I just need to say this to anyone because I’m so tired of keeping it inside. You’ll never see it but if you did, you’d know.
I first spoke to you a long time ago, whilst sat on the floor counting stock; I thought I recognised you, but it was probably my subconsciousnesses shy way of starting the conversation. I looked forward to those hour-long chats like nothing else. Other people anticipate Fridays, or Saturday’s, but in my world it was always Wednesday’s.
You were a one-off, at least for me, and I think you probably knew that I thought that – you would’ve been blind not to – but you never treated it as something to be proud of, or brag about because it just wasn’t who you were. I think you were more bewildered that I liked you, and I really did. All those conversations about nonsense, and life, and my disastrous relationships; the notes we exchanged in that little room; the electric spark that I don’t know but I think you felt. You have no idea, none, how hard it was to be with you in the gloom of that dead-end badger sett corridor and not touch you. I was always hopeless with men, but never with you; it was always a comfortable friendship, two idiots passing time talking about nonsense, with an unacknowledged undertone.
I think there was something there, because I went on holiday with another man, and you very clearly didn’t like it, though it was all unspoken but for, ‘You know why’. I think there was something there because you hurt me, and you were more sorry than I’d seen anyone be, though the mutual pain and sorrow was diffused by the screech of tyres and loss of the water tank which I couldn’t do anything but laugh at. I never knew you had a girlfriend; you never mentioned it and you should have, because you must have known how I felt. Everyone else did. I clearly should have known you had someone, and I probably did deep down, but it was never mentioned until it needed to be out in the open. You told me in person like a proper gentleman; you faced the upset, anger and pain because that’s who you were, and I tell myself that it was also because you cared.
You’re married with a child now, and I’m happy that you’re happy, which is why I never seek social media friendship with you. But it makes me sad sometimes too. The reality of unrequited love is not as romantic as the idea. I do think of you, more often than I should, because every so often I like to torture myself, and today is one of those days. I wonder if you ever think of me at all. If you do, I hope it’s a good memory of a daft friendship. You have no idea that you were, and are, the man I always come back to; the benchmark against which other men are measured. You were kind, and decent, and I never had to be anything other than myself with you. Unfortunately I still haven’t met anyone else that I can say the same about, so I always return to you. I saw you a few years ago at your work. You knew I was there and you stayed around to talk to me. We had an awkward conversation which touched on my latest relationship, as though the running theme of our old chats had never gone away. I don’t know if I told you he was the guy I went on holiday with way back when, and you were absolutely right. I spent three and a half years with him and he destroyed my confidence, my happiness and made me want to die. Why don’t you have a twin, or a clone? You’ve made it hard for me, because I know good, decent men exist, but I never meet them, and it’s not that I have high expectations, or want them all to be you, they’re just never very nice to me.
For me, you’ve become a on-a-pedestal, rose-tinted version of the you I used to know, which to be honest is not that far from the real man. However much I’d have never made you happy, as you certainly are now, it never happened, and so you’re always the person I loved but never had. I know you’re there, and though I’ll never seek you out, I hope that if you ever find yourself single, you’ll look for me; it’s been over a decade but I think it would probably feel like yesterday. There’ll always be a little flame in me, burning for you.
Greg the Gardener. Freshly cut grass and a Beatles hair cut, in another life.