Claimer: For once, I DO OWN THIS XD
Summary: In which a man ruminates about meant to be's & foreign phrases.
Though not all people do, some people love routine. There is a certain sense of tranquility when they are able to do the same thing at the same time every day. A feeling that they are safe, that their world is in their control and everything is in their place and as it should be. It is these people I like to watch the most. I am a full-time college student, part-time coffee girl who works at a café on weekdays from 4pm to 8pm. I like to watch these people and get to know them.
Oh, I never speak to them. That would be unprofessional. But nevertheless I become familiar with them, I can see hints of their personality and their soul by the chai latte, the espresso, the Brazilian blend that they order every day. I know who they are by the way they dress, by how neat their tie is tied, if they wear a tie, what they do, which seat they take. It's an interesting way to pass the time, to watch these little mysteries sitting in various poufs and sofas about the comfortable café, to try and solve them.
There is one man in particular who intrigues me. Every day, at exactly three o'clock, he enters the coffee shop, the hem of his comfortable, black beaten coat whipping about in the wind around his scuffed boots. He comes in, orders a cappuccino with two dollops of whipped cream. He pays with cash and, though I have no idea how he achieves such a feat, he always has crisp dollar bills, as if they are delivered to his place right after they've been newly minted at the money factory. He gives a little bow with his head, a half smile on his lips as he thanks me and then turns and sits at a comfortable chair that is situated before a little round table. He takes a sip of his cappuccino, wiping the whipped cream from the corner of his mouth with a finger and sticking it in his mouth as with his other hand he searches within his backpack for his notebook.
Perhaps it is because he uses a notebook that I am so intrigued—everyone else has their laptop out, shiny and black, reflecting the light of the lamps back at me. Notebooks are so nineties-- and yet I feel a sort of warmth when I see him take out the leather-bound book and his pen and bends over to write in it.
I wonder what it is that he writes?
The man stares at the notebook before him, tapping the pen gently against his lips. Then he leans forward and begins to write in a smooth and firm hand.
It's ridiculous, but I still keep his number in the phonebook of my cell phone. Every time I get a new cell phone and transfer the numbers, there is a group of obsolete numbers, the ones which don't work anymore, those that have changed, and the ones that just don't matter--those that I never plan to call again. While those numbers disappear into the ether of insignificance and dust, I still keep hold of his number. I have called it, on three separate nights, at the peak of my desperation and hopelessness, the nights I had to ask most urgently, "Love is true, isn't it? It exists?"
Well love may be true, it may be false; it may exist and it may not. He was not able to answer these questions of mine as all three times I was answered by the three-dial tone and the cheerful voice of the automated woman saying, "We're sorry, but the number you are trying to reach has been disconnected…"
Disconnected. And yet I still keep his number in my phonebook, just as I keep the hope of meeting him again, seeing his smile again, close to my heart. I know it won't happen, that it is impossible, that the odds are one to a million and the evens do not have much better statistics. The possibility of meeting him again is as nonexistent as the possibility of him picking up when I call that five-year-old number.
But, like a fool, I keep the number. And, like a fool, I still hope to one day meet him. Just to see his smile, quick and bright as quicksilver, flash across his features. The smile needn't even be aimed at me; just seeing it would be enough.
Who am I kidding? I have a greedy, gluttonous nature; just seeing his smile wouldn't be enough for me. I wish with all my heart that I could be given another, yes yet another, chance to speak to him, to make friends with him, to perhaps fall in love with him and have him be aware of it and have him fall in love with me—the potential for such romance, the wasted potential, it always eats at my heart and my soul. What we could have been would have been storybook perfect, despite the fact that I'm not a princess, he isn't a knight, and we're both men.
We were childhood friends, though perhaps I might have treasured his friendship more than he treasured mine. He was always a popular kid, the adorable type of toddler that you would see in juice commercials talking about the lack of preservatives in their 100! Juice drink. He had big, limpid brown eyes and a smile so open and happy that all that came across it could not help but smile too (except for Mrs. Sweeney, that old hag who never smiled and should never have been a teacher, so cruel and bitter was she…). He was everybody's friend, everyone loved him and yet he always found time to talk to me.
He was a mischievous boy and I was a quiet one, the smart one who always let the troublemakers copy his homework and helped them out. Being somewhat of a romantic and a bit of a fool, I type cast him as the "bad boy" and me as the sweet, slightly nerdy unsure friend who softened his heart and made him see that life wasn't always that terrible and that I'd always be there for him and therefore he wouldn't have to act out anymore and we could all go home and eat cake together and be happy.
It wasn't until the seventh grade that I realized that it wasn't normal to think such things, things that happened in a romance novel, have my heart beat so hard and so fast every time he came to talk to me. It wasn't until the seventh grade that I realized that it was strange that I would blush bright red every time he even brushed by me and that I always grabbed whatever chance I had to be near him and bask in his presence. It wasn't until the seventh grade that I liked him—yes, like-liked him.
Of course, I didn't know what to do. I was only a twelve-year-old boy and hadn't my mother always said it was unnatural and sinful for boys to want to be with other boys the way most boys wanted to be with girls? Had I committed a sin without even meaning to? Would I go to hell and would cockroaches chew at my feet while my head was stuck in a furnace?
To avoid sin, I began to avoid him. When he came towards me in the hallway, I would immediately launch myself into conversation with whoever happened to be standing near me. My desperation to avoid conversation with him overcame my natural diffidence and I began to gather a group of friends around me. In PE, when we could choose our partners, I would always choose one or another of my new friends, completely ignoring him. It wasn't like he needed me anyway; he was doing perfectly fine with that Anne-Marie in that corner over there, wasn't he?
