How I fell in love with an old friend

Sebastian and I had been close friends for four years (since my freshman year of high school and his junior year) before he became my boyfriend. Today we celebrate our first anniversary as a couple, 200 miles apart.

He’s always wanted me to write about him, but I keep telling him he’d have to break my heart or something to inspire me. I don’t think he’s willing to do that. Still, I guess it’s about time to feature him in a post anyway. So here’s our little love story, from my perspective.

October 2019:

My train pulled into NYC hours behind schedule. But when I found Sebastian waiting inside a McDonald’s near Penn Station, he wasn’t upset at all. His smile was so sweet as we shared a hug and headed out into the city.

We’d planned this weekend trip to catch up as old friends. Now that I’d moved to New England for college, I was a lot closer to the U.S. Military Academy — which pretty much holds him hostage most months.

I hadn’t seen this man in years, and I could tell something was different in him. Maybe it was his actions, or the way he spoke to me, but I noticed over the course of the evening that he’d grown more mature. He told me that’s what West Point does to a person.

I used to think he was a dick, and he used to think I was annoying (yet somehow our friendship never really faded throughout the years). By the end of that night, neither of us held those same opinions of each other.

The next day, he gave me a goodbye fist bump before leaving for West Point. Now whenever he complains we should’ve dated sooner, I remind him he left me with a fist bump… which I took as a hint. The wrong hint, apparently, because he says he was just nervous.

November–December 2019:

Sebastian had invited me to 500th Night, West Point’s formal banquet for third-years celebrating 500 nights left before graduation. Between our October trip to NYC and the upcoming dance in January, we barely spoke at all.

Later, we stupidly revealed we’d both actually been thinking about each other throughout these months. Neither of us prompted any contact, though, because we each thought the other would take the initiative if they wanted to (haha, oops).

When my friends asked about this guy who was taking me as a date to West Point, I told them he wouldn’t be anything serious. He couldn’t, anyway, because he’s an old friend to my ex-boyfriend. My friends said I didn’t owe my ex anything.

January 2020:

I flew to upstate New York on a Friday morning, and we met up in a coffee shop in Newburgh. Sebastian took me on a walk along the Hudson River and showed me around the town a little before we headed to our Airbnb.

A rainbow arched over the road the next afternoon as we drove into West Point for 500th Night. My dress was so stunning, and I was beyond excited to wear it. I’d never been to an event that formal — it was definitely intimidating — but the whole evening felt magical.

We later found out his friends had noticed (I didn’t) the way I held his hand the entire night, even at the dinner table.

Walking back to his car in the freezing wind chill, I told him I loved him before I could even think about what it meant. I just needed to express the emotion I was feeling, and that came out. It was up to him to determine whether I meant it romantically or not.

He returned the words after a brief pause.

That night, back in our Airbnb, I realized I didn’t want to leave him. I tried to conceal it at first, but Sebastian read me easily. When I finally forced out the admission that I’d developed feelings, he told me he knew.

He’d known since the moment he walked into that coffee shop to pick me up, because my voice was different when I spoke to him. It was higher-pitched, the way it gets when I’m especially excited.

I thought I hadn’t fallen in love until the last minute, right before my flight back to Boston, but my subconscious had registered it far before I did. And Sebastian told me he felt the same way. So, we sat in bed, not really knowing how to proceed from there.

He was planning not to enter a relationship while still a cadet, and I had promised myself not to commit to anyone during my first year of college. And then there was the mutual guilt we felt over betraying my ex-boyfriend. I thought I would hate myself for doing that, but I also couldn’t help wanting to pursue what I had with Sebastian.

I decided it wasn’t worth forfeiting the opportunity to take a path that could be right for both of us, to toss away a love that could flourish into something so good, for the sake of not hurting somebody who had hurt me many times before.

So I suggested a trial run: we do this for two months. Come March, if either of us felt the relationship was unsustainable, we’d separate with no hard feelings. Then, he drove me to the airport and, at 4 a.m, we said our goodbyes.

Our trial lasted no more than two weeks before we decided to scrap the test period. We were sure of each other already.

Now, a year into this long-distance thing, I’m only more certain we made the right choice to give this a shot. Aside from complementing my faults with his strengths, Sebastian’s shown me the kind of genuine, boundless love I didn’t even know I was ready to receive.

As fiercely independent as I’ve always been, I’m proud to say I’m stronger with this one as my partner in life.

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