It began with a meeting that could sum up what the whole relationship ended up as: unconventional, not in the slightly quirky folks meeting perchance in a coffee shop like some dime-store teen novel garbage, but the meaning of unconventional that goes with the combination of Shakespeare and a Frisbee…which is exactly what happened. I hadn't meant to beam her upside the head with the vinyl disc of doom, but maybe that's why I have to wear these humongo glasses, which I'd been dumb enough to take off…in short I couldn't see shit, and I knocked the book right out of her hands—needless to say I felt like a total asshat.
"Hey, loose something?" she looked up at me with a smirk before the first syllable of 'sorry' had even left my mouth, waving the Frisbee at me. I'm pretty sure I thought love at first sight was total bullshit until she launched it at me with spot-on precision, the vinyl making a nice Thunk! Against my head since I couldn't see it until it was too late to react. Yep. Definitely want to get to know her, but before I could go up there and lay on my smooth…okay…my dork-ass moves, before I could even put my glasses on to put a face to a sweet throw…she was gone.
I saw her again on the first day of my summer job, Nothing special, just the local roller skating rink—y'know, screaming kids and sticky counters for six to eight hours a day at minimum wage—the usual summertime hell for the poor college-bound folk trying to lessen the debt they're about to sell themselves into for some shitty piece of paper. Anyways, I walked in, tired as hell from the party the night before despite it being three in the afternoon, and there she was, leaned up against the wall, talking to a customer. Her voice being the tell, but with my glasses on this time, I got to see more of her than some blurry outline. She was of Asian descent, fair skin, big brown eyes, and shiny dark hair pulled up into a bun aside from a few wisps that fell in her face. As much as I didn't like to be called one of those hopeless romantic saps…I couldn't stop staring. Bright blue skates were laced on her feet and fast approaching as she glided over to me once she was done with whatever Mrs. What's-her-Face wanted, nose buried in the same book I'd whacked out of her hands a few days earlier, how she managed to do that without bumping into someone was beyond me.
"So, looks like Ol' Zeke just left the place to you and me…" I said, looking around, aside from our boss himself, who was manning the snack bar, we were the only two people working the joint. To be fair, it was a small skating rink, but in a small hick town like this it was one of the only things to actually do around here. It was going to be a madhouse in a matter of hours.
"I suppose so," she shut the book, looking up at me with those large, doll-like eyes. "Forget your Frisbee this time?"
"Shakespeare." I examined the worn copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream, "but school's over! This is a bit heavy for reading for fun, ain't it?" Shit. I mentioned school to the Asian. I hoped like hell she didn't take it as one of those dumbass smart-Asian stereotype jokes. If sticky germ infested skates weren't laced on my feet, I'd probably have shoved my foot in my mouth.
"I like it." She just shrugged. Shit. Was that good or bad? "I can actually read it for pleasure instead of for things to BS an essay based on that stuff the teachers overanalyze the text for."
"That's the spirit!" I laughed. "It's just funny…because…y'know.." My foot was beginning to look more and more appetizing, sticky skates or not.
"I'm Asian? Yeah I wish the smart thing applied, I suppose you could say I'm more of a…B-sian. Oh god that sounded less cheesy in my head…"
"If we're gonna work together, might as well get to know each other." I grinned, I could definitely hang with this chick. "I'm Dave."
"Sounds familiar, did you graduate with us at Ridgely?"
She shook her head. "Nah, I just moved up here with a couple friends, trying to get settled in this town since I start college around here in a couple months."
"Oh, which one?"
"Bradley school for Art and Design, so what are your big plans?" you could see the drive in her eyes at the mention of the school, it was the kind of passion that made me glad I chose to go to art school, to be surrounded by a bunch of people with that same attitude.
"Oh, nothing big, just this real sweet place known as Bradley School for Art and Design." She laughed again, I liked that sound, it wasn't one of those dumb girly laughs or those halfhearted nose-snort-laugh things you make when you see something funny on Tumblr at 3am, but the genuine full-on grinning laugh that brought a nice shade of pink to the apples of her ivory cheeks. "But no, seriously, what's your major?"
"Haven't really decided yet, probably illustration though."
"Illustration's cool." I said. "I wanna be an architect."
The conversation didn't go much farther than that though, with Zeke having yelled at us to "Quit dallyin'' or something.
