Friday, July 3, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"I've had six drinks you need to get on my level girl!"

"CJ, it's a Wednesday night, I don't want to die."

"I'm going to buy you so many drinks," CJ had a dorky smile on his face.

"Well if you're buying," I winked and CJ winked back.

I had invited Alex out to karaoke with my roommates and I the day before. When we both declined a slightly awkward group text to hang out with one of our underage friends, CJ snap chatted me asking what I was up to tonight. I politely extended CJ an invite, and Alex forced him to join us. 

Alex was talking to my roommates and CJ had slid into the booth next to me. There was something disturbingly familiar about our physical proximity, and when we found ourselves at the less-crowded bar at the Blue Leprechaun, it could have been January: 

Once upon a January night, my roommates went to Blue Lep to meet up with Alex and his roommates. My best friend Sarah was in town and CJ surprised us by coming out with Alex.

"I'm buying you a drink," CJ had touched my arm, and when we made our way to the downstairs bar, he got us a round of tequila shots and mixed drinks. As we did our shots, CJ seemed to find every excuse to lean in closer to me, to touch my hair, or put a hand on my waist. 

While CJ was flirting with me at the bar, Alex was telling Sarah (who would later tell me and I would run in circles around the bathroom panicking) what CJ told him earlier: "Things are really bad with Sarah right now, make sure nothing happens with Kaitlyn tonight."

Those words would kick off the whirlwind of the semester.

In April, we were standing at the exact same spot at the bar, waiting on a round of Jager bombs with Alex. I felt an arm snake around my waist and I didn't know how to feel about it. CJ was leaving the next day to see Sarah, he shouldn't have his arms around the one girl he had a history with. CJ put in another order with the bartender and the three of us barely finished our drinks before two more shots were in front of CJ and I, and CJ handed me a beer. 

"I learned open tango in lesson today," CJ burst out, "I've got to show you! Alex, watch the drinks," CJ's hand went from waist to take my hand.

Luckily, mostly everyone at the bar was upstairs for karaoke so we only had to weave the open tango around the empty high-top tables. We would end up ballroom dancing at the bar...

It was an uncommonly cold April night, the temperature had dipped below freezing. The similarities between the January night at Blue Lep and the current one were intensified by the fact that I had to wear my parka. But there was on major difference: in January, CJ didn't run out of the bar to take a phone call from Sarah.

An hour later, I grabbed my parka and Alex and I went on a mission to find CJ. We cornered him in a parking lot. Literally cornered him between a car and the building next to it, giving him no room to run away from us, only to hang up the phone and face the wrath of his two best friends.

"What are you doing?" I shouted the second he hung up the phone, "This could actually be your last time out with us. Ever. And you're not even going to hang out with us?"

"Seriously dude. I wanted you to come to hang out with us and you blow us off?" Alex added.

"I'm sorry-"

"CJ, you're going to regret going to MIT," I spat out the words that had been on the edge of my tongue all week.

Sarah had bought CJ the plane tickets to compete with her at MIT's competition this upcoming weekend. Sarah and him had broken up this past Sunday and he was supposed to leave tomorrow. 

"Kaitlyn please, I don't want to hear it-"

"No," I cut him off, "You don't want to hear it but you need to," I looked at Alex, who gave me a nod to continue, "You've got friends here, and you don't have long with us. You're completely throwing us away. And this weekend, of any weekend, we're all doing some really cool stuff. Things are going to go badly with Sarah, like they have for months now. We're all going to have an awesome weekend and you're going to regret not being able to have an awesome weekend with us. You don't want to hear this, because I'm right and you know it."

"I know, I know it's going to be bad and I would really rather be here, but-"

"But what, CJ?" I looked at him earnestly.

CJ couldn't answer me. 

"And if you can't even give me an answer, that's saying a lot," I  shrugged.

At that, Alex took over, telling him that his relationship with Sarah was toxic and that as a friend it was taxing to deal with him dealing with her. 

It was a parking lot intervention. Any romantic feelings I had once had for CJ had long since disappeared. But at the end of the day, I cared about him as a friend and for some reason I couldn't shake that. As a friend, I hated watching him bend to Sarah's damaging will. But I couldn't force him to do anything.

I wasn't Sarah.

I wasn't going to manipulate him, to make him see reason, to make him live his life with only certain people in it. I could if I wanted to, it would be easy, he was vulnerable. But I couldn't do that and still be able to lay my head down on my pillow at night. I wasn't going to try and tell him who he is.

I wasn't Sarah.

History can repeat itself. The point of history, however, is to learn from the mistakes of the past, so, when in a similar situation, one can choose a different course of action.

As I watched CJ head home, leaving his friends behind, I realized he was just trying to go back in time to when things were good with Sarah. History may repeat itself, but there is no way to go back in time. History had happened between January and April, and if CJ ignored those lessons, he would simply make the same mistakes.

But they were his mistakes to make.

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