I fell in love with you in a second.
You were wearing a black sweater and tweed pants. I can’t remember your shoes. Shocking, as I usually affix on one’s shoes but they were inconsequential at that moment. Your hair was wildly curly but somehow tamed for the environment, like mine, and you wore glasses with black acetate frames. Just like me. Except you weren’t. Just like me, that is.
I remember this acutely because I was enraged just seconds after meeting you. Okay, it might’ve been hours but to me it felt like seconds. I saw you, you who had invaded my previously perfectly professional place with your you-ness, and that was it. K. knew that I had, probably a few days before that, expressed visual interest in a guy whose name I can no longer remember who worked in a different department. As I was shamelessly looking at the back of your head as you situated yourself into your new cubicle she said, “He’s working here to save up money to propose to his girlfriend.” I was immediately outraged. “He’s engaged!?” I fired back. And K. went, “No not him, him!” Except she didn’t say that second him. She said the name of the guy who is apparently inconsequential as I no longer remember his name. Only his dirty blonde mop of hair.
Regardless, back to you. Whom I fell in love with. In a second.
I felt it even though I gave absolutely no indicators that I did. Had you been more acutely attuned to the inner workings of a one Allison Jones, as you came to be over the coming months, you’d have seen right through me and my false sense of bravado. But you didn’t and so the story continues on.
There was just something about you. I remember the first time I made you coffee. It was probably terrible, as it came from a Keurig, but you were a good sport and even took a sip. Poor soul. I was earnest and so you indulged me (as you always did).
Dear God, this is harder to write out than I imagined it’d be.
So I made you that terrible coffee and because I felt a literal spark on my skin when I accidentally grazed your hand when passing it to you, I ignored you a little more. Because I was a Good Christian Girl, and you were too cool, and too confident, and too casual, and too un-Christian for me to indulge in. So I pushed you away. Until I couldn’t any longer.
So then there was sangria.
Wait, your birthday came before the sangria. I made you a card and you became obsessed with my handwriting—you still are—and kept it hanging in your cubicle for months to come. During the times we weren’t speaking (I’ll get to that later), sometimes when I’d pass by your cubicle I’d quickly take a peek at the wall you hung it on to see if you’d written me off forever and taken it down. You never did, that is until we all left and had to take things off the walls. But anyway.
Back to that sangria.
I sat across from you as we shared the pitcher I practically forced us to share and looked at you with a puzzled look on my face like “Really? This guy?” and it was just bizarre to me that I felt myself compelled to love someone I never thought I’d be compelled to love.
You were Jewish. And kind of debaucherous. And you wore sneakers and sweatpants with sincerity. And you collected figurines (not dolls or toys). And you were slightly uptight and regimented in your. own. way. And I liked it. No, loved it. All of it. Truly and sincerely, not just in the way you love something someone you like does or is or likes.
I also liked, no loved, the steady pace with which you, and I, abandoned our respective tweed pants and pencil skirts and loosened up our wardrobes. The steady pace with which you, and I, cared little about our respective “supervisors” and threw stress balls across the room while learning random tidbits about each other. The steady pace with which you, and I, attracted attention to our budding friendship and shot it down with coy looks every chance we could.
And then there was Maureen’s Kitchen.
I was so excited for this. I remember my exact outfit: white t-shirt, navy shorts, tan wedges, that necklace that my ex-boyfriend’s mom gave to me but it’s totally not weird at all that I still wear it because I’m legitimately obsessed with it.
We met in the parking lot and awkwardly hugged each other. This was only the second time we saw each other out of the office. You were wearing basketball shorts and I, in heeled wedges, immediately felt as though I had to have misread the situation and that this was most certainly not the date I wanted it to be.
I don’t really remember what I ordered or really anything minus the cow prints everywhere, the smell of bacon, and my incessant questioning on whether or not this was a date. I ruled that it wasn’t, met my mother at Target afterward, and probably cried myself to sleep out of embarrassment some 12 hours later.
And then there was the Promenade.
The date that almost didn’t happen because it almost happened and then you cancelled on me last minute. But when we eventually made it there, I blew up on the inside because for once in my young “adult” dating life—which we were 8 years into at this point—someone actually knew what would make me swoon. It wasn’t flowers or music or anything conventionally romantic.
You made me feel as though I was part of something. And you made me feel as though I was incredibly small. It was the most beautiful thing one person could’ve done for another. It’s hard to describe exactly what happened in my heart that night but I knew instinctually that I was forever changed. The lapping water against the rocks, the rumble of the subway above, the smell of your cologne, the feeling of your soul just inches from mine. It was all too much, just enough, and too little all at once.
And then there was Yogurt Crazy.
You’d just taken me on what likely felt like our 170th Most Chaste Date ever. I appreciated your respect for my boundaries and hated that I had them to begin with all in one breath. I hadn’t felt that steady slowness since I was a teenager and it meant more to me than I probably ever expressed that it did. I was bad at expressing my feelings then…not that I’m all that much better now. Our date came to its reluctant end and you walked me back to my car and what followed was the most intimate and passionate first kiss that I’d ever—and still have ever—experienced in my life.
And then there were those times we spent not talking.
The first stint was 6 months. The second lasted just over a year. The third lasted nearly 2 years. Each spent with someone, or something, distracting me. A boyfriend, a new apartment, bed bugs, school, work, the lack thereof, more “boyfriends” with quotation marks very much needed. The first boyfriend made it obvious I wasn’t over you. Not directly, but subconsciously. I only admitted it in the written form, in poems no one would ever see. The subsequent “boyfriends” pushed you further down into a larger pit of general heartbreak. Little did I know they were just piling on top of you, not erasing you as I thought I intended. Oh how I hated you then(s).
And then there was the ultimate breakthrough, though it was later than I had hoped.
I blame those days we spent in our cubicles laughing amongst ourselves. And in the board room. And in our cars. And everywhere else. We were kind of a team, you and I. I think everyone noticed but respected us enough not to ask. Or they were too jaded and oblivious to notice. Or both. I can’t help but think if they had called us out things would be different. But that’s not the point.
And then there’s the realization that this whole ordeal is more beautiful this way.
The way it played out; painful though it has been. Who am I kidding? It still is in some ways. The ways in which old wounds don’t heal quite as soon as you hope they would. Like that scab you want to rip off but know you can’t because it’ll start bleeding again.
Either way this story is getting long now and I only had one singular point to make from the jump and that is this: I fell in love with you in a second on that day when you showed up in those tweed pants. And I have loved you—in some way or other, by comparison or deep-seated wounds, reluctantly or gleefully—ever since.
The (beginning’s) end.