From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

Friends for Life

Tim left for college on a Saturday and I on a Sunday. It would be the first time we had ever been apart over the course of our high-school friendship. Ours was more than a normal boy/girl friendship, though. Our close connection was the envy of others. I was in awe of his amazing personality, his hilarious jokes and his little-boy looks. He could read my mind, finish my sentences and bring me to hysterical laughter with only a look. We adored each other. As our last summer together approached, our bond only grew.

The summer started off slowly, with Tim trying to get my mind off the jerk I now refer to as my ex-boyfriend and a total waste of my time. Tim was dating one of my close friends and had been for a couple of months. I had to sit by and watch as she ridiculed him, made a joke of him in front of our friends, and eventually made him cry when she finally ended it. She broke my best friend’s heart, and I ached with him.

We spent hours talking on the phone late at night, comforting each other, giving each other advice and worrying about college. Over the rest of the summer, both of us were single, so we spent all of our time together. Late at night after work, we would meet at cafés and just talk for hours. We grew even closer that summer. I only wondered why our friendship had to get so close now, as we were both preparing to leave for college.

As the time approached when we would have to say good-bye, we went shopping together for school supplies and planned our first rendezvous as college students for a month after we were both at school.

As I left that Saturday morning to take him to school, I was extremely nervous, my stomach full of knots. I kept wondering what was wrong with me during the three-hour car ride. Of course I was going to miss him, but this was not a sad feeling—this was nervousness. As we finished packing him into his tiny room and making it feel like some semblance of home, it hit me—and it hit me hard. I was in love with this guy! And it wasn’t the friendship kind of love that I had felt for him throughout high school; it was something much deeper. I felt helpless. I had finally realized my true feelings for my best friend when it was too late. Tears filled my eyes as I sat on his springy, steel bed. I said good-bye to my best friend—and the love of my life—wondering if we were really going to meet in a month as planned.

That night at home as I packed my stuff I cried, scared that things would never be the same. We were both going to have our separate lives and would probably barely think of each other. Just then the phone rang, and as I wiped my tears and tried to utter a quiet hello, the voice on the other end let me know everything was going to be okay. It was Tim. Before even saying hello he blurted out, “Tina, we are going to have to make that rendezvous earlier than I thought. How about tonight?”

I was grinning like crazy as I practically hung up on him, jumped in my car without directions and headed for his school. How I got there in such a short time (an hour and forty-five minutes) is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the second I got there, I hugged him and told him I loved him. I had actually done that numerous times before, but this time he pulled away from my embrace, looked into my eyes, told me he loved me, too—and then kissed me. It was a kiss that seemed to contain months, even years, worth of love for each other.

When I left for school the next morning, I had Tim on my mind and in my heart. As I picked up my wallet to get money out to pay for a Coke, a tiny piece of paper fell out. It was from Tim and contained words that touch my heart to this day and still make me smile. “Tina, I am so mad at myself for waiting to tell you . . . I love you!” My eyes welled up with tears, and I felt truly happy and at ease with our situation.

I still keep that note from Tim, and we continue to share a remarkable friendship and always will. Only these days we also share much more—three beautiful children and the same last name.

Tina Leeds

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