by Amy Clarkin

It can come from nowhere. Eyes meeting across a crowded room. Hands brushing against one another as they hand you a glass. Your name, spoken in an intonation that makes it sound like a secret. It feels clichéd, as though you’ve become an amalgamation of every meet-cute in Hollywood, but your stomach is flipping and your mouth is dry and suddenly you’ve forgotten every possible topic of conversation because they are there and looking at you and that is all you can process right now.

It manifests in different ways. The rush of nerves as you wonder if they’ll be there, at an event with mutual friends, or in the coffee shop you frequent, or at the bus stop you both use to get to work – however it is that you’ve crossed paths and, for those brief moments, intertwined your lives. A leap of your stomach that accompanies a smile directed at you. The flush growing in your cheeks as you feel yourself stumble over your own tongue, responding to soft words spoken like a caress.

There are different levels of crush but all are linked by that universal thrill, that leap of excitement when you see them. There is the far-off crush, the safest option. The person that you see and vaguely wonder about their life, their relationship status, and wile away a monotonous commute every now and then with an idle fantasy of what you would say if you ever got the courage to speak to them. Then you pick up your bag and step off the bus or train and back into your life, the flip-flopping sensation in your stomach fading into an echo as you laugh with friends or cook with flatmates, as you set your mind to your job and your hobbies and the fifty other things going on in your life. The far-away crush is fun, and by far the least reckless – never truly invested in, you are never vulnerable, your heart never truly at risk. It is an escape, a fantasy like the pages of a well-loved book that can be picked up and put down at a moment’s notice.

The known crush is harder. A friend of friend, a co-worker, a classmate, a teammate – the rush is more intense, but so is the risk. The replaying of small moments for hidden messages, for signs that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t only you that feels this way. Wondering ‘will they be there?’ as you arrive at an event, brimming with the delicious anticipation of seeing them, walking a tightrope of exhilaration and sweaty palms. The nerves, the excitement, the ‘do I say hi first?’ conundrum. Outfits meticulously planned, make-up painstakingly applied, slightly shaking hands clutching at a drink, or a clipboard, or something, to hide your nerves.

“There are different levels of crush but all are linked by that universal thrill, that leap of excitement when you see them.”

This digital age offers us so many more opportunities to experience that sudden bolt of excitement. A selfie like on Instagram, a follow on Twitter. A snap chat, a DM, a Whatsapp – so many ways to interact, a plethora of actions to over analyse and discuss at length with friends until even you become exasperated with yourself. It adds a layer of sweetness and excitement that cloaks the greyest of days in a hazy glow of sunshine.

It was easier when we were younger. ‘My friend likes your friend’, five simple words that ignited many a connection. Relationships spanning weeks were the epitome of commitment. Now some of us are getting married and others are cheerfully navigating the world of swiping right and left, a fast-paced land that leaves so many of us lost and confused. Yet, in the midst of it all, the joys of a simple crush still live on. Of hearts beating faster at small touches, at smiles shared and glances being sneakily cast out of the corner of your eye. Of slowly getting to know each other, your conversations lasting long into the depths of the night. The smile that spreads across your face when their name flashes up on screen, or the surge of adrenalin that courses through you when you bump into them unexpectedly.

Unrivalled is the thrill of the greatest crush of all – the reciprocated crush. The moment you realise that it is not one-sided, that these small moments that you have been collecting like precious jewels, the still frames of smiles and looks frozen into your memory and the flirtatious comments and heartfelt messages etched into you heart mean just as much to them as it does to you. The moment when fingers barely touching move to intertwine, holding each other gently, hearts pounding in unison and blood rushing to fill your cheeks.

You swallow nervously, aware that you are about to take a leap, to cross a line that cannot be uncrossed. Then your eyes meet and you smile tentatively at each other and you’re not worried about anything anymore. You don’t know who takes the first step, but suddenly the space between you is gone. Your lips brush, softly, almost questioning at first. The thrill surges, filling you as sparks surround you, and the world condenses to just you, and them, and this moment.

Amy Clarkin | @amyclarkin

Amy is a 27-year-old writer and film reviewer from Dublin. She can generally be found drinking coffee and reading, writing or watching stories.

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