We'd swap turns every hour or two, one of us at the rental counter, the other in the rink supervising, stopping to chat on breaks or slower days, with the occasional Denny's or Taco Bell run after the Friday
"Midnight Madness" special shift. From there it led me to telling my pal Archie I had an extra shift to work, or to lie about not having a day off when I normally would or something else to do so Lei and I could hang out outside of work down by the stream behind the old high school, having wars with the ice-cold water in the 90 degree heat, drawing on the overhanging bridge with sidewalk chalk, and eating the wild raspberries and honeysuckles straight off the bushes that grew along the banks from the stream, watching the sun set while she taught me how to make flower crowns and I taught her about photography. I wasn't ashamed or anything, but Arching could be pretty high-strung, with that and all the obnoxious 12-year olds we always had at the roller rink, I needed my peace and quiet every so often. With Lei it was different, time moved slower with her, and I reveled in every minute of it.
"I brought us the finest Americanized-Asian cuisine around these parts." I said one day on break. It'd been a slow day for business with the middle and high schools starting back to school that week, so Zeke didn't mind our break being a bit longer than scheduled. We'd shared our banter over fried rice and egg-foo-young, and I felt myself growing more and more apprehensive as the end of the meal approached.
"Aw, they didn't include one of those little fortune cookies." She puffed out her cheeks, pouting peeking in the bag once we'd finished.
"I'm sure they did," I took the bag from her, slipping them discreetly out from the plastic bag in my jacket, praying the recipe I'd found wasn't awful, "here they are." crinkling the bag to make it sound as though I'd pulled off the wrappers. I cracked mine open and passed hers across the tray.
"Huh, mine's empty." I feigned surprise. "That's pretty…UN-fortunate."
"Wow, you're such a dork." She giggled, cracking hers open, glancing at the paper before her wide dark eyes met mine. "You are a super dork, you know that right?"
"So is that a yes or…?" I asked, trying to keep my voice as calm as possible.
"Where did you learn to make fortune cookies? This took some serious planning…" she giggled, folding up the hand-written 'will you go out with me" message I'd slipped inside the cookie, sliding it toward me. I unfolded it to find a girly looking "Yes" scribbled underneath.
"But seriously—." She pressed.
"Amazing what you can learn on the internet in three hours." I winked.
"But I'm your nerd." I swatted at her playfully.
Our first date was probably the shittiest thing ever—lots of junk food and shitty half-priced mini golf that we both sucked ass at and eventually gave up trying to hit the ball into the damn elephant's mouth, opting instead to lay on the hood of my car to watch stars. More dates and impromptu movie nights and make-out sessions followed, and 'I love yous' became second nature. It was seriously some shitty tween novel type stuff, but better, because this was real, and it was great.
I felt bad almost, being so caught up in my newfound romance that I was starting to forget my friend, one in particular, Archie. But once school started, we were sharing a dorm, us and some Shaun guy, but once classes started I only had so much time outside of school, and most of that was spent at the roller rink, where my girlfriend just so happened to work as well. And with no parents or curfews, the late Friday night shifts led to carpooling, which led to dinner afterwards, which led to talking, which led to laughing, which quickly became touching, to kissing, which ultimately led to me stumbling in the apartment at three or four in the morning, half dressed, hair a mess but happy as hell and happily in love, but not everyone else was.
"I never see you anymore Dave…and we live together." Archie whined one morning before class. I came clean and told him the truth…well…sort of. Not the whole truth, just that there was now a girl I had my eyes on and that she had me a little preoccupied. I didn't mention we'd been together for a months, or all the sex, but I don't think Archie would be able to handle all that stuff yet.
"Can I meet her?" his eyes were so innocent.
"Yeah, when I ask her out, you can meet her." I rubbed the back of my neck nervously at the thought of the two halves of my life melding together, it could either go swimmingly or horribly, horribly wrong. It seems like that conversation occurred just in time, during class I had a message waiting on my phone.
From: Lei To: Lei From: Lei To: Lei
So…my roommates kicked me out over that fight last night.
That's not good, where are you gonna go?
Not sure. Can't afford a place on my own and my scholarship doesn't cover housing…might have to move back home.
NOOOO :( I'd miss you too much babe..stay with me~
"What the Dean doesn't know won't hurt him," I assured him.
"But where will she sleep?" he asked.
"She can sleep in my room." His brown eyes doubled in size at the thought. God, that kid was so innocent. I mean, yeah, we would be doing a hell of a lot more than sleeping but Archie was one of those 'save it for marriage' folks.
"I'll sleep on the floor." I lied. I don't know what it was, I knew he was going to find out sooner or later, but I couldn't bring myself to tell him, I felt like him knowing would destroy our little family. He acted so…weird around her, not bad, not mean…just odd. But we were all happy together, clipping coupons to save on food, ordering pizza every Wednesday night, parties, doodle wars, Netflix marathons, everything seemed to fall into place, I have my best friend and my girlfriend by my side, with a future that is nothing but bright to look forward to. The rest of my life is gonna be great