Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm normally very very good at reading people. My first impression is usually the one that sticks. Six months ago I put in for a transfer from one restaurant to another. It the world of restaurants it was definitely a downgrade from where I was working previously but it was a change that had to be made, so I made it. When I first got there my immediate impression was that I had made a huge mistake. I looked around and I thought that I had reset and thrown away all the restaurant experience I had up until then and was starting over. The people who I was going to work with were nice enough, but no one seemed to be someone I would really want to know. There were cliques from day one. A few of the cute girls were all hanging together, apparently friends from school that all decided they needed more money and took up serving. I didn't think too much of any of them, except that I recall they all had poufy hair.

We all broke midway through the first day for dinner and all the groups of people went their own ways. I went to dinner with a group of four, one of whom I knew, and ate pretty quickly. We still had some time to kill so we went and grabbed some frozen yogurt. Outside of the yogurt place there was a table where some of the servers were all sitting and chatting. No one really knew anybody so we all went up and said hi. I'll never forget what happened next: This very cute blonde girl (one of the aforementioned poufy-haired girls) looked up and with a very sincere and genuine smile asked me if I knew who I looked like. I've heard it before but I played along and asked who. Then all the girls chimed in, "Chad Michael Murray". I've heard this before and I gave my typical response of, "Yea I've heard that, and I really hate it." I laughed as I said it because I wasn't serious but then the blonde girl smiled and said, "At least you don't look like a Mexican Ross from 'Friends'!" and pointed to my eventual friend, Ever. I legitimately laughed very hard at this because it is actually a very apt comparison.

That was my first, albeit brief, conversation with Katie. I'll admit that I thought the girl was very cute. I had actually heard from one of my previous managers that there was a girl named Katie who I would be working with who was "Megan Fox-hot". I didn't really know how to take that but this girl was definitely very pretty, but more intriguing than anything. She had a way of smiling when she turned her head that made it feel like she was thinking about you as she walked past. I noticed that right away. As the weeks went by I slowly became friends with Katie and her friend Lauren. Lauren was a pretty easy read. She was a young, cute girl who liked to party and was not all too concerned with much else. She was fun. One night when we were closing she blatantly asked me out of the blue "Do you like Katie?" I was completely taken aback by this question but tried not to show it. "What do you mean? Like if I like her? Yea I think she is really cool." Lauren's response was that she was asking about the bartender Katie, not server Katie (the blonde one). There was a sigh of relief from me, but also disappointment. I really wanted to think that Katie had put her friend up to asking me how I felt about her. It was at this moment that I first thought seriously about my feelings for Katie and that I must be starting to fall for her.

Of course when I think I might start falling for a girl I immediately begin to second guess myself. I rationalized that a girl like Katie wouldn't be into someone like me, that she had plenty of other guys that were interested or that she was already seeing someone. It was hard to get a read on her, so I focused my attention on Lauren. I wasn't falling for Lauren in any way, but I was bored and she was cute so I figured if I couldn't have Katie then I should at least have a good time. Lauren and I flirted back and forth and one night we both got drunk and ended up in the same bed the next morning. Katie had been there with Mike, not with him, but they were both partying with us and were some of the last people standing from the night before. When I came downstairs everyone already knew that I had been upstairs with Lauren. I laughed it off and went on my merry way. This continued on for about a week or so and then abruptly ended just as soon as they had begun. During this time I felt a little ashamed, ashamed that I had these thoughts and feelings towards Katie and ran off with her friend. I eventually learned that I was correct with my initial read on Lauren as some people who knew her from her hometown would confirm. I was happy to be done with it and move on. I started seeing a girl who was nice and funny and cute, but the sense of intrigue and romance wasn't there. I hoped it would develop but it never did.

A few more weeks went by and the summer was officially in full swing. That meant that everyone who was still in school could party just about every night and I would go out with them when I could. On one such night a girl Megan had some people over to her place and we all had some beers and some laughs. Katie was there, and we had been talking and flirting with one another the whole night. We went down to the pool to do some night swimming and the group we were with kind of broke up a little and I was left alone with Katie. In that moment I threw all the preconceptions, all my concerns and all my feelings and kissed Katie. I thought I was over her, I thought I was over my feelings but in one instant, with one kiss I knew I wasn't. To my amazement and my relief she kissed me back, and there was feeling behind it. I was drunk, but in that moment I was sober and wouldn't allow alcohol to cheapen what I was feeling. What happened next was a torrent of what I had been feeling. I told Katie everything that I was thinking, everything that I had thought, all at once. It probably didn't make a lot of sense to her but to me it was a relief to get it all out there.

She told me she felt similar, but that she wasn't sure how to feel because of things that had happened with Lauren and I. She said she was annoyed that I was apparently interested in Lauren. I explained to her that this wasn't the case and since it was the truth I believe Katie thought me to be sincere. We kissed a bit more and then slowly retreated back into Megan's place and fell asleep. Well I did, I think Katie and Megan stayed up. Time passed after that night and Katie and I continued to flirt and make fun of each other at work. Cute little text exchanges, funny conversations would follow. Katie had to go home and get surgery on her knee, and I found myself missing this girl immensely. Work, a place I had come to enjoy, wasn't the same knowing I wouldn't see her there: No matter how bad my day had been, or even how good, seeing her smile and give me a cute face just made my day better. The whole month she was gone I was constantly thinking about her and texting her. We had some really great conversations about how we had similar feelings, missed one another, and wanted to see where things would go.

When she came back it was an awesome day for me. I was so excited to see her that I couldn't think of exactly what to say. I just kind of stood there and smiled dumbly. I can't imagine it was the best impression to give her after a month absence, but it was too impossible not to do exactly that because it's how she makes me feel. My normal wit and charm and cynicism just melt away. She completely disarms me and I love it.

Since she's been back we went out on a date once and I didn't want it to end. We kissed afterwards and I genuinely felt like she enjoyed it as much as I did. Since that time I've really only seen her at work, but we still talk and flirt with one another. I don't want to push things with her but I also don't want to lose an opportunity with her. I really want to see where things go with this girl and I am hopeful she still does too. I told Ever that it feels like I always have a 50/50 chance with this girl, but that's part of her charm. We will see where things go with her, one day at a time. In the end, even if nothing more happens, the way she has made me feel and the way she has restored calm to my heart will be what I take away. I wasn't sure I could feel the same way about a girl again, but she's proof that I can. She inspires me to be better than I am and work at being a better person. So if nothing else, I owe Katie a thank you, and hopefully a kiss, too.

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