He took my socks.

I like to think I’m not easy. Then again, I’m starting this blog.

Ryan and I met during university. We were in different majors, but we both joined the theater club.

When I first saw him, he looked like a star–beautiful and out of reach. After auditions, Ryan had a main role, while I was just chorus. There always seems to be some contention between named and unnamed roles.

However, I was young, dumb, and looking for an excuse to meet Ryan. During dinners or breaks, the cast would normally separate into groups based on the amount of scene interaction. I would plop myself with the main cast. “We’re all part of the same show!” I’d say. Pretty soon the whole cast would mingle together.

Ryan and other leads shared their stresses and fears. Chorus members were happy we didn’t have as much pressure. The director told me she was glad I got along with everyone. There wasn’t too much drama for our drama club this semester.

I was able to meet Ryan and talk to him a few times–not as many times as I hoped. My nonchalant efforts to interact with the main cast gained too much attention. Usually, people want to be friends with the stars of the show. For some reason, everyone wanted to be friends with me. In the past, I was a stage hand or tech. Now, I was a wallflower on display with no clue what to do.

Fate accepted, I let things continue as they were. Rehearsals were fun, and everyone was having a blast. Set construction started soon. Between set construction and the show’s run, the theater club had 24/7 access to the theater. Set construction would run 24 hours a day during the weekend, and after classes during the week.

The production team was not joking about 24 hours a day. There were blankets and pillows in the theater for naps or breaks.

Construction was going fast, and I was out of energy. I lied down under a blanket. Ryan came over and slid under the blanket with me. He turned to me and said, “Hey,” in that confident yet seemingly uncaring college boy way. Theater kids are close, so I wasn’t excited or caught off guard.

What did catch me off guard was Ryan’s hand pressing against mine. I didn’t pull my hand away and neither did Ryan. Half joking, I turned to him and said, “You can hold my hand if you want.” He slowly turned his face away from mine. I felt him intertwining his fingers with mine.

My heart was racing, and my palms were sweaty. My brain went dead, and I couldn’t move. We sat there until–“Hey you two, we need your help”–the director called. Ryan and I didn’t talk during the rest of set construction that weekend.

Monday, as we were clearing up to go to class, Ryan asked me to grab lunch. After that, we were inseparable.

“Ryan shines on stage, but he’s a total recluse,” one of Ryan’s friends told me. “Ryan accepts everyone’s friendship,” I was told. “You’re the first friend he brought into the group,” someone else said.

Ryan invited me into his friend group. His persona was vastly different from his portrayal in the theater. Ryan told me he thought I didn’t notice him. All the blankets at set construction were occupied, and it would be low risk to share mine. He thought I was unreachable. He was surprised I didn’t pull my hand away.

It was odd and comforting we held each other in high regards. We had mutual respect for each other.

The show went well.

Because we were in different majors, Ryan and I tried to match electives. I was a school kid in love.

After a while, we would soon be graduating. Ryan and I applied for jobs in the same cities. We settled on a place, and I thought we were doing well.

We packed my belongings in my car to drive across the country. Ryan was going to fly back and road trip again with his father.

Our road trip was fun and filled with tourist traps. Ryan mentioned which stops his dad would enjoy.

The morning Ryan was flying out, he woke me up with a kiss. While getting dressed, Ryan oddly reached into my hamper, pulled out a dirty pair of socks, and put them on.

“Those are my socks,” I said.
“I know,” he replied.

I dropped him off at the airport. Before he left, he kissed me and told me he wasn’t coming back. He wanted to shine alongside me, but he felt stuck in the shadows. If he ever felt he could shine alongside me, he’d try to make it back he claimed. “But don’t wait for me,” he added.

His logic felt so dumb.

I wonder if he still has my socks.

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