It was spring, 2011. I stood outside of the restaurant on a sunny day, waiting for him. I pretended to be busy on my phone. I remember the dark denim shorts, striped shirt, and maybe even the necklace and hat I was wearing. I waited longer than I expected. You know how that goes, when you are energized and brave from whatever you'd just come from, on a high to go right into the next exchange? Then you find yourself waiting. You must sustain your nonchalance and bravery, but it inevitably starts to wane.
He finally pulled up, and I pretended to just have gotten there myself. I was as casual as can be. We seemed to be the only ones in the restaurant. But it's possible I am now remembering it wrong. What I do remember was the fact that there was nothing to lose. This was the first time we were meeting outside of the place we knew each other. The place was the gym I went to regularly, and where he worked. It's always daunting to go outside the context of where you know someone for the first time. When I say there was nothing to lose, it was because I was certain of two things. Romance was not a possibility for me, and we'd have nothing to talk about. Not really. Not when it was just the two of us and the safety of the gym had been taken away.
Nearing four years later, I remember four things. That I was never truly sure about ruling out romance, or that I believed we'd have nothing to say. Not down in my bones. That he ordered a delicious vegetarian dish and gave me a bite, and that I have craved it to this day but still haven't gone back to get it. That he was dressed in all black, (and although he will argue with me on this) I was positive he took so long because he tried to find the perfect "I didn't try to hard" clothes. And the last thing (the one I see as clear as if it were yesterday) was the way strands of his long brown hair hung down over his eyes, and the look in his blue eyes as he peeked out from under his hair at me. He knew his hair hung just that way. I knew he knew it. It was like he was almost posed. A look he'd mastered. He knew just what he looked like, and how to angle his face so his hair would so perfectly and nonchalantly fall. Unreal. I'd never seen a boy do this. But then again I'd never seen a boy so beautiful.
I don't remember how long we stayed, what was said when we parted ways, or how the hikes together started.
I can't remember much, other than that was the beginning of letting a new presence into my life. How can we ever know, each time we do that, just how impactful it might be…or not. Some relationships (both platonic and romantic) don't stick. But how do we know at the precipice of simplicity, at the start of it all, just how life changing it might be?
Go back with me again. It's nice weather. The sun is out. I'm in my denim shorts and striped shirt. I'm pretending to be busy on my phone. I've also put together an outfit that says I didn't try too hard, even though I've made sure my ponytail falls just over my shoulder like so, and my makeup is perfect.
I'm waiting for him. My bravery is waning. Am I nervous? Why am I nervous? Romance is off the table. We'll have nothing to talk about. This will be a one time thing, I'm sure of it. My life has been my life, every day, and every year, and every breath up until this moment.
This is all I know. This is my world.
And it's all about begin.
Thanks for reading,