hands. Not just holding hands like we would do while dancing, like fingers wound around each other's. We were also not just holding hands, our legs were wrapped up like we were playing an elaborate game of twister where the goal was to have the most contact with the other person. CJ's arm was around my leg, and his hand kept exploring from my ankle to my upper thigh. My free arm was wrapped around his waist, where it settled on the exposed bit of skin between the waistband of his jeans and the folds of his t-shirt.

If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was turn his head to the left and our lips would have met.


All six of my roommates had left for the bars again, which left only CJ and I alone in the house. Out of the entire apartment, we were both laying on my twin bed. Sam Smith's album was playing from my laptop which was abandoned on the floor in favor of the two of us laying inches across from each other. We were talking and laughing and occasionally wrestling. In a moment where the entire empty house was filled with laughter, CJ had tried to throw me over the edge of the bed, only to end up on the floor with me. We were crumpled on the ground, and I felt my abs clench with laughter. I had my best friend back.

But there was something about our physical proximity that made it feel like we couldn't just call each other best friends. We were studying each other, both in the words we were saying, and with gazes that couldn't look anywhere else than right into the other's eyes. If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was lean three inches forward and our lips would have met.


"Do you guys need a moment? I can go to the bathroom, or something?" Cassie said with a teasing grin.

CJ and I were sitting across his kitchen table from our friend Cassie. It was the infamous ballroom Guys and Girls Night, and Cassie and I had stopped in at Girl's Night just long enough to shove three bottles of wine in my purse and grab pizza and cookies. Armed with food and drink, we took a few block's walk to CJ's house to hang out before the entire team got together for the real festivities at the end.

You know when a boy had a crush on your in elementary school and he would constantly be mean to you to hide his affection? That was CJ and I throwing insults at each other which eventually resulted in CJ biting my arm, trying to shove my lipstick out of my hands as I slicked a coat of deep plum on my lips when we got ready to go to the party, and me shoving a drunk CJ backwards out of his chair and onto the floor.

We returned to the party just in time for me to hop in on leaning the dance that the girls did when the guys would join us. A few minutes later, the guys trooped down the street to the ballroom house and the girls gathered on the lawn and I found myself in the front row to perform our racy dance routine to Buttons by The Pussycat Dolls that involved unbuttoning a shirt. The guys all sang I Want It That Way by The Backstreet Boys, and at the end of the routine, each guy produced a red carnation from behind his back. A nervous newcomer reached out and gave me his carnation, and I blew him a kiss in thanks.

I found CJ sitting on the porch, polishing off a bottle of wine, "Why did you guys use those shirts if you didn't actually take them off?"

"I don't know, I didn't do the choreo," I shrugged, pulling my white A&F button down tighter over my gold dress in the chill of the January evening, "If I did the choreo for this thing, it would be so much sexier."

"You can't use yourself and sexy in the same sentence," CJ teased, his familiar smile spreading across his entire face.

"You are such a little bitch!"

"Do something sexy with that shirt, I bet you can't."

"CJ!" I giggled, crossing my arms firmly across my chest as CJ wrapped his legs around mine and pulled me closer. When he reached for my hand, he grabbed the one that clutched my carnation and accidentally popped off the top of the flower, "YOU BROKE MY FLOWER!"

I was conscious of the people going into and out of the party who were passing us on the porch as we stood closer than any pair of friends should.

A little while later, we had left the cold and parted ways to enjoy the many offerings of ballroom parties, but it wasn't long until I felt a hand wrap around my waist and I found myself at CJ's side once again.

"Let's go dance," I said with a tempting smile, and without even finishing his conversation, he pulled me onto the dance floor.

Even with the small amount of room that we had, he spun me around, and following him felt as natural as breathing. If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was lean down as he dipped me and our lips would have met.


I was sitting at my desk, watching the snow come down in endless sheets as I saw CJ's familiar car pull up in front. He had offered to drive me to work in the current snowstorm so I didn't have to take the bus. Really, I knew he was 1. still trying to make up for the summer of not talking to me or 2. wanted an excuse to see me.

When I let him in the door, my heart stopped a little bit.

"Sorry for breaking your flower last night," CJ held out a single red rose.

"CJ, you didn't have to," I cocked my head, studying him.

He shrugged simply, and our eyes met.

"Thank you," I smiled.

