Oh, God, I can't do this.
I've been on a ton of first dates before, and I have never been this nervous about one.
Maybe it's because I have nothing to wear this time. Or because my hair won't cooperate. Or because I just realized that I don't have any of my special-occasion perfume left.
Or maybe I'm nervous because this isn't just any other guy. This is my best friend I'm going on a date with. And that's freaking me out.
When he asked me out to dinner, I thought it would just be as friends - like we've done so many times before. But then he got all serious and told me that he wanted us to go out as more than just friends. More. I had never thought of him as being "more" before. I'll admit, I thought he was insane.
But now that I've thought of him as... more... it's kind of hard to un-think. I can't stop thinking of him as "more."
And I'm pretty sure that's why everything in my life seems to be going wrong right about now. I want this date to be perfect, because he means more to me than any other random guy I've dated. He's been my best friend for three years, and now all of a sudden everything is different.
So much pressure.
Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes and allow myself to relax for a minute. I need to calm down, otherwise I'll just end up being a huge mess and he'll never want to talk to me or see me ever again. And I can't let that happen.
I wonder if he's freaking out as much as I am. He's probably not, considering he's Mr. Suave-and-Perfect. He's never nervous, especially when it comes to dating. Why would a date with me all of a sudden be an exception?
I shake my head, trying to get rid of all the stressful thoughts running through my mind. I need to focus on right now, what's going on right this second. I need to focus on getting ready for this date.
I walk over to my closet for the third time tonight, pulling open the door, and just stare inside. Like I said - absolutely nothing to wear.
I sift through all my clothes and finally settle on a cute sundress and sandals. I figure it's nice enough for a date, but still casual enough to just be spending time with my best friend.
I leave my dark, loosely curled hair down and put only some black eyeliner, mascara, and champagne colored eye shadow on my eyes. It's nothing more than what I usually wear every other day.
I decide to try my hardest to stop worrying so much about what I'll look like on this date. He's seen me at my worst and still wants to go on a date with me, so why should I try any harder than I do on a daily basis?
After I'm completely ready to go, I head to the living room in my apartment and sit on my couch. I just sit alone, in silence, waiting impatiently and nervously for Tyler to get to my place.
As the time drags on, I start to calm down a little bit. I focus on my breathing and try to keep Tyler out of my thoughts. And it does wonders for my nerves.
About eighteen minutes and forty-two seconds later, I hear a knock on my apartment door. Butterflies automatically fill my stomach again and my heart nearly beats out of my chest. I close my eyes and take one last deep breath before standing and walking to the door.
I grab the door handle and just stand there for a moment. I'm trying to get a full grip on myself before I have to face him and the night that might potentially change everything about my future.
When I finally open the door, my best friend and date for the night, Tyler, is standing in front of me. The butterflies in my stomach instantly multiply when I see him.
His slightly wide eyes take in every inch of me before looking back into my own eyes. His lips curve up into a shy, bashful smile.
"Hey, Allie," he breathes. "You look really pretty."
I let out a nervous giggle. "Thanks. You look really good, too."
And he does. He's gone the dressy-yet-casual route like I have. Khaki shorts are hanging off his hips, and a plaid button-up collared shirt covers the upper half of his body, the long sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His hair is tousled to perfection, his naturally tanned skin glowing more than usual.
"Thanks," he chuckles. He points his thumb over his shoulder. "You want to get going?"
I nod. "Yeah. Sure."
"We're just going for a walk so all you need is yourself. Just to let you know."
I raise an eyebrow at Tyler. "We're just going for a walk?"
I thought we would be going to dinner - like he'd asked me originally. Guess I was wrong.
"Yeah." He shrugs and slips his hands into the front pockets of his shorts. "I changed my mind about dinner. It's a really nice night out, and I didn't want to try too hard with this... We've already done movies, dinner - everything else you could ever think of. I thought we'd just take it easy."
"Oh. Um, okay. That sounds good."
He reaches up and scratches the back of his neck as I close and lock my front door.
"Is the whole walk thing a stupid idea?" he asks.
I turn to face him. He looks really nervous and embarrassed.
"No," I say. I'm telling the truth. "We really have done everything else there is to do. Just going for a relaxing little walk kind of takes some of the pressure off anyway."
He lets out a relieved breath. "Okay. Good. Do you want me to hold on to your key for you?"
"No, it's fine. I can just keep it in my -"
I stop talking when I realize I left my purse inside my apartment and I'm not taking it with me. He raises his eyebrows, and I hold the key up to him.
"Yeah," I murmur shyly. "Thanks."
He laughs as he takes my key and securely places it into one of his pockets.
