Elise I met Matthew when we were both in college. I was studying education and he was studying psychology. We had met through a large group of mutual friends, and became the people that say ‘hi’ when we see each other but there isn’t much else happening. I had always known there was something different about him, and I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, but when he spoke, I wanted him to continue. I loved listening to him tell stories and talk about Jesus, and the discussions we had here and there were enthralling. We had all of one class together our sophomore year. It was an introductory writing class that I took for my English endorsement, and he took for fun. I developed a small crush on him in that class, and it never really went away. There was always something different about him.
Senior year of college. We always have this big block party at the beginning of the school year. Kind of a welcome back type thing. It pops up relatively early at the beginning of the school year. To help me get through school, I work with a catering company. We cater all sorts of events, and this year, my boss managed to get my university to allow us to cater the school’s block party. We weren’t going to be making any money, but it would get the name out there. None of my two close friends were going to the block party so I volunteered to help out. I thought I would just be stuck at the store cooking, but my boss brought me with to hand out appetizers and finger food. We were one of many set up but most of the rest of the stations were run by students. We caught a break about half an hour in, and I went to walk around for a bit. They did it in the recreation center in this massive room with multiple courts and a quarter mile long track. I walked the track once, and as I was getting close to the beginning, Matthew waved me down.
My heart did this weird the where it skipped a beat, and then dropped into my stomach at the thought of conversing with him. I ignored it and acknowledged the wave with a wave as I walked towards him. “Hey, sorry I didn’t respond to your message, I don’t have that book anymore,” he said. I had totally forgotten that I asked him for the book from the class we took together. I had a friend who was taking the class and I was trying to get the book for her because I had already sold mine.
“Oh, yeah,” I responded, a little disappointed that there was a real reason to get my attention. “I knew it was a long shot, but I figured I would try anyways.”
“Yeah, I sold it a while back,” he replied.
“No worries, I’ll figure it out,” I responded.
“So, have you seen anything you like?” he asked, innocently enough.
“You mean besides you?” I responded. Just kidding. That’s how I wanted to respond. As soon as he asked the question, ‘you’ popped into my head. But as calm as I could muster, I looked around at the obstacle courses and the rock wall and the inflatable games, and replied “no, not really. Not really my thing.” I avoided eye contact in the few seconds after because I could feel the temperature of my face increase. I couldn’t believe I had just thought that, no matter how inviting his green/blue eyes were. Lucky for me, he was a little taller than me so avoiding eye contact was easy.
“Me neither, I come more because it feels necessary. I mark my time by the number of laps I complete.”
“Sounds like a good way to go,” I respond, completely understanding him. “I prefer small gatherings of a few people. I mean, I only really have one friend here.”
“Who’s that?” he asked, seemingly intrigued.
“My best friend, Nick McCrane,” I answered.
“Ahh,” he responded and then glanced over his shoulder. “They have ice cream sandwiches over here; would you like one?”
“Sure,” I responded.
“Vanilla or neapolitan?”
“Neapolitan for the lady,” he told the student behind the counter. As he handed me my ice cream, we continued our discussion. “I understand that, I have a few friends that I’m really close with.”
“Yeah, I mean, I have people I constantly say hi to and people I’ve known the entire time I’ve been here but not as many relationships that I think will continue after this.” As I am saying this, I know that he is someone I want to continue talking to after we are long gone from this place.
“I definitely understand that.” As the conversation comes to an end that makes sense, he is summoned over by someone from his own group of friends. I wave goodbye and walk the track two more times, hoping to run into him again. An exchange as small as that shouldn’t be significant but I was smiling the whole rest of the night, happy to have spoken with him at all, and hopeful that I would get that opportunity again.
Matthew The all school block party. An event that I would definitely avoid if I could. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of it is great and a lot of people enjoy the inflatable games, loud music and array of food. But I would personally prefer a small gathering of just a few people. I come to these out of necessity. It is expected so I at least make the effort appear. I pass the time by walking the quarter mile track, stopping here and there to talk to people, but leaving after about 4 or 5 circles around the track. I enter and make my first few rounds, stopping to talk with people I know from class. I make my way to the front door, and grab a glass of lemonade. I turn around to see Elise. Elise is this sweet, special education major that I met in a class I took for fun sophomore year. She was one of the few normal people in that class, and we sat across from each other. On the day of the final, she read this cute little story about how she was going to be a novelist as a child. I enjoyed listening to her talk in that class, and I wish we had more classes together. Looking at the fact that there is just one more semester after this one, it is highly unlikely. I enjoy talking with her but it seems that our paths just don’t cross.
When I saw her, in her catering uniform and apron, I waved her down. I had no idea what I was going to say. As she got closer, I recalled a message she had sent me earlier. “Hey, sorry I didn’t respond to your message, I don’t have that book anymore,” I said.
“Oh, yeah,” she responded, seemingly discouraged, though I didn’t know if it was because I didn’t have the book or because of something else. “I knew it was a long shot, but I figured I would try anyways.”
“Yeah, I sold it a while back,” I informed her.
“No worries, I’ll figure it out,” she responded, with a small smile.
“So, have you seen anything you like?” I asked.
“No, not really. Not really my thing.” She avoided eye contact while responding, and I could see a warmth of red spreading across her already rosy cheeks. I wondered what was going through her head. I attempted to pull her gaze back towards me as I continued the conversation. As if I’d be able to read her mind by gaining eye contact.
“Me neither, I come more because it feels necessary. I mark my time by the number of laps I complete,” I explained.
“Sounds like a good way to go,” she responds, “I prefer small gatherings of a few people. I mean, I only really have one friend here.”
“Who’s that?” he asked, intrigued.
“My best friend, Nick McCrane,” she answered. I wonder if there is anything there. Sometimes best friends leads to more.
“Ahh,” I responded and then glanced over my shoulder, hoping to change the subject slightly for a moment. “They have ice cream sandwiches over here; would you like one?”
“Sure,” she responded.
“Vanilla or neapolitan?”
“Neapolitan for the lady,” I told the student behind the counter. I handed her the ice cream and said, “I understand that, I have a few friends that I’m really close with.”
“Yeah, I mean, I have people I constantly say hi to and people I’ve known the entire time I’ve been here but not as many relationships that I think will continue after this.”
“I definitely understand that,” I said. As I said it, one of my roommates, grabbed my attention, and Elise begun her track around the gym again. I had hoped to make the conversation longer, but I didn’t run into her again. I still wonder what she was thinking about when she wouldn’t look at me.