Episode 2: The CityJune 2nd, 2013 by Selina
I will always remember a conversation I had with a good friend at a train station two years ago. We were both working in a huge, bustling city back then, and the lack of consistent social opportunities after university ended fused us into a strange friendship. We would meet at a coffee shop or fast food restaurant at a main station in downtown every two or three weeks and discuss our views on life.
We were both from the same religious community, we were both incredibly ambitious and high on the life as young professionals in a big city. We both loved country music and big juicy American hamburgers. And that’s where the similarities stopped.
He was a banker, I was a pharmacist. He bragged about his devilish side, I was insistent on living a physically innocent life. He taught me about what many guys think when they see women, and I taught him about looking beyond that.
His perspective was interesting, different, and useful from a street smart point of view. And he was good company: I was working for a small independent pharmacy business in those days, and good friends, once bountiful in university, were harder to come by.
The most fascinating memory I’ve ever had of him was when I told him that I was actually more open minded than he was.
He looked at me as if I had suddenly started shooting up street drugs, and then he just laughed. I continued, and explained that I was more open minded because I could see the validity of both liberal and traditional lifestyles, although I chose a conservative one for myself by waiting until marriage. I said that he was close-minded because he could only respect his own chosen lifestyle, and he could not see that any other lifestyle besides his own could lead to happiness. He was speechless. That was the day I got his respect.
In 2011, about three weeks after I broke up with my first and last boyfriend, he asked me whether I wanted to chill out at his apartment to watch a movie. You know…to this day, I’m still not 100% sure what his intentions were. He may have just wanted a movie, he may have wanted something more.
I just remember that my brain went on to alarm mode… First, I was incredibly lonely, living away from my parents, not knowing anyone else from a forty minute radius of where I lived. Second of all, despite his views, and despite the fact that we had just been friends, I found his focus and his confidence incredibly attractive (he was the ultimate alpha male). Thirdly, I was also extremely emotional about breaking up with a guy that I thought I was going to eventually marry, and I could just feel the yearning to be held again by someone familiar.
We were good friends, and although I knew that he wouldn’t be an appropriate boyfriend for me, I had never felt so lonely in my life. I could hear the small voice in my head saying… It’s just a movie, it’ll be nice to get some company…
And then I realized that I wasn’t naive anymore. A hug in a private environment between two people who were obviously attracted to each other, would never end up being just a hug.
And I said no thank you, and went back to my tiny, dark, empty apartment, alone.
That was one of the strongest and proudest moments of my life.