Tommy Bahbuh

this one’s a doozy, not gonna lie.

it is a story that was told one by one. in person, through text in all caps, through text in all lowercase, and over the phone to distances near and far.

want to hear it?

it started a while ago, probably too long ago. i had a crush on a boy.

we were all the way out in the boonies at some overpriced artist tabling event,
and a situation occurred, as they do.
our group of four people and two cars needed to be split for the hour long drive back home.
so we split it.
and then me and him.

before that day, it had been just a suspicion.
do i really like him, or is it just this situation?
i didn’t know him that well, after all.
we met in the spring, and now it was fall.

we drove back in the dark of a lightning storm.
the flashes of light were exciting and warm.
and as we were talking, conversation was easy,
i decided i liked him, even if his puns were too cheesy.

i had a crush on a boy, he was witty and slim,
i wondered what would happen if i ever told him…


On a sun-breezy January day in the Bay, Justin and Sami slump on the walls of boxes in the crowded checkout lines of the outer city warehouse. Things are at a crawl. It’s Saturday at noon, so it’s pretty busy, and Justin jumps right in.

“Hey, now that I’m here, and we won’t be talking as frequently, are you ever going to talk to *******?”

Sami sputters like a broken sink. Interesting conversation topic, buddy.

“Oh… uh… yes! Yeah. I think I’m gonna write him a letter.”

Justin looks at her, skeptical. He was one of the first people she confided in about her affections. He had given her advice on how to reveal her feelings.

“A letter? Interesting. Just… be sure to let me know how it goes.”

“I will. Haha…”

At this point, Justin is referring to the many times Sami said she would talk to *******, but never actually did. Because there were a lot.

Like that one time in March after the thing, or that other time in May before the big trip, and then that time in August after the big trip…

The calls, talks and DTR’s she said she’d have, but never actually did.

When you’ve never been close to anything like a relationship in your life, like Sami, it happens to be preferable to procrastinate. This boy Sami liked, he probably didn’t like her anyway. She could just sit on it. Put it in her back pocket, and stay friends, because things would be better that way.

But the feelings, they persisted. Hanging out one on one became more frequent. And the feelings, they didn’t go away.

So then came that time in January, when she actually did something.

it was monday, and i was alone for the afternoon. home from work early, i didn’t do much else that day except write the letter. as the daylight sank and the low glow of my laptop screen keyed my face, i let my feelings flow out of me.

and i wrote a very guarded letter, because i didn’t think he had any sort of feelings for me at all, and besides, our friendship was more important to me than anything else. if he didn’t like me back, that was something i said i could get over.

a quick read through,
giggly glances from roommates,
print, fold, seal, stamp.

it was raining as i walked it to the bluebox.

as i dropped the plain envelope i realized how bland it was – i didn’t put any stickers or decorations on it, or even give him a funny name –

but it was in the belly of the big blue box now.

i finally did something.

(i quickly texted justin, too)

all week, my roommates really really wanted to get the mail with me. when 5pm came around i was either prompted to go get it myself or on the way to the mailbox with one of them.

we’d look through the letters to see if there was anything good. and all week there wasn’t.

i knew they were waiting for a response letter.

i don’t think he’s going to write back that quickly. he’s kind of lazy and i don’t think he even “likes me” likes me…

friday night we went to the mailbox. and inside was a letter from *******.

i ran back inside.

ripped open the letter.

skimmed it hectically, trying to focus on the beginning, but skipped around until i was unable to read anything.

i threw it at courtney and told her to read it to me because i simply couldn’t.

he asked me out on a date.

and i was immediately confused.

how could he have responded to my letter so fast?

mail doesn’t work that fast… i’ve used mail before… it doesn’t work that fast!!

look at the date!

yeah! he responded already?? how could he have gotten my letter the same day i sent it?

no, look at the date dummy! same date!


you two sent letters to each other on the  s a m e  d a y .

WHAT. same day??
he likes me?
he’s *liked* me?
a boy likes me?

There were conditions, of course.

It is important to note now that Sami has an impending deadline of living in the Los Angeles area. In July, she’s moving to Malawi for two years to be a missionary teacher.

This complicates things. But it doesn’t stop them.

The conditions were outlined as such:

Sami and ******* were to go on three dates, and at the end, re-evaluate.

Keep it caj, as the kids say.

we went on our three dates, and they were simply wonderful. there were more letters, lots of texting, hours of adventures and walking, and a bit of hand holding thrown in there, too.

the first two dates were fueled by excitement, definitely.

he was very sweet, and i began to fall for him. i let myself go there, even though we said we were trying to hold it all very lightly.

malawi felt like something we could work through. trust in friendship had already been established, and i felt like it could work. i wanted it to work.

and perhaps i got too fixated on that.


Driving at 60 miles an hour with nothing to talk about. Or really, nothing Sami wants to bring up on her own. Beth shifts in her seat. She faces Sami.

“Do you think you know what you want to say for date number three?”

Interesting topic of choice, bub.

Sami takes a deep breath.

She squints at the road ahead, as if it’ll help her process faster. It kind of does.

“I want to date… I think it can work, even if we do long distance.”

“Ok. But you should know, he’s a little slower than you. He might not be there yet.”

She squints some more.

The way he’s been texting her, it seems like it can work.

“I think we’re at the same place… it seems like we are.”


we weren’t.


recovery was…


it was hard.

i’ve never been so attentive to my emotions.

and revealing them to my friends was not easy.

i was much more selective with who i let in about this than the ridiculous rom-com simultaneous letter sending situation.

and i think that was the right thing for me to do. God gave me just the right people at just the right times, as only He would do.

but it was weird. like i finally understood what “this” felt like; as if i unlocked something, a new subfolder in the empathy section of my heart.

i am not a feeler. i am what myers-briggs boxes in as a “thinker”, and am a little bit autistic when it comes to reading myself. i kept wondering when it would go away. when i would stop crying, when i would stop needing hugs, stop replaying what happened on the third date over and over in my head.

i felt broken.

and i felt hopeless.

i mean, this whole thing took over a year to get started… would someone ever bounce into my life like this ever again? and how long would that take?

i thought this was the perfect story. friends first, mutual attraction, a letter revealing a desire for deeper connections, and then a relationship.

but that’s not what happened.

this story ends the way a lot of independent movies with misleadingly good trailers end— unsatisfying, disappointing, a bit of a let down.

acts i & ii were A+ content, very enjoyable.

but it ends in a way you weren’t expecting.

my very own independent movie.








march 2017

a group of six are jammed into a car for five. the ride from long beach to santa monica is far.

headed to a moth mainstage event at ucla’s royce hall, she tells the group about how a boy she had a crush on in middle school goes there now.

“thomas barber—“




teeben wouldn’t let up.

she wondered if he liked her.

2 thoughts on “Tommy Bahbuh

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