Last night, I went to a Christmas party hosted by a nursing unit at work. A lot of people from other departments –social workers, transporters, even doctors– where there too. The party was held at a bar in downtown Chicago. So, because of this, of the Illinois law that doesn’t allow you to smoke inside bars, I kept going outside to do my dirty deed.
During one of my smoking sessions, my crush appeared right in front of me, without notice, as if she had materialized from the smoke that I just blew off my nostrils. For about a minute, I just stood there staring at her, with my cigarette hanging on the corner of my right lip. Then, I asked her if she smoke. She said no. She only went out to keep me some company. I grinned at her, probably looking like an idiot.
Earlier that night, I’ve been working my way towards her, to talk to her because I’ve missed her. Ever since we had that lunch with our friend back in October, I’ve never talked to her. We do see each other a lot at work. But besides the “How are you”, “What did you do this weekend” and other water cooler talk, I’ve never sat down with her and woo her. But events were conspiring against me, and I wasn’t able to get near her.
Now, she’s standing right beside me, so uncomfortably close, away from the direction of my smoke. At first, it was awkward. We were both silent. But we soon fell into a conversation. Nothing too serious though. I was just making her laugh, and complimenting her eyes. It was the first time I saw her without her glasses, and I couldn’t decide if she looks better without it.
We stayed outside long after I finished my cigarette. Even if it was only 16 degrees, I didn’t feel cold. I wasn’t sure if it’s the alcohol in my body keeping me warm or because she was standing right next to me. We kept on talking. But, once in a while, we would fall into this awkward silence. Then, we would just stare into each other, as if we’re communicating subliminally, until one of us breaks the silence.
At work, we would also go into this “stare-offs”. Every time I would look at her, she’ll raise her head, as if she knows that I’m looking, and gaze back at me. Then, we would stare at each other for a while until one of us looks away. Sometimes, it is me who would catch her staring at me. At first, I romanticized it, calling this “stare-offs” as “our moment”. That, maybe, there’s something in this “stare-offs”. But dwelling on such things is unhealthy. So, I let it go.
But there were really something in those “stare-offs”, something that she wanted to tell me. Because, last night, outside that bar, she broke the silence and told me that she likes me too. She likes how I make her feel wanted. She likes my humor, of how it never fails to pick her up on a bad day at work. I was smiling from ear to ear, elated, while she said those things. Then, she also told me that she’s in love with someone.
I didn’t know what happened next. I was too discombobulated to figure things after that. All I remembered was she pulled me back inside the bar and we grabbed a seat near the bartender. Then, all of a sudden, I was teasing her about her drink. Just like that, we were back to talking. I was actually happy too. Because, besides knowing that she likes me, nothing has really changed between us. So, I did my best to enjoy my time with her.
Around 3 am in the morning, bar’s closing time, when everybody from our party started leaving, I asked her if she wanted to grab a coffee and sober up with me. This was my third attempt to ask her out. The first two, she declined. This time, however, she accepted. Third time’s the charm, indeed.
So, we went to a 24 hour Dunkin’ Donuts and hung out in there for 2 hours. We talked about random things: personal, films, sports, music…mostly music. She told me about the band Yuck. I told her about the metal band Junius, which I played on my cellphone so she could hear their music. She liked them.
At 5 am, she drove me to the train station so I could go home. We said our “Goodbyes” and “See you tomorrows”, and we went on our separate ways.
On