"Seriously," he chuckles. "Come on. Let's go."
We turn away from my apartment and walk toward the elevator at the end of the hall. The entire elevator ride and the walk out of my apartment building is completely silent. Neither of us says a word. It's not exactly awkward, but it's a little strange. Usually we're constantly joking and laughing and talking over each other.
We're across the street and a few blocks away from my apartment building when the silence is suddenly getting very old and annoying. As we start walking into a quaint park, I look over and up at Tyler's profile. His eyes are still a little wide, and he's furiously biting his bottom lip. Why does he seem so nervous? It's not like him at all.
"Tyler?" I murmur.
He doesn't look at me, but he does manage to rasp out a small "Yeah?" in response.
"Why are you so quiet tonight?"
He glances down at me. "I could ask you the same thing."
I swallow and look away. Good point, Tyler.
"I'm a little nervous," he continues. I look back up at him, and he's looking away from me again.
"You're nervous?" I question, surprised by his confession. That's seriously so unlike him. Why is he actually nervous?
He nods. "Of course I am. This is totally different from what I'm used to. I've never gone on a date with a really good friend of mine. I'm a little afraid of what this might change or lead to."
So it's not me he's nervous about. It's just the fact that we're used to being just friends. He probably doesn't want our friendship to get screwed up. That's what he means, right?
"You've never gone on a romantic date with a friend?" I ask.
I purse my lips. "Well... no."
"It's not just me then," he says. "Aren't you nervous?"
I let out a scoff-like laugh. "A little."
He smiles slightly.
"I really just don't know what to say," he explains. "I mean, what do you talk about on a date with a girl you've been friends with for three years?" He shakes his head. "I feel like I already know everything about you. Like we bypassed the first date years ago and we should just jump right into this a lot easier than we seem to be."
After giving it some thought for a moment, I say, "I think it's just because this is so new. We're not used to hanging out this way, you know? We need to just relax and act like it's any other day together."
"You're right." He nods as if reassuring himself. "Yeah. You're completely right."
"So, um… How's work been going?" I ask for sake of conversation.
Tyler automatically starts laughing. "You're really going to ask me about work? We never talk about work."
I feel my cheeks heat up. "Well, I don't know what else to say!"
He continues to laugh. "You're really cute."
My face grows hotter and I bite my lip.
This is so different. But kind of perfect in a weird - but good - way.
"I really need to get used to this," I giggle.
"You think if I held your hand it might help?"
I smile. "It might not hurt to try."
With a smile on his own face, he grabs my hand in a friendly way. I shift my hand so that my fingers slide between his, and he squeezes my hand tightly. He lets out a huff of breath, his cheeks puffing out, and my smile gets bigger.
Holding his hand feels more natural than I'd expected. And it really does help a lot. I think I really could get used to this.
"Not bad," he murmurs.
He chuckles softly as he pulls me through the park, leading me to a small bench on the side of the path we're walking on.
The flow of conversation between us becomes easier and I realize that it's really not difficult at all to be on a date with him. I shouldn't have been so nervous before. We're talking about things we always talk about, and everything feels the same as it does when we usually hang out. It feels so good.
We sit down on the bench when we reach it, and I notice how close to me he sits. His knee is against mine, our faces closer together than usual. Of course I don't mind it. It's just another one of those things that I'm not exactly used to.
Our easy flow of conversation doesn't stop at all. We just keep talking to each other like nothing is any different, and I honestly don't think it is any different. I feel comfortable with him now, like I always did before he asked me out. It's easy to see that he feels a lot more comfortable now, too.
He's laughing his typical, loud, obnoxious laugh. He's throwing his hands around as he tells me some of his crazy, interesting stories. His eyes are bright and sparkling as he speaks animatedly, and it's starting to make me fall for him even more.
I don't know why I never thought of him this way before. He's cute, smart, funny, sweet, and an honestly all-around perfect guy. I've always known that, but I never let myself see it as anything more than just the way my friend was. Now I'm starting to see it all a little differently.
He's the kind of guy that any girl would instantly fall head over heels for. The kind of guy that doesn't even realize how flawless he is - which only makes him all the more perfect. I know how well he treats girls; I've seen him firsthand with past girlfriends of his. I don't think boyfriends can get any better than him. I know none of my past boyfriends could even begin to compare to who Tyler is.
I wish I'd realized how I felt about him earlier in our friendship. Or that I would've realized how amazing he really is a little sooner. It's not like it ever seemed like he wanted to date me before now, but who knows? You never know anything for sure. Things could've been completely different if I'd realized how much I like him years ago.