One shift of work and 3/4 of the super bowl later, CJ and I left a party together to do homework, which was interrupted by the announcement of a snow day tomorrow. We cracked open a couple beers a second later, and popped on How I Met Your Mother after finishing our homework.  Just like Thursday, we were snuggled under a blanket. Unlike Thursday, we cuddled up in a way that was more friendly, less thigh-touching this time.

When drowsiness began to overtake us, CJ followed me to my room, finishing our conversation as I pulled back my bed.

If there was a moment to kiss me, all he would have needed to do was pull me into him, the red rose glowing bright in his peripheral vision, and our lips would have met.


The floor boards were creaking. I sat bolt upright in bed just in time to see CJ preparing to strike with a pillow in hand.

"Nice try," I smiled sleepily, reaching around for my glasses on the bedside table and watched CJ's form come into focus. His wavy black hair was sticking up in the untidy way it did when whenever he just woke up.

My dryer was broken. My laundry had been piling up for the past few weeks and today CJ and I decided we were going to use our snow day for laundry day. After I showered and made us a breakfast of fried eggs, turkey bacon, and spinach on honey wheat bagels, I grabbed my bags of dirty clothes and we went back to CJ's house.

Unfortunately for us, the foot of snow that had been dumped upon us last night was completely covering the door to CJ's basement. CJ showered as I began some homework and we headed to the laundromat, CJ armed with an entire semester's worth of dirty clothes and me with my two A&F bags worth of laundry.

"Can you read over this cover letter for me?" CJ asked me when we got all of our laundry going, "I actually give a shit about this job and you can write."

"Let me see it," I said and CJ slid his laptop across the table to me, "Oh God CJ, this is really bad, you suck at writing."

"Help me, history major," CJ gave me a pleading smile.

I read it over again, "Can I just rewrite the entire thing?"

"Yes, please! Go to town!"

And as the washers spun behind us, I rewrote the cover letter, occasionally asking CJ to clarify what he was trying to say.

Twenty four minutes later when we went to go switch our laundry to the dryers, I put on a concluding sentence, "Done."

CJ slid over onto the bench next to me, putting his arm across my shoulders, and reading, "That's so much better than mine."

I raised an eyebrow, "You're welcome."

"Thank you, Kaitlyn, you're the best," CJ put his other arm around me and squeezed me tight.

"If you get an interview for this job, I take full credit," I smirked.

There was something about having that one guy friend who you give no shits about. And by give no shits about, I mean I didn't care that he was across the table from me as I folded my underwear. He was that friend who I didn't care if I popped my retainers in in front of before we went to bed. This morning I had walked out of my bedroom wearing my pjs and no bra and didn't care (not completely true but my bathrobe was in the bathroom so I had no choice). Twice since the rejuvenation of our friendship had CJ walked out of the bathroom in nothing but a towel in front of me. Our own nonchalantness seemed to fit our accidental friendship.

"Let's go do work back at my house," CJ said as we finished folding our laundry, "You made breakfast, so I'll make dinner."

"Deal," I smiled.

CJ set to work in the kitchen while I played all of the music from my iTunes that I had wanted to share with him for the past eight months of not talking. When we finished eating, we set to work getting our homework done. Sitting across from each other at the kitchen table, I let the magnitude of the past few days sink in: the past two days had been back to friend-status, but the two before that... CJ seemed to put a toe over the line. Thursday was the day that scared me: according to my roommate Lindsey, Emily's boy toy, Tyler, had said to them, "I didn't know Kaitlyn had a boyfriend." after seeing CJ and I together. And then Saturday at the ballroom party, one of my friends had asked me if CJ was single.

I chucked the book I was supposed to be reading down on the table and yanked my laptop toward me. In a flurry of anguish, I opened blogger and began to write.

"I think it's getting colder in here," CJ said a bit later.

I shrugged, "I'm fine," CJ had given me a blanket to warm up for him while he was cooking and I was still wrapped up in it, "Do you want the blanket?"

"Now I feel bad taking it away from you," CJ sighed.

"You could go get another blanket," I nodded my head toward his bedroom.

"But that's so far," CJ rolled his eyes, "Better idea," CJ pulled his chair over to my side of the table and I have never closed out of the blogger tab so fast in my entire life.

When I let CJ have some of the blanket, I grudgingly picked up my textbook and began to read; my thoughts flying so far from the content of "The Beginnings of Big Business."

I kept asking myself the same question: we might be just friends today, but what would tomorrow bring?