touching my shoes

Here.

Originally posted by neybutt

In a place as vibrant as a football match, you would have expected me to be happy. All smiles, all wide with a drink in my hand and cheers so loud that the woman next to me either would hate me or be so intoxicated with my happiness that she’d join in.

And normally, that was me. Put me in a stadium, any stadium whether it was a team I was passionate about or not, and I was hopping around like a mad woman.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case today. Set up in the players’ guests area, I was much more somber and tucked into my chair like I was at home laid up on my couch. My back was pressed against the seat and the soles of my shoes touching the chair while I wrapped my arms around my bent legs that sat close to my chest. I definitely didn’t have the most welcoming exterior and that was on purpose.

Chatter filled the VIP box, most of it not even revolving around the game as the two women new to the usual crowd dropped their unusual conversation topics between the distracted men around them. Shoes, fashion, clubs, all the sorts of things you don’t even think to mention when you’re at a football match and the men were really only interested because these women were attractive.

The sorts of women you may have seen in between the pages of Elle, because they weren’t that special enough to cover a Vogue. The sorts of women that frequented certain social circles for the prestige that came with them. The sorts of women that you avoided at all costs if you were like me.

I guess that’s why they were here because there was nothing like a VIP suite or the special seating areas scattered around Camp Nou that held the most influential people around town or in this case, the most beautiful people who were looking to make a connection with those special people.

Their target: Neymar.

And to be honest, I didn’t have any doubt they would reach their target. In fact it seemed they already had somewhat. That’s how they got in these seats in the first place and even if they had yet to come face to face with him, Neymar wasn’t the type that could ignore these women.

They stood out in the sea of Barcelona colors, instead donning these long designer trench coats paired with casual jeans and heels so high I wouldn’t dare slip my feet into them. Their hair was primped and prepped, straightened and shined so perfectly that whenever they turned their head you could see the tint of their now somewhat faded highlights. Diamonds glistened off their wrist, neck and ears whenever they tossed their head back to let out one of those exaggerated laughs whenever Gil told a corny joke.

It was nauseating and no one even really noticed my dissatisfaction as they were too busy attending to their guests to care about little old me.

I was always here, dressed in my 2012 away Barcelona kit and my running shoes either paired with a pair of shorts or jeans depending on the temperature. No one was looking to entertain me.

“Hey.”

The strong yet gentle touch of two male hands squeezing my shoulders caused me to look over my shoulder where I sat, Bryce looking down at me as those emerald green eyes shined under the afternoon sun.

At least I had Bryce.

The equally quiet, easily focused during matches Bryce who was also a friend of Neymar’s but seemingly less influenced by the gorgeous looks of the attendees. He let go of his hold on my shoulder and slipped into the empty seat next to me that was usually occupied by Gil.

“You seem quiet. Something wrong? Aside from the game being scoreless,” he chuckled.

He knew how much I loved an early goal.

For Barcelona of course.

I gave off a pathetic shrug that didn’t do too much to mask my annoyance. That was largely on purpose. I wasn’t going to cover up that I was a little annoyed with being here and that if I hadn’t promised Ney to see him after the game, I would have made an early departure. “Who comes to a match and talks about everything but the match?”

Bryce broke out into a small laugh, his lips separating as those sparkling white teeth showed behind the pink separation. I was surprised they weren’t over here trying to swoon him. He was easily the most gorgeous of Neymar’s friends, second only to him of course when they traveled out in large groups. He also had this personality that made him a bit more exclusive to the rest, not as willing to entertain the random groupies that surrounded him so often. “Women who don’t watch the sport. Not everyone’s a fanatic like you.”

“Then maybe they should be at the shopping center instead of here,” I grumbled.

“The jealousy is just oozing from your skin,” he chuckled, his hand jokingly running against my arm before I laughed and slapped it away. “Shut up. I’m not jealous.”

“Just admit you love the guy.”

“It’s funny you say that…”

My hand went fishing into the tight pocket of my jeans, finally freeing my phone from it. I usually paid the device little to no attention during matches, superstitious reasons, but I couldn’t help but bring this up while I could. While Neymar and his usual source of confidantes weren’t around.

I headed into my inbox, cycling past the usual group messages that littered my inbox and headed into my thread with Neymar. Conveniently his name in my phone was simply an emoji of a cake.

A story to be explained later.

