Throughout my life, my closest friends have always been females. Although there are certainly exceptions, I think this is fairly typical of people in general - you build more intimate friendships with other people of the same sex.
I have personally had one exception to this.
I began talking with TM on a bike ride we both went on with our youth group. He was the new guy. The trail we were riding was 16 miles. (St. Marks Trail if you’re familiar with the Tallahassee/North Florida area.)
It was summertime. Recent rain had made the paved trail wet and muddy in spots. I was wearing my grubby clothes in anticipation of getting hot and sweaty. Not being an experienced cyclist, I didn’t realize how dirty we would get. TM spent a great deal of time bemoaning the streak of mud that was growing thicker on his back.
His complaints were amusing to me and I teased him mercilessly. For years we talked about that day, because we bonded with each other over our handlebars as we rode the trail.
TM was the oldest of four in a devout Christian family. He played piano and practiced hours and hours every day. He and his siblings were homeschooled, which allowed him to devote a great deal of time to his music. His knowledge of music was always impressive to me. He inspired me to expand my own horizons.
We went to church together for a few years and then ended up attending Florida State University’s School of Music together. He was a music performance major and I was music education. When I needed to find an accompanist for voice lessons, TM was the only person I asked.
Though we spent more time together at school, TM became increasingly reserved. The reason became clear when a mutual friend of ours told me that TM was gay. For about half a second I was shocked, until I came to my senses. How had I missed this and why didn’t he tell me? Oh, yeah…we went to church together where this would not go over well at all.
I think he knew that I knew his secret, but he never specifically discussed it with me. I let him take the lead on that decision and now I wish I hadn’t. Maybe if I had talked with him openly about it we wouldn’t have drifted. Or maybe we still would have - almost all of his friendships drifted over time.
We never fought. We never disagreed. Life simply took us in different directions and we lost touch.
I still miss TM and think about him regularly. I hope that wherever he is, he’s happy. And I hope, even if it seems unlikely, that our paths cross again someday.