In freshman year, he did not attend the same high school as I did. I tried to forget about it and not think about the pai—well it wasn't pain, exactly. I tried not to think about the hollow feeling, a feeling as if a ball of ice had dropped right down into the pit of my stomach, just sitting there, upsetting me. I tried not to think about him, since thinking about him caused the ball of ice to grow and become, impossibly enough, even colder. Freshman year was also the year that I began dating a guy…he had blond hair, blue eyes, an easy smile and a charmer's words.
It was easy for me to fall in love with him, he always knew what to say and besides, he made me feel as if my "impure" feelings were actually naturally and perfectly fine. It was easy for me to fall out of love with him, too. Throughout high school I went through a series of semi-meaningless relationships in which I would care about those involved, but never as much as I cared about that first boy. I always felt as if I was cheating them out of their time and affection by not caring about them as deeply as I could, so I ended my relationships quickly. The longest relationship I had was two months. The shortest was one week and three days.
Through these relationships, like a vein of silver that could be traced through seemingly valueless rock, I would think about him. He visited the high school once; several of his friends also attended the same high school. When he saw me, he didn't say a word. I didn't either. We passed each other, our unspoken words making the silence between us even louder, my gaze averted from his, his hands in his pocket and his hair falling forward to hide his eyes. After he left, I befriended one of the people who he had come to see, and eventually got his number. I tried to forget the look in his eyes as I looked away, throwing myself into another short and unsuccessful relationship.
Feeling unsatisfied, lost and completely unimpressed by what "romance" had had to offer me, I entered college. My best romance has been the one that never bloomed, the one that had such potential. Now that I think about it, I don't think he was entirely straight. Sometimes he would look at me, as I talked (this was at the time that we were still friends and I did not know/believe that I had committed any sin), he wouldn't look at me so much as a part of me—perhaps my gesturing hands, or my eyes, or my lips….
I am in college now, in my third year. I frequent a coffee shop near my workplace, though I don't stay long as I only have an hour between the time I get off work and the time my classes start. I get approached once in a while; after all, I am not a bad-looking guy. But I don't want a shallow relationship. I don't want to give my kisses away so cheaply and try and forget him. I want to remember him. I miss him, and I admit it fully. It's been five years already since I saw him last, since I got that damn number that doesn't work anymore.
I don't know if I believe in meant-to-be, or soul mates. It'd be a relief actually to wholeheartedly believe in such concepts, because I can just put my fears that this is the one Great Romance that I get, which I ruined, to rest and simply say to myself, "Que sera que sera. If I don't meet him again, it wasn't meant to be" and just leave it at that. But I'm not sure if I do believe in such quaint ideals. Life would be easy if things were that simple, and we all know that life is hard.
It isn't so much that I'm waiting for him. I truly do feel that I will never see him again. Besides, what are the chances the he'll be single if we do meet again? Very slim, he was an extremely good-looking guy with a beautiful, radiant soul. I don't expect fate to do me any favors. I'm not waiting. It's just that, sometimes, I think of him and I wonder…does he ever think of me?
The man with the scuffed boots stands up, unfolding his tall frame from the squashy chair that he'd been ensconced in. He carefully puts his notebook back into his bag, making sure that none of the edges bend, that none of the pages crease. He zips up the bag and picks up his cup of cappuchino, draining it in one go and grimacing at the lukewarmth of the coffee. He walks to the counter, returning the cup and ordering another cappuccino to go.
The girl who is serving is strangely anxious, her hands clumsy on the plastic cap of the Styrofoam cup. She takes the cap out and it takes her a full thirty seconds to realize that there are two caps instead of one. Flushing, she separates the two and puts one on the cup, fitting it snugly with one hand and discarding the extra cap with another.
The man watches her curiously and hands her a crisp five-dollar bell. As the bell on the register chimes when she opens it, she bites her lip and then blurts out, "Do you think you could stay for ten more minutes? Please?"
There is dawning comprehension and consternation in the man's eyes. He is confused. Isn't his orientation obvious? Even to the heterosexual?
He smiles gently, not wanting to hurt her and trying to save her from embarrassment by fibbing, "I'm sorry, I have a meeting for work."
Her face falls and he feels slightly guilty. The guilt deepens when he looks up into her eyes and sees, not the disappointment of a schoolgirl rejected, but a curiously acute disappointment. Disquieted, he takes the cup of cappuccino from her and hastily turns to go, mumbling that she should keep the change.
As he leaves the café, he raises the cup to his lips. The cappuccino tastes bitter.
"I can't believe you were late again! I told you that he always comes here at three and leaves at exactly three twenty three!" The petite brunette scolds her friend, her hands on her hips.
"My dear, you really need to get yourself a boyfriend." The boy with the limpid brown eyes and open smile leans forward to poke the brunette right in the center of her forehead.
She pouts, the light glinting off her pink lip-gloss, "I was scouting him out for you, as you very well know. He's a total hottie but I can tell that he swings…" she waved her hand in a vague swinging motion, suddenly pointing at him, "Well, you know."
He chuckles, the timbre of his voice low as he looks at her fondly, "The only heterosexual person I know who has gaydar…."
"It's your fault! Making me check out guys for you." She huffs, a tendril of hair that has escaped her bun flying up and then settling back on her cheek, "And then not even bothering to show up on time to see the guy I spent so long checking out for you!"
"Que sera que sera. It just wasn't meant to be."