I’ve always loved The Little Mermaid. As a child, I wanted to be Ariel; she had red hair too, she could sing, and she got to live in the ocean with all the fish! This was just completely magical to five-year-old Jo. As a teenager I discovered the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, and completely fell in love. It was so beautifully tragic; all the pain she went through because she loved someone who didn’t love her back. I never thought this was a story I could relate to, until I fell in love with my best friend.
I’d never had a friend like Adam before, never had someone accepted me as completely as he did. With Adam, I could just be myself. I didn’t have to moderate my feelings around him. I was able to be as excited, upset, or even scared as I liked. I could rant as passionately as I pleased. I could be my silly, daft self and he would laugh with me. I could be serious and in thought, and he would discuss with me. Whatever I was feeling, I could just be me.
Adam himself was pretty amazing too. He was funny and incredibly smart. He was the biggest geek I knew, yet he was so cool with his motorbike and his guitar. He exuded the perfect amount of confidence and was never arrogant. He genuinely didn’t give a crap what anyone thought of him and I’d never known anyone so comfortable in their own skin. He was there for me whenever I needed him and I trusted him completely. Despite the fact we have a long distance friendship – with me in London and him in Belfast – we grew really close. So, perhaps inevitably, I fell in love with him. Perfect, right? Two friends falling in love with each other. Here’s the problem though, he didn’t feel the same way about me.
I suppose it didn’t help that our friendship was born of mutual attraction. I knew he liked me, so a part of me always had hope. Once I spoke to him about how I felt, he made it clear it wasn’t going to happen. He tried to let me down gently, explaining how a long distance relationship wasn’t ideal. I knew in my head that it wasn’t going to work out, but there was this false hope that kept the thought lingering in the back of my mind. I desperately clung to this awful kind of hope for such a long time. Sporadically, I would remind him of how I felt and implore him to try. The distance wasn’t a problem for me. In fact, it was doable; my aunt and uncle had a long distance relationship for years, and they were living on the other side of the world from each other. Adam and I were just an hour away by plane. I knew it would be hard, and it might even hurt, but I felt he was worth it. We were worth it. But his answer never changed.