I was geeky and awkward and my nose was outgrowing the rest of my face. Hormones got the best of me and I hadn't yet discovered the benefits of acne face wash and shaving.
Why did she even like me? Read more [+/-]
I was an American Born Chinese (ABC) teen in junior high. X. was a Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) teen in the same school who had been in America for a couple of years. She spoke with a Chinese accent, and I knew enough Cantonese to make fun of her in her native tongue. I was in my group of boys who played basketball and hated girls, she was in her group of girls that did whatever it is girls do in junior high and calling boys gay.
We would mingle at times of truce, sharing in our interest of modern Chinese culture: trading YES! cards (Collectable cards featuring stars of Asian cinema and music from YES! magazine), eating cheap Chinese food we could afford, having her teach me how to write in Chinese and me teaching her how to pronounce the letters 'r' and 's'.
In the Spring semester of our seventh grade, after X.'s friend M. claimed her possession of my friend D., X. would confess her love for me in the form of a Valentine's Day card, a letter in what I can remember to be 8pt font in script and a jar full of folded lucky stars (the tradition is to fold one for each day of the year). I hadn't gotten her anything, but I accepted her gifts anyway. I was young and it was (and still is) nice to receive gifts.
When she asked me to be her boyfriend, I told her no. Instead of telling her the truth, I told her it was because she was 'too Chinese' (which was partially true; I had a pet-peeve where I couldn't stand listening to people speaking with a Chinese-accent, hence my pronunciation tutoring). We could still be friends I assured her.
But could we? Her admission of love for me changed the dynamic of our friendship. We treated each other differently, or perhaps she had always treated me this way and by me knowing how she felt, skewed the way I saw things. I had more power because she loved me more than I loved her. Maybe the only change in the relationship was on my end; but it was obvious the balance of power, the equality of our friendship, had shifted. It created this "one-sided love" relationship. As weeks passed, it became harder and harder for me to see us as friends.
X. would think it was because of her 'Chineseness' that I was starting to pull away. She wouldn't know it was because I was gay and afraid of this "one-sided love" relationship. She would try to change herself to appease me, choosing to go by a more 'Americanized' name, wanting me to tutor her more, calling me on the phone just to talk, and even buying me an expensive wallet for my birthday. In the end, her sincere attempts to hold onto the friendship turned into an annoyance, and even after she told me she no longer had romantic feelings for me, I wouldn't believe her and I ended the friendship.
This was the first time "one-sided love" ended one of my friendships. I could no longer be friends with someone who loved me more than I love them. I just couldn't. Was it guilt? immaturity? inexperience? I still wonder.
As fate would have it, I would be on the other side of the fence a few years later.