Part Two: What She Felt
Obviously what I was really trying to accomplish by spending so much time with Beautiful and being so involved in her life was trying to set up the best possible chance for us to be together. I wanted to become much more than a friend to her, and as we grew closer I secretly hoped that my chances for that would get better and better. Of course there was never any real way for me to discern if any of this was happening, or if perhaps I was doomed from the beginning and she was just a kind and courteous soul entertaining the hopeless dreams and desires of a lost romantic. The whole series of events that would propel us from friendship to love followed a smooth, natural, but very fast path. We never spared a moment to entertain any doubt or hesitation as we eventually fell madly in love with each other. Therefore as much as I knew what was going through my head and what I felt over the first couple months when we met, I never really knew what she saw in me, felt with me, or thought about me to end up in the same destination as me. It wouldn’t be until much much later, years in fact, that there would be enough time and space to reflect and ask her how she viewed those seemingly fated formulative months in fall.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It allows even the blind to see with crystal clear resolution and turns even fools into wise men. In the case of learning about myself and Beautiful, hindsight let me play the events that meant so much to me in parallel to what she saw. From late-night conversations in each other’s arms, stories shared in writings to each other, gifts we gave one another, and the private writings of her personal journals, Beautiful let me see into just how exactly the woman I fell the hardest for, fell for me too.
She noticed me too at that first club meeting. I was, or really still am, rather tall, which made it pretty easy actually. I always thought I had what doctors called in medical terms ‘resting bitch face’ and most people upon first meeting me would agree. I even used to date a girl who called it ‘resting constipated face’. I’m a handsome bastard for sure. Yet still somehow she was drawn to me. She told me that there was something about how I carried myself, handled myself in a crowd, that made her want to get to know me. I seemed comfortable around everyone, eno ugh that I was myself and also not concerned with being alone for it. And also that by making a joke of how little I knew of Chinese, she felt comfortable being able to talk to me without having to worry about revealing how lacking her fluency was. She felt instantly comfortable and at ease around me, like we had been friends longer than we actually were.
She was more than happy to give me her schedule, but more so she was happy to receive mine. She would have never admitted it at the time but she used to watch my schedule to figure out when I would have free time and where I would be walking out of. There was very little coincidence and less fate and much more careful planning and purposeful intervention when it came to our fortuitously and constantly running into each other on campus. This was perhaps one of my favorite parts of our time together. We would always anticipate each other’s movements, never being more than just a few moments from seeing each other after classes. It took me back to the simpler times of high school dating, when walking together from period to period was pretty much the extent of what we could do. Now it was amplified in college and the effort magnified the effect. On such a large campus with so many different departments and buildings, you never quite get over the rush of happiness you feel when there is someone waiting right outside the hall and you know they are there just for you. Rushed and giddy walks down small narrow hallways in high school evolved into long, leisurely walks across campus. I had her schedule laser etched onto the back of my eyelids and she must have had mine tattooed on her arm because we were constantly and without fail there for each other. It was sweet and romantic and all the wonderful things to know she put so much effort in finding the time to be with each other.
For every flower whose petals I picked trying to figure out if Beautiful liked me, for every wish I attached to the tails of shooting stars, for every sleepless night that I wondered and thought about the possibility of us being together, turns out she was doing the same thing. I admit I probably wasn’t the most subtle in my intentions or affection. Subtlety really never was my strong suit in almost any respect. Every time I would help her with her schoolwork or stay late with her or any seemingly selfless act, she would always wonder in the back of her mind if perhaps there was a chance that I was doing all these things because I liked her. I’m not saying that were I not interested in someone I’d become a cold heartless bastard, but I do think almost anyone would say that there is certainly a reasonable differentiation between what we do for friends and what we do for those we care about or fall for. She was trying to find what that line was for me and if what I was doing with and for her was simply par for the course, or if I was in fact overreaching to indicate something more. I admit it was really adorable and sweet to think that during all that time she was analyzing and over-analyzing the things I did; there is something simple and cute and innocent about that hopeful wonder.
What I am about to reveal now I only knew until much, much later after we started dating. I don’t remember what spurned on this particular admission, but I would definitely say that this is perhaps my favorite and most precious memory of Beautiful in the time before we started dating. There are a few moments that come in relationships that seem to shine brightest and change their trajectory. This is one of those moments frozen in time that used to be so important to me. Whenever I felt discouraged or disheartened, whenever we struggled to connect, this was the memory that would always succeed in drawing me back to her, tying us inseparably together. You will remember I said how we used to spend so many nights together, alone in my school’s commuter lounge. Sometimes we played cards, sometimes we would do homework, other times we would just talk, but perhaps most of all, as the night went on and we were still too stubborn to part ways, we would fall asleep together for a little while. I know we both must have sacrificed a lot to dedicate so much time to spend. Sometimes though during those moments, while I was fast asleep, she would still be awake. She would just enjoy the solitude, the peace, the serenity that came from seemingly being the sole possessors of the world. She would lie against me, watch me, and sometimes in my sleep, steal a kiss. I never knew and never felt anything, as I am a notoriously heavy sleeper, much to her relief. But yes, later on she would admit that sometimes when we were alone and taking one of our naps, she would wait until I was asleep and brush her lips against mine. Now I admit this could have gone one of a hundred different ways. But this was a woman I was madly in love with so it only went one way. I was overcome with laughter and happiness when she told me. She was so embarrassed and her cheeks were a bright and fiery red. Her fingers fidgeted and she struggled to make eye contact with me when she told me. But I thought it was the sweetest and most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I just laughed and hugged her tightly and when her body was pressed against mine, kissed her. One of the strongest moments of our relationship, one of the most precious and beautiful memories, and it happened while I was asleep! I loved her for that. This was my lifeline, the rope I always knew I could cling to to remind me how much she cared. For years, this memory sustained me. Placed her firmly in my heart. I can still recall all the warmth and happiness it brought. But unfortunately now this memory is tainted by the present. It weighs heavy in my heart to bring back up. I have no hope left in this memory.
For our one year anniversary, Beautiful surprised me with a memory seeker jar. It was a little jar with a cute bright yellow mushroom cap. Inside was a kaleidoscope of glitter, bright sequins, decorative paper, but hidden amongst the glitter and glam were memorabilia of our early days. While I had been treasuring and protecting our memories like its sole protector, she was creating her own narrative to preserve. This was her way of showing me what she had chosen to save. While tossing and turning the jar all over, watching and being distracted by the falling shapes and colors, I began to see the glimpses of our relationship. The first thing I noticed was an oddly shaped and mangled paper clip which I immediately realized was the one I used to fix her computer. After a few more turns I saw the penny I paid for her thoughts. I had to unscrew the cap and reach in to confirm the next two, but sure enough I saw the corners of what I believed were fortune cookie strips. I pulled them out to see the two, hers and mine, fortunes from one of our many Chinese food takeout meals. Erasers we had exchanged, small knickknacks that karmically held our memories tightly wrapped around them. All that time I spent falling madly in love with her, she was doing the same. We were both running towards our destiny, and soon we would have no recourse but to crash spectacularly, brillianty, brightly, and madly together.
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