I traveled further up the thread and silently handed the phone over to Bryce who took it with an inquisitive, raised eyebrow. He asked no questions but simply began reading what was on the screen for him to process. Nearly 24 hours later and I was still processing it myself.

Me, Neymar, the word love, all encompassed in the same message.

At first I had read the message as if it was a mistake, maybe thinking that my reading glasses were as scratched and damaged as my mother liked to complain they were but hours later the text still remained.

Love u.

That was all the text message from Neymar had said and sure, it was that shorthand form of an I love you that most women complained about whenever their boyfriend sent it, complaining about the laziness behind it all to omit the I and the additional letters of y and o but for me it was a huge step from a man I didn’t even know considered me anything past the body that kept him warm some late nights with sex omitted from the equation.

Yes, Neymar and I had never physically been together but emotionally, we were like that.

I just didn’t know that the that included his thoughts of loving me. Me of all people.

The thing about Ney was he was a bit washy at times meaning there were days where he was incredibly sweet and made my knees weak while there were other nights I couldn’t even get a hold of him because he would skip our nightly conversations for fun nights out with Gil.

I didn’t ask for much. Attention here and there was all that I really could demand in a friendly capacity. It wasn’t like we were dating but the delight that briefly flickered in the orbs of Bryce showed that this was a welcome, and a bit surprising, occurrence. “He told you he loved you?” He slowly began passing the phone back off to me which I took, glancing down at the message I had looked at numerous times throughout the day before sliding it securely back into my pocket.

“He did.”

“You never responded though. I’m confused. You just broke off into some conversation about Narcos thirty minutes later and he let you just ignore his message?” The disbelief was readily heard in his tone and I sheepishly cowered some in my seat. I realized my stupid mistake without having to be reminded of it.

“Yeah…well…I didn’t really know how to respond so I waited a bit and then I felt ridiculous for not responding at all so we started talking about the last few episodes. Which reminds me did you see the episode whe—“

I was quickly cut off with an outstretched warning hand. “No spoilers. But what? That’s crazy. You can’t just ignore the guy saying he loves you.”

“I know. I know. I just…” My sentence trailed and my thought process was broken as soon as screams erupted around us. I had let myself get too distracted apparently because when I stood to see what was going on on the field, the players were all gathered into a hug and celebrating a goal. I clapped with enthusiasm, everyone else standing up and excited in the box as well except the two prissy girls that had decided standing up and clapping was too much work.

Goodness, I couldn’t wait to rid myself of them.

The game progressed and by the end, I was a happy fan, chanting along and singing with Bryce as we descended the many steps with everyone else in our group following slowly behind. We would have to keep busy for at least the next hour before Neymar was free to end his day and head off with us.

Time seemed to go quickly as I tweeted off my congratulations for the team and talked more with Bryce, purposely avoiding the blonde and brunette still being entertained by Gil and a few others.

Bryce and I were linked as his arm was draped around my waist and mine his, our silliness briefly showing as we broke off into chants and songs once again. Ney chuckled as soon as he saw us, walking up just shaking his head and laughing.

“Alright. Quit embarrassing yourselves.” He snaked his hand between us to cut off the contact though in a playful manner replacing Bryce’s body with his own. He gave off one of those soft smiles that was hard to describe but I knew behind it he wanted to say a lot more than he did. He didn’t have much time to before everyone else was sauntering up to us with congratulations. B&B as I liked to call them now as I had completely forgotten their names led the pack.

“Congrats on the win.” The blonde’s outstretched hand reached out to delicately run against Neymar’s arm in a flirtatious manner while her counterpart stood with a toying smirk.

“Thanks, Cass.”

So that was her name…

“And Lei. Thanks for coming,” he nodded off to the brunette.

She took that as an opportunity to step forward and speak. “Sooo we were probably going to head and grab some food then maybe take a night out. Coming?” The poke of her arched eyebrow showed that maybe she was hinting at more than a night of drinks. Yet another moment I felt nauseous but when I tried to snake my arm from around Neymar to separate our bodies, he just used his hand to push my hip closer into his, his eyes still remaining fixated on the woman.

“I think I’m going to stay behind this time but thanks.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. We sort of had plans,” he said as he pointed between the two of us. I temporarily showed my confusion before fixing my face. The two women seemed disappointed but the rest of the group did not, probably thankful they wouldn’t have to fight for their attention with Neymar missing.

