Two years ago, I was going through my long distance relationship with my current ex. We were 3 hours away from one another and most of the times, I would see him whenever I went home for school breaks and holidays. He came up to see me very rarely, but I now know that I probably would have disliked driving at 5:30 or 6PM to go see my significant other for just a day and a half. Whatever. He is not the focus in this entry.
During this time, there was a guy that I always saw in the coffee shop I went to. I did not personally know him, but I recognized his face from my freshman year because he was usually in my dorm building. He had randomly added me on Facebook during freshman year and I would just accept people who I recognized, even if I did not necessarily “know” them. Dumb, right? Anyways, come junior year during my LDR, I began to see this particular guy more often because he and I had the same class only his section met before mine did. So, every time he would leave from the classroom, we would run into each other in the hallway as I was coming in for my class. In little time, we began simply smiling at one another in humanly recognition. We saw each other in the coffee shop practically every day at least twice a day, as well as every other day in between our mutual class. It was nice to smile at a friendly face.
After a few months of this, I was sitting in my usual corner table at the coffee shop and he came over. I cannot exactly remember how he introduced himself other than him flipping a chair and sitting in it backwards, with a huge smile on his face. He said, “We honestly see each other every day and I do not know your name. How are you doing on this fine day?” And at first, I was a little freaked out. I did not know who he was and my naive self thought, “I am in a relationship, so back off.” Yet, I have to admit, I had always seen him from afar and was curious to know who he was. He seemed to know everyone in the coffee shop, expressed lots of friendly energy, and had this free-spirit essence. That was my first impression. We got to know one another slowly, though at first it was just him asking me for a pencil in the coffee shop just so he could come to say hey. We then realized we were “friends” on Facebook and we then began to message one another way too frequently. He would say that he would buy me coffee since he had asked to borrow too many of my pencils and lost one or two; he insisted that we cook together because we both said to enjoy it, or get lunch at a local eatery, which only served locally grown farm produce. The goody-two-shoes I was did not let that happen immediately. But with time, he would come sit with me at the coffee shop to listen to all of his eclectic music collection or read an intellectual book. He spoke Spanish, which was (and still is) incredibly sexy to me. He was indeed a free spirit who wanted to travel to South America and explore the Patagonia, then make his way to Europe, eventually learn more Romantic languages, possibly do Peace Corps, and eventually go to Graduate school (I think) in Germany since it would be cheaper than studying in the United States.
We would endlessly talk about our dreams and our views on the world in terms to politics, religion, sustainability, languages and culture. I would be lying if I said that I did not have the biggest crush on him because I did, but my fidelity to my boyfriend was a much stronger force. I made myself put all of my possible feelings of him in the back of my head. This guy from the coffee shop was in other words, the real person I had always imagined myself with: he possessed a sense of wonder without showing the fear of the unknown, rather, he welcomed it. He was easy to talk to and I felt that though I was the more quiet and reserved person, while he was a ball of energy, I had found a kindred spirit in my favorite little coffee shop. He seemed to enjoy my company too, because on campus he would come around and sit on the grass with me as well. We made plenty of walks from campus to our little coffee shop and eventually, we did go eat at the local eatery. Ha, we rushed because we both had class in 30 minutes but were starving and campus food sounded unappealing. I forced myself to think that this is how he was with everyone because the minute I began to think otherwise, I knew I would be in trouble.
I would say that we became pretty good friends and I was strangely not too scared of thinking that he could actually like me (if that were to have been the possibility). At the same time, I almost did not want to know because I enjoyed his company too much. And yet, he always made fun of me for having a boyfriend and said it must suck to not see him often. I proudly would tell him how my then boyfriend and I were “awesome”–communication, love, understanding, blah, blah, blah.
He would laugh at me. “You are so young and you speak so convinced! Are you going to marry this guy?” I said of course.
He laughed again and continued, “I cannot even see myself in a relationship.. I would be a terrible boyfriend. I just know that I would never be too aware of certain details like important dates, then the girl would break up with me. Ah, plus, maybe I am a bit of a free spirit and do not know how to be tied down, you know? Haha, and love…love is just confusing.”
I would tell him that he would fall in love eventually when he least expected it and that this girl (whoever she was) would probably help him settle down. What he said next has stuck with me and I laugh quietly every time I remember:
“I’ll tell you what. If you and I are 30 years old and we’re both single, I will marry you. I want to be your back-up husband because you have a big heart and I get the feeling by that time, you’d be the only person who could truly love someone as crazy as me.”
I laughed and said, “Hey, at least our children would be Spanish-speaking cuties! It’s a deal then, sir!”
We thought for a moment what our hypothetical married life would consist of, imagining going to farmer’s markets, living sustainably, and more than likely owning far too many books. We changed the subject and our lives continued after that conversation never taking it seriously.
He was scheduled to graduate a semester earlier than me and would then head off to my parents’ motherland to teach English to students. In December, a day or so before he graduated, we went out to dinner to a sushi place that he had not gone to before. This would be the last time I saw him and I think he was making his goodbyes with all of his closer friends. From the last time we had eaten out together, he had paid for my meal and I felt like I owed him something. So, for our last dinner together, I paid. He almost did not let me but our waitress exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, this is too cute!” She then looked at him and said, “You’ve got to let your girl pay every once in a while if she offers to.” With that, she was off to charge my debit card and the two of us busted out laughing, mimicking in weird voices hypothetical pet names for one another. Goodness, I was going to miss him bunches. I did like him, but I knew that it could have never worked–he was meant to show me what a legitimate friendship with a guy could be and not one that had been brought forth by my boyfriend’s circle.
At another moment he had told me, “Look, you are beautiful but you have got to believe me that I am not trying to like, get with you. It is very clear to me that you have a boyfriend. You are just an awesome girl, I love practicing my Spanish with you and sharing music, and overall just love your company. Remember, you wouldn’t want a boyfriend like me.” Something along those lines is what he said…
Fast-forward to recently, we rarely speak nowadays. He has indeed ventured around South America, but did not last very long with his English teaching because he told me the job was “bullshit.” Instead, he traveled throughout the Andes Mountains. He then came back to the states and lived in by the Gulf of Mexico. Now, he is over 2800 miles away from me. And here I am, stupidly thinking back to how I should have told him that I had liked him for his spirit, his dreams, his way of seeing the world. Saying this to him would have probably done nothing. He might have just shrugged and smiled saying, “Hon, you’re awesome, but I think we’re better off as friends for your sake.”
Stupid, stupid girl. Hahaha.