When we figured out, sometime after 2:30am, that your car had gotten towed, I didn’t hesitate at all: I would help you get your car back that night if it were possible. In retrospect, it may have seemed like I was just being polite or nice, but I think I was being purposeful—I have a habit of trying to impress people I like with favors or, at times (albeit unproudly), with materialism. I hate it because it reminds me of the way I understood my parents’ love for me—through unconditional favors and obligatory payments in goods. I want to believe that there are more genuine and personal ways of showing people that you care.

I suppose, however, that staying out until 4:30am to unsuccessfully get your car back from a tow lot demonstrates some sort of care… though I’m pretty sure your interpretation of “I’m a nice guy who you should take an interest in” might’ve been “Gee, he’s being really nice about this.” And that’s that.

Over the next few days, at least two of my friends noticed, at the very least, the appearance of something going on. We were seen together a lot—chatting, having drinks, etc. I think had we been anyone else, this would’ve read to others that we were simply two friends. The context clues that pushed their suspicions to the next level: we barely knew each other and all of the sudden we were hanging out; there was a lot of giggling; and we were the only two gay guys left at our summer work. 1+1= too obvious, according to them.

And their flags raised my own; things didn’t quite add up to me. It was as if you were vibing with my attempts to be impress you—and you were returning the attention: you were touchy. You called. You found ways for it to be just you and me. Though you hadn’t really known me too well, you always seemed open—even eager for some time—to hang out. I knew you were dating someone, but why, then, would he make up such a small part of your time during the last part of the summer? (A projection of mine, I’m sure: if I were dating someone, I’d be wanting to see them as much as possible.) Whether this extra attention was flirtatious or simply friendly, though, I couldn’t tell. I really couldn’t tell what your intentions were when, after seeing him for a bit, you called me at 11:45pm to call you when I got back to the hotel… and when I called you at 12:30am expecting you to want to hang out in a more public common space, you invited me to meet you in your room.

You’ve got to understand how that might’ve read to me. Especially in the moments afterward, when tipsily, I took the elevator to your floor, knocked on your door, you said hey, and then motioned me to sit on your bed. And influenced by too many mojitos, jack and cokes, and beers, I decided to get touchy-feely myself and lean on your leg as we talked. And you didn’t shake me off or even attempt to create distance. For almost an hour. Maybe this was a projection on your part—people get touchy-feely when they’ve had a few to drink, and it means nothing. The projection on my part: I only get close if I want to be close. It’s possible that we were both reading the situation two completely different ways. It’s also possible that we were both in the same page but didn’t do anything about it. It was all so uncertain.

Eventually, closer to 2:30am again, I went to my own room, half-kicking myself that nothing happened, half-lauding myself for respecting your boundaries.

And no sooner than I had signed online to check my email did I receive a g-chat message from you. I, apparently, in some pure coincidence (I swear), had left my phone in your room. You were going to bring it to my room. It was as if I were granted some sort of second opportunity to redeem myself, assert my control over the situation, get my balls in check, and make a move.

You knocked on my door. You closed the door behind you. (You could’ve just handed me the phone at the door.) You came inside for a bit. We chatted. You handed me my phone. We chatted. You left.

Nothing. And again, I found myself half-kicking myself that nothing happened, half-lauding myself for respecting your boundaries.

And the next morning, we said goodbye. Just as uncertainly—almost as unceremoniously—as things began.

Only you left an opening. You said you had never been to the Bay Area before. And I was moving there. You had some time before your next big venture. You would come visit.

Yes! I offered. That would be so much fun, I thought, half-knowing that promises to visit were riddled with the hassle and unpredictability of planning and expenses.

But you pulled through. About two weeks ago, you booked your tickets. You’re staying for six nights. And I’m going to be excited to see you.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m going to pretend nothing ever happened; I’m going to start from scratch. Because who am I to say I even really knew you in those last few days of summer? Because what else can I expect from a little visit? Because, last I heard, you were still very much interested in your other male friend. Because I was, at the most, on the periphery of the picture to begin with, and over the course of the month and a half between our goodbye and your visit, I could—heck, you could—fade out past the picture frame and into, really, nothingness. You were a great new friend accelerating your way to new labels, but time and distance have put the brakes on. When we see each other in a month, maybe the propellant will resurface; maybe there will be no chemistry at all.

In the end, I’ve decided that sparks—uncertain as they may be—are exactly as they are in science— in-the-moment flashes, completely temporary and minute in the scheme of things. Though I still think fondly of past flirtations because they’re fun and they’re with fun people and they’re definitely worth writing about, the moment has passed. And that, thank goodness, is something I can be certain about.

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