The Day We Met
This happened during one crazy day in 2019 when I spent time with someone I’d had a crush on for a long time. Let’s call him Jay.
Jay and I spent the past two days together, and our chemistry was enough to set the town on fire. So much, that at one point, the two of us were hanging out in a museum and I was leaning in towards him to share an inside joke when a female worker walked by us and asked us to behave ourselves as there were CCTV cameras all around.
We had been friends for several years, but this was the first time we had met. I was in a town near his for some work, and Jay had taken a holiday and traveled more than 500 kilometers just to meet me.
Spending time with Jay was full of surprises. He made me laugh at unexpected moments. We roamed around the city, had food at the most exotic cafes, and spent one evening at the beach, watching the waves crash on the shore.
Each moment I spent with him made me wish I could extend it, to make it somehow last longer. I wanted to hear his voice, lose myself at the spark in his eyes, and press my body against his at the slightest pretext — as if this was a way he would somehow know how I felt about him.
There was no denying it. I was insanely attracted to Jay.
And right then, sitting at the beach and watching the silver moon reflected in the choppy waters, I wanted nothing more than to kiss him, hug him, and make some wild, crazy memories of the time we first met.
On the day he was supposed to leave the city (our third day together), I decided enough was enough. Being a woman, I couldn’t outright ask him if he was interested in me, so I started dropping hints.
We ran out of places in which to spend time. It was a humid August afternoon, and since almost every site outside would be too unbearably hot for us to be comfortable, (hint one) I suggested that we hang out in his hotel room.
If you are from a country like India, you would know that a young, unmarried man and woman checking into a hotel is a big deal for the hotel staff. There was a considerable uproar at the reception, most of it in the local language, Tamil (the city we were in was called Chennai — the capital of Tamil Nadu).
I gathered that Jay made some sort of agreement with the receptionist so that if anybody came to check in on us, I would say I am his ‘local guardian’ (I know, right!) who had come to pick him up and drop him at the airport. We had his bags to prove his story, just in case.
And after wasting almost an hour haggling with the hotel staff, finally, we headed towards his room.
It smelled strongly of cigarettes, and he suggested that we leave the door open, in case somebody from the hotel decided to check in on us.
This was unacceptable, given the kind of ideas I had.
(Hint two) Trying my best to sound as casual as I could, I refused, saying it would give us some privacy if we closed the door.
We started watching some stand-up comedy on his computer. It was about a man who liked to walk around topless rambling on about something I had absolutely no interest in. All I could think of was how close Jay was to me, and if I decided to move even an inch closer, our skin would touch.
The thought was getting to my head. It was too much to take. I couldn’t help myself.
Under the pretext of getting a better look at the computer screen, (hint three) I moved closer towards him.
Our wrists touched.
The electricity that ran through my body at that moment made me shiver with anticipation.
And yet, Jay was laughing at the jokes. I kept looking at his lips, wondering how it would feel to touch them, to kiss them. I bit mine in hopeless expectation.
Thinking I would go crazy if we kept at this, I suggested we go out on the balcony for a smoke.
He obliged, and we walked out. We stood at opposite edges of the balcony facing each other, a cigarette in our hands.
Time was running out, and I was getting desperate. I liked him so much, it hurt. And yet, I couldn’t gather the courage to ask him if he wanted me too or if there were any way he would like for us to take this friendship forward.
(Hint four) I started laughing at his lamest jokes, my head falling on his shoulder at the slightest chance I could get.
Jay was firm. He was steadfast. He was unmoving in his resolve (to not touch me? Gah, what was this guy doing?).
We finished our cigarettes and came back inside the room. I glanced at my watch. There was still twenty minutes left before he had to check out. I calculated in my head, that even if nothing at all happened, at least there was still time enough for a kiss.
When he meant to play the stupid stand-up comedy again, (hint five) I put my hand on his to stop him. “Let’s talk instead,” I said, trying to make my voice husky and seductive.
Of course, he was immune to my charms. We started talking about excruciatingly boring topics again.
I was almost in tears when he said it was time to pack up and leave. All I could think of was how we would probably never meet again, and even if we did, it would be years hence.
At least I should get a goodbye hug. I deserved that much, didn’t I?
And yet, when I leaned in to embrace him, he extended his hand.
Can you believe it?
After spending three amazing days together, after crushing on this guy with every molecule in my body, after wishing over and over again that we could make out maybe once, Jay and I parted ways with JUST A HANDSHAKE.
I was crying with frustration on the way back to my room.
Fast forward a few weeks, and there I was in my hostel room, texting with Jay. I was alone and frustrated, and couldn’t help it. I told him about the days we had spent together and how it was so difficult for me to make the first move as I was a woman.
I told him that because he had ignored all my hints, I felt like he had rejected me.
What he said next took me by surprise. He told me that he was attracted to me too, but was terrified of making a move because he didn’t want to risk jeopardizing our friendship.
I just couldn’t believe it. “And all these days, I was sad you didn’t find me attractive,” I told him.
His reply was so sweet; it almost made me tear up. He said he had never connected with someone over a conversation as much as he had with me. He said even though we hadn’t kissed, he would have at least liked a hug, but couldn’t muster the courage for it as the person in the hotel’s reception was casting suspicious glances our way.
I smiled, not sure what to reply when his next message made me grin wider — “Next time we hang out, come out and say whatever is on your mind. I am terrible at taking a hint or any kind of initiative.”
This was difficult. Because, as a woman, I had never been very forthright in such matters or made the first move. But, if that’s what Jay needed, maybe I could do it.
“So, there is going to be a next time?” I teased.
“Of course. Don’t you want it?”
“I do, Jay.”
“Let’s plan something. Soon”
The Wait For The Next Meeting
I wish I had a third installment to this wonderful story of Jay and me to share, but just when we were planning where and how to meet, the pandemic was upon us, and all our plans were put on hold.
I am not sure when and how we will meet again (I am not even sure if there will be a meeting, given how uncertain things are these days).
If there is one thing I am sure of, it’s this: after saving my sanity from a toxic relationship and a hard heartbreak, and spending several years of believing I would never find another man, Jay came into my life like a ray of sunshine.
Yes, he had always been my friend, but after meeting him in person, I knew all the moments I spent grinning at my phone screen because of the way his texts made me feel were not for nothing.
There was a spark between Jay and me, and I couldn’t deny it any longer.
His rejection (or shall I call it his shyness?) gave me clarity about one thing: I like Jay a lot. The next time we meet, I am not going to waste any time being shy about who should make the first move.
Yes, I am an Indian woman, and despite what years of conditioning have taught me, the only person I’d hurt by not making a move on a guy I like is myself.
So, the next time we meet, I am going to show Jay I mean business.