I like you, and I think that if you thought about it you'd know you like me too. (chapter four)

January 20, 2012

{continued from chapter three}

Our high school's hockey team was having an unprecedentedly good year, which is only worth noting because it explains why I was getting ready spend my Friday night at a hockey game. I developed the habit of attending as many outside-school events as possible on the off chance that a very particular boy would be there. Then I could see him, being there, and maybe he could see me, also being there. It's all so very complex. This technique only had a passing success rate but it didn't hurt to show up and stand around with my friends. I didn't have anything else to do anyway.

In preparation for an evening of potential boy-lurking I took my time and dressed accordingly, something of a misnomer because what I wore should not be accorded to anyone, ever. I slid on a tank top– which was immediately completely obscured by a giant powder-blue hooded sweatshirt. With matching visor. And white shoes with powder-blue trim. But! It was all okay, because I also had little blue earrings. See? So much better. My fashion playbook at the time read: #1 make everything the same color #2 wear tight pants. At least you can't go wrong with tight pants.

I waved goodbye to my parents on my way out the door and drove off into the night, because I could drive myself places, alone. Those were the days! When I arrived the parking lot at the rink was surprisingly packed and I was relegated to a spot several states away. This is what you get for showing up halfway through the game, idiot, I thought to myself, though in me-of-the-past's defense it takes a long time to look that fine.

I hot-stepped it across the parking lot, eager to meet up with my friend who was already there and get out of the icy wind. As I rounded a line of partially obscured Explorers I bumped directly into someone in the dark. To my great dismay I was face to face with someone I knew, someone I had dated seriously and whom I was not all that excited to bump into unexpectedly.

"Oh, uh. Hi." I stumbled. Cut to inner monologue: Shit shit shit.

I had that uncomfortable feeling you get when you know the other person has seen you be a complete idiot and you'd really rather pretend that never happened. I think they call it 'shame.' Our breakup was what I had thought was long-forgotten history. It was also not pleasant, and completely my fault. Please, let's revisit this moment in soul-crushing detail.

"Hi. How've you been?" he said, and against my better judgement I forced my feet to stop moving because he looked like he expected me to actually stop. We made a following attempt at tiny small talk in the long cold dark before we parted ways. I'm not sure which one of us was happier to escape, me and my queasy regrets or Mr. look at this HOT TICKET you missed in all baby blue.

I cursed under my breath as I rushed on towards the door. So. Great. This was how tonight was going to go. The rink was packed, it was nearly the championship or whatever it was that I was completely oblivious to at the time, I was late, and alone, and now completely rattled by unexpected parking-lot encounter.

I pulled the door open and was greeted by a wave of only slightly warmer than outside air. My friend was milling around near the endcap and I quickly wove a path to join her. The game was more than halfway over which was irrelevant because as soon as I walked up I could see the very particular boy standing only a few paces away.

My breath caught in my throat. Hooooooly crap. Had I not been standing in public at the time I would have needed to put my head between my knees and breathe into a paper bag. My night just went from zero to eleven. He was wearing the pants, and a leather jacket, and his dark curly hair was looking particularly ruffled. The only way it could have looked better was with my fingers in it.

This is the part where we would all like to give me of the past that little push I needed to go over there, because there was no way in hell my frozen, terrified feet were moving on their own.

Lucky for all of us, at that moment there was Laura. Acting as the living voice for us out here screaming NOW NOW GO GO! she took hold of my shoulders and physically forced me forward so I was standing next to him, looking out over the ice.

"Hey, do you know my friend Jamie? You do now. I have to go." And she walked away and left me there, alone. With him. I have never wanted to punch and hug someone so hard at the same time in my life.

"Hi," I breathed, as we stood with our shoulders nearly touching.

"Hi."

We exchanged comments about the game for a few minutes, we made made small talk. It was official– he could not longer deny knowing I existed, or that I was that girl who wanted to date him. I glanced over at his face occasionally and I tried to remember to keep breathing because oh my god he smells good and he's right there oh my god.

After a lull in the conversation during which I was thinking about how awkward I was and he was probably thinking about hockey he said, "I going to a party at my friend's house after this. We're going–"

I interrupted him, "I'm going someplace. To a radio station. My friend works there." It was not a lie exactly, because I did go there later, but I hadn't planned to. If he was going to dismiss me like that well then I was going to be busy too.

The final period buzzer rang and right at the perfectly wrong moment a girl walked up behind us and interrupted the best moment of my life thus far. It was the girl from my class who he had been rumored to be dating. She steadfastly ignored me standing there and he couldn't seem to disengage from her grips as she talked and talked and talked and talked.

I slowly backed away, turned around, and walked out without another word.

Well shit.

{all your questions to be answered in chapter five}
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