I’ve been in love with Jacob Green since we met at Camp Kinder Ring in 2004. We were thirteen and entering our pubescent stride one awkward pimple at a time. No matter what I looked or smelled like, he accepted me then the way he still accepts me now, for better or worse.
The first time I saw him was during a large game of capture the flag. I was standing off to the side, trying to look busy enough to avoid engagement from the demanded physical activity needed for such a game. That’s when I saw him, ducking and weaving past flying bodies, all reaching out to touch him. Boys and girls alike chased him around as he contorted his skinny body to avoid every single person’s reach. A tingle traveled through my body, a new feeling emerging from the depths of my untapped brain. I wanted to crush everyone chasing him, I wanted to protect him, I wanted to own him, I wanted to feel his body contort around mine. I wanted to win him.
I can honestly say that Jacob Green is the reason I started masturbating. That night, I looked at the base of my hairbrush differently, like a mathematician who finally understands the proof they’ve been working on by looking at it sideways, their head resting on their arms in defeat. I also looked at bed posts, door frames, arms of chairs, and fat Sharpies differently.
Our first interaction began when he joined the conversation he overheard me having with another camper about the musical, Wicked. We were discussing the moment in the show that turned us into fanatics, and this was his contribution:
“The end to Act 1, the final moment of “Defying Gravity” where Idina hits the high note and reaches out, just before the lights go black, I never thought I’d have a moment that struck me so deeply, everything about it, it was shocking, and I let out single-breath-Richard-Dreyfuss-cry, you know, where he gasps and from pure emotion his eyes instantly fill with tears, see Mr. Holland’s Opus.”
Always animated while he spoke, his delivery of “see Mr. Holland’s Opus,” came with a visual asterisk of him pinching the air with his pointer finger and thumb. And with that, he smote me.
Quickly, we became the kind of friends who pick up on each other’s mannerisms. One time, we were talking to another camper about our hatred of our names, and I said, “I feel like Val is the lesbian version of Claire, see The Breakfast Club,” visual asterisk included. Jacob laughed so hard; I knew that making him smile would become a lifelong goal of mine.
We kept in contact through the years and would meet up to see Broadway shows together in the city during holiday breaks from school. In the summers, we continued going to Camp Kinder Ring and our friendship only grew deeper, along with my undying love for him. He was kind, respectful, hilarious, sexy, and my family loved him. It was easy to see a future for the two of us.
As the years flew by, I never brought up the boys I was interested in. I didn’t want to accidentally put a wall between us, I wanted him to see me as innocent and pure and waiting for him, which, in a way, I was. By senior year, we were best friends, and I was afraid I’d become too much of a friend for him to ever see me as a potential partner. We’d cuddled, but never got physical. We’d give each other back rubs, but I was always too afraid to make the first move toward anything more. I wanted him to grip me by the arms, spin me around and kiss me so deeply that all the movies and shows we’d watched together would combine into one bombastic kiss that defined our past, present, and future lives together. Moulin Rouge! had nothing on us. Or any Baz Luhrmann film, actually.
We applied to colleges together, were accepted to the same ones, and eventually chose to go to the same school, only building on our forever-friendship. I felt safe with him, and I knew he felt safe with me. This would be the kind of romance I told our children about and they would grow up accepting nothing less from a partner than lifelong devotion and the belief in true love above all else.
We both partied pretty hard in college, but neither hooked up with a lot of people. There were a few times he went home with a random girl, but he’d always come stumbling back into the apartment we shared before sunrise. He didn’t know, but I'd always wait up in my room to hear him, heartache keeping me awake.
Senior year, I got us both extremely drunk and we made out. I tried going at his pants but he stopped me. Feeling completely unwanted, I cried, yelling at him that I know I’m ugly and that no one ever wants to fuck me. I’ll never forget what he said next:
"Oh Val, baby, denial is a hell of a thing.”
I loved when he called me “baby” or “babe” and I loved the way he stroked my hair as I puked in the toilet, narrowly missing the purple Sherpa toilet seat cover we had picked out at Target when we first moved in together.
And then it happened, senior year: I walked in on him. I was supposed to be at a four hour class, but left early because I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to catch up on the Friends episodes we had just acquired on DVD. I walked into the apartment and went straight to his room, my ear buds still in, canceling any worldly noise. This was my fatal mistake, and now whenever I hear that Gotye song, my memory flashes with the images of Jacob Green and Kevin Kennedy having sex. Almost ten years after being introduced to the sensation, I finally knew what the “single-breath-Richard-Dreyfuss-cry” was like.
In what should have been a 90’s Julia Roberts movie, I was in love with my gay best friend. This was not, however, a romantic comedy in which the truth was revealed, all the wrongs were set right and we ended our story at brunch, drinking mimosas and gossiping about Blake Lively’s cupcakes.
Instead, I was devastated. I understood what my peers always said about finding out that Santa wasn’t real. They felt like idiots, retracing their memories and seeing the signs were in front of them all along. They were lied to, and their blind trust in the belief of something better kept them blissfully ignorant until the harsh reality smacked them in the face.
But it’s ok, because now our relationship, however changed, has grown into something else that I wouldn’t replace for the world. In a way, I got what I always wanted: he’s mine. I am his woman, and no other female is getting in between us.
I’ve tried dating men on and off, but nothing ever really seems to click. I hold them to the Jacob Green standard, except for the whole turning gay thing, and I don’t except anything less. I’ve been the “side piece,” for a few different men, and Jacob has always been there to boost my confidence and help me see that I’m better than that. However impossible, I wish he saw in me what I see in him.
In Jacob, I have everything I want in a partner. We share the same taste in everything, understand each other’s humor, and provide each other with the plutonic physicality necessary to exist in the world without feeling the crippling loneliness of single-dom. He’s a safe bet, because he’s never going to leave me for another woman. Sometimes, I find myself resting a hand on his knee when we’re out at parties. It’s the little comforting touches that remind me that this life is something I chose and am at peace with.
We help each other on dating apps, and I’m still incredibly protective of the men he sees. They have to treat him right.
Last week, we got matching tattoos on the inside of our bottom lips reading: MMMBop
I fully support him in his romantic endeavors, I do.
Maybe our lives are more like Wicked than I could have imagined. In reality, I’m not Elphaba, even though I’ve always connected most with her. I’m actually Glinda. I fight a battle over Fiyero, longing for his love, although it has always been with another force entirely, someone I’ve protected and believed in, someone I fought for against the common, misunderstanding people. Elphaba wasn’t really wicked, that was just a rumor spread.
In the end, I looked the green witch in the face and together we realized that we are like this because of one another and we are destined to be at odds. At our core, we are different. No matter how hard I tried, Fiyero belongs to her and he never belonged to me. They’re meant to be. The heart wants what the heart wants. I can’t be mad forever, I’m not that girl. I’m not that girl. I’m not that girl. Reprise.