Then again, I've heard before that people have better romantic relationships when they start out as just basic friends. So maybe it's good that we've only had that type of friendship these past few years. Tyler and I are perfect best friends, so I think we could probably be a perfect couple if we give it a chance. And I'm more than willing to give it a chance.
Even though tonight started out slightly awkward and at first it wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be, I seriously completely love the way this date with my best friend is turning out.
I want to be more than just his friend. I think he wants that too, but I'm a little afraid to bring it up. I know that once I do, there's no turning back. Once I tell him that I want more, things will change forever and we can never have a simple friendship ever again.
It can only go one of two ways - we try more, or we never speak again. And I'm scared that it'll all go wrong. I really don't want to end up losing him in the end, because he is the one thing in my life that I couldn't stand to lose. It's one of the biggest risks I'll ever have to make.
But I've learned something in my twenty-four years of being alive. When you don't take any chances, you don't get anywhere in life. If you never face your fears, you'll never know exactly what you're capable of. You can't let the fear of something going wrong drag you down. You can't let it control you. I'd much rather look back on my life and remember being turned down than wonder what I ever could've had with Tyler.
As a comfortable silence falls over us, I make my decision. I take a deep breath and look at him. Here goes nothing.
"I've been wondering why you asked me out, you know," I hesitantly admit.
He smiles at me. "You haven't figured it out by now? Seriously?"
I shrug innocently. "I really just don't get it. It's been three years and you've never shown any interest in me as more than just a friend until when you randomly asked me out."
He shifts so that he faces me, his arm draped across the back of the bench. The mood is suddenly very serious.
"Allie, really? I haven't shown any interest in you? Where have you been these past three years?"
I furrow my eyebrows and fidget a little bit. "What are you saying?"
"Allie." He sighs. "Allie, I've really liked you since the moment I first laid eyes on you. More than I've ever liked any girl in my entire life. But you were always with some other guy or I was always too nervous to ask you out... I was just stupid. And I finally just forced myself to get over it because I didn't want to wait anymore. I wanted to see what it was like to be something more with you, and I was getting sick of not doing anything about my feelings for you."
After too long of a beat, I manage to breathe out an, "Oh."
He scoffs and shakes his head before looking away from me.
"I bet you don't even feel the same way about me," he says as he stands up and takes a couple of steps away from me. He doesn't face me. "You just agreed to go out with me because you didn't want to hurt me. Here I am looking like an idiot because I'm telling you how I feel about you and expecting you to feel the same way about me. You're this ridiculously beautiful, funny, insanely nice and perfect girl and I'm just some dumb guy that's totally out of your league. I guess we're just better off as friends because you're obviously not interested in being anything more than that with me."
"You're wrong," I blurt out, almost before he's finished talking. "Completely wrong."
He turns around and looks at me for a second, and then his eyes shift to the ground.
"How am I wrong?" he whispers back.
I stand up, but keep my distance from him.
"I like you, too," I tell him. "I might not have felt this way for as long as you have, but I feel it now. When you asked me out, I started seeing you a lot differently than I did before. Everything completely changed. I agreed to go on this date with you because I wanted to know what it was like to be more with you, too. It started out a little rough and weird, but now it's gotten so good. And I think I really like it. I mean... I like you, Tyler. A lot."
He purses his lips and keeps his eyes away from me. He doesn't say a word, and he's silent for so long that I start to wonder if he'll talk or look at me ever again.
Just when I start to feel stupid for telling the truth, like I've somehow ruined everything, he finally speaks.
"Do you usually kiss on a first date?" he asks, still looking at anything but me.
Oh my God. There are the butterflies again.
I shrug. "Not with guys I don't know very well."
"What about with guys you do know very well?"
I stare at him for another few seconds, and then I walk the few steps it takes to get as close to him as possible. He finally looks at me, and I put my hands on his cheeks so I can pull his face to mine, and then we're kissing.
He puts his hands on the small of my back and pulls me a little closer to him. My hands move off of his face and my arms loop around his neck, my fingers in his hair.
The kiss is perfect. It's everything I never had with any other guy. My heart rate speeds up again, and I feel like I'm floating. It's an absolutely spectacular feeling. But more than anything, kissing him just feels so right.
I have to stop kissing him after a few seconds because I feel the sudden urge to make the decision that I know both of us are trying to figure out.
"I really, really want to be more than just friends with you, Tyler," I murmur.
There. It's official. He knows exactly what I want. Now it's all up to him.
He smiles as he looks at me; his eyes bright and his expression relieved. Pure happiness emanates from him.
"I really, really want to be more with you, too," he says, and then his lips are back on mine.