He briefly said his goodbyes and so did I before he was pulling me in the opposite direction of everyone else, his arm still comfortably draped around my shoulder.

“We made plans today?”

He gave off a soft chuckle and shook his head. “No but I feel like we have some talking to do.” He removed his arm and stopped our walking as we temporarily stood alone in the deserted hall area. He moved to rest comfortably against the wall with his arms crossed. “My text…”

“Right…Okay. So I really looked like an idiot for not responding but I can explain it.”

“I’m listening.”

“You’re not good for me,” I responded bluntly. He seemed amused as he laughed a bit. “Excuse me?”

“Neymar, you’re…Neymar! You have women like that,” I said in reference to B & B, “chasing after you 24/7 and temptation is probably a bitch. I’ll admit, it’s nice to think that you mean that I love you in a ‘Wow, you could be my girlfriend one day’ sort of way but I think you meant it more as a careful, friendly way of saying you care for me and me saying it back would have an entirely different meaning. I don’t want to dig myself into that hole so many women get caught into falling for the attractive guy friend that every girl wants and having to watch him flutter off with someone else.”

Again, there was another chuckle though much louder and empathic than the last one. “Flutter off? That’s what you think I’m going to do?”

“Is it not?”

“Flutter off with you, yeah. Do you think I just call you to warm my bed and see you in that ridiculous onesie you wear?”

I hit his chest with a playful shove. “Neymar!”

“Okay okay. But I’m serious. I don’t just throw out that word and I was expecting it back. Not some message about a tv show.”

I didn’t respond with words as instead another idea immediately popped in my head. I grabbed for my phone and Ney looked at me with confusion. “What are you doing?”

I offered no explanation but instead began texting the message he had been waiting on for 24 hours. There it was, all spelled out for him to see and coming from me…

When his phone vibrated, he quickly grabbed for it and looked down at my message. A slow smirk spread honey slow across his lips. His eyes flickered back and forth between me and the message. “You didn’t spell it out.”

“What?”

“You didn’t say ‘I love you’. You only said ‘love u too’. You’re missing a bit.” He flashed me his screen as if I hadn’t just sent the message myself.

“This coming from the guy that did the same thing!”

“Oh shut up.” He took a step closer to me before I could continue protesting and pressed his lips longingly against mine. The tips of our noses meshed before our heads tilted as if on cue, deepening the kiss while his hands wandered to squeeze my behind.

“Mmm,” he groaned against my lips. “Excuse my hands. I’m probably going to end up doing that a lot.”

“So long as you follow it up with a full I love you, I’ll tolerate it.”

gif credit to neybutt

I just love this photo so much (x)

Walking among the California redwoods, drifting blank-brained on a break from college, I got to thinking about shoes. I can’t say why, exactly. Perhaps it was because they were touching my feet.

My own shoes were performing admirably, I must admit. I was trudging on mud and bugs and roots and who knows what without feeling much of anything.

And that, I realized in a flash, was a problem. Not that I had been stepping on gross stuff and snuffing out the lives of little things that, frankly, may not have deserved it. The problem was that I really couldn’t tell.

Life and death and dog poop — it all basically felt the same underfoot.

Invisibilia: The Unbearable Lightness Of Footwear

Illustration: Isabel Seliger for NPR

The Signs as Things I've Heard at My Private "All-Girls" School
  • Aries: "SUCK IT TIM"
  • Taurus: "Do you want me to grab her boob? 'Cause I mean, I could..."
  • Gemini: "Why are there monks roaming the halls?"
  • Cancer: "Marti Hardy partied too hard-y"
  • Leo: "Nope, I refuse to touch you. Give me my shoe!"
  • Virgo: "I need to read about the Holocaust. Leave me in peace!"
  • Libra: "Can I make all the numbers ten?" "NO" "Can I make all the base numbers ten?" "...Sure"
  • Scorpio: "We're going to use a volumetric flask-" "Like the ones you use to cook meth!"
  • Sagittarius: "STOP STROKING ME"
  • Capricorn: "You DO need to sacrifice goats to enter Hale (Note: Hale is my name)!...wait shit I meant Hell"
  • Aquarius: "OH MY LORD JESUS" "...Rachael, you're Jewish"
  • Pisces: "Ok so YOU'RE North Korea"