You will be apart for months for the first time in years when you go away to separate colleges. There won’t be as much constant communication as you both adapt to your new lives on opposite ends of the state, but you’ll think about her often. She’s been your best friend since the beginning of high school, since after you dated for a few weeks freshman year and then reverted back to friendship at your behest. Somehow you became closer after that. Thinking back on it, you don’t know exactly why you broke things off. It was probably for stupid reasons or no reason at all. Of course you didn’t realize how much she meant to you in a romantic sense until she picked up a new boyfriend later that year, with whom she stayed the entire way through high school. They aren’t precisely together when you travel with friends to visit Sara and the other friends she goes to school with, but they aren’t completely done, either, you don’t think.
It’s two weeks ‘til Christmas, but finals are coming so the holiday celebrations have to start early. The first time you will see Sara since August is when she walks into a party with some girls from her floor close behind. They are all dressed vaguely sluttily and wearing Santa hats. You’re not sure if it’s the fact you haven’t seen her in months, that she’s been telling you about leaving her boyfriend, or both, but you can’t believe how pretty she looks. When she smiles at you, you almost vomit. When she hugs you, you don’t want it to end.
The two of you will catch up on a couch while drinking jungle juice and anything else you can get your hands on. There’s nothing you want more than to kiss her, but you will never try to do so, because a friendship sustained is better than one damaged by a non-mutual attraction. You’d rather have her in your life as a friend than not have her in your life at all, you will think.
You will go into the kitchen to do a group shot and then you will go into the bathroom. When you walk out she will grab your hand and lead you into a bedroom where she initiates an aggressive makeout session that turns into a drunken grope-fest. It will last until someone else walks into the room and starts hooting and hollering and laughing because he has never seen two people making out before, apparently.
You will leave the room only to return moments later. This time she will push you onto the bed. You won’t know if she’s planned this or if it’s spontaneous, or if you could easily be anyone else, but you will decide not to dwell on it and live in the moment.
She takes you back to her dorm. You hold her hand on the way there and you’re already envisioning what your life will be like with her. You’ll wonder how you never knew how badly you’ve wanted this.
In her room, on her twin bed, you will both gradually disrobe while kissing and feeling each other. While you’re on top of her she will make eye contact and say, “Should we?” You will ask her what she thinks. She will contemplate briefly and then say, “Let’s do it.”
She will fall asleep soundly almost immediately after, her head resting in the crook of your neck. Her hair smells nice. She smells nice. You want to be in bed with her always. She is even pretty when she sleeps. You will feel vaguely creepy for watching her, but you will be far too excited to fall asleep. Your life as you know it may have just changed, probably for the better, you will think.
The next morning you will wake early and she will walk you downstairs. You will kiss goodbye after a brief conversation about seeing her again before you leave the next day.
You will walk the two miles back to your friend’s apartment, overflowing with joy and fighting the urge to start skipping.
You will buy a dozen donuts and coffee for your friends. You will be greeted with congratulations and a unanimous “it’s about time” from them. They will also appreciate the crullers and caffeine.
That night Sara will decide not to go out. She will say she’d gotten too drunk the night before and is still struggling—that maybe the two of you can have breakfast before you leave the next day.
The next morning she will tell you her ex or pseudo-ex or whatever the f**k he is is coming to visit and she needs to see him. You will travel home despondent in the back seat of your friend’s car, your Christmas spirit suitably dimmed.
You will not speak of the sex for a while. This will hurt you but you’ll move on. At least you got to try it once, you will think.
Sara will engage in a series of relationships after ending things officially with the boyfriend. She will have one long-term relationship that will last most of her college years. Then the next man will become your friend and the person she will marry.
Eventually, at a friend’s wedding, Sara will bring it up. She will tell you that by having sex with her, you liberated her from the ex—that you made her realize that there was more out there. More to explore. More to experience. More fun. More beauty. More guys.
You will wonder if you will ever stop wondering why you didn’t seem to her like you would be enough.