He walks into the lobby, beard perfectly trimmed, hair intact, well-dressed. He comes up to me before everyone else and says, “Hey Natalia, how are you?” Flustered as always I awkwardly reply with the usual, “Good. And you?” And he smiles and says, “Really good thanks. A little nervous about the speech.” I respond back, “I’m sure you’ll do great.” And I really was so sure he would. He greets the others around us, smiling and genuine.
I have known him for three years now, and every time I see him, he always makes sure to say hello. My ex does the same thing; I am drawn to people like them because I feel as though they are safe to be around, that if other people like them then they must be good people. And people only say hi to people they actually like, right? (turns out this may actually just be me). But this boy is different from my ex when he walks into a space, his energy is warmer. He illuminates a space without even saying anything at all.
He goes up to the microphone and starts strong. In the midst of his speech, however, he pauses and breaks out of the lines he probably carefully composed, improvising from his heart instead. The whole lobby feels this shift and swoons. He talks about how his project has driven him to be a better person, that it gives him purpose, that anyone who gets involved is changed forever. I hold on to his every word, believing and feeling what he is saying. There is no doubt in my mind. And that’s when I think Wow, I kinda dig this guy.
I am delighted at the thought and the possibility of spending a day holding his hand and talking about poetry and music and animals. I think about what it would be like to walk to the lake and jump in with him. I think about what it would be like to sit on his lap in the library while we both read our favorite books to each other.
When I catch myself in this fantasy I can’t help but smile because of the sheer impossibility of it. I can never have this person and this is the first time that this has really ever happened to me. He has a girlfriend, a long-term, long distance girlfriend he has been dating since high school. I would never even try and attempt to sabotage something like that (especially given that I’m moving across the country in two months).
But god, it feels good to have a crush again. Ever since I started “seriously” dating at the ripe age of 15, I have found myself adapting to boys who showed interest in me rather than the other way around. We would date and I would grow to love them (and I mean really really love them), but it is nice to imagine what it would be like if I had the choice first. If I decided that I was “sure” of someone before committing to them, if I maybe liked them first.
If there’s anything the last few months have taught me, it’s that I’m a die hard romantic. I want to go to new places, watch weird tv shows, eat spicy foods (if you know me, you know that I have a low tolerance for spicy food because I’m super super white so this is real dedication), and read books in bed with a really awesome and caring partner. And while I know that there are practical aspects of love (like even though falling in love may not be a choice, loving someone for a longer period of time definitely is), I don’t think it is something that should be quantifiable or always rational or perfect. I do not think there is a “right” way to love or to receive love.
And if one really cute guy got me to realize all of this in a matter of seconds just with his smile, then maybe that’s all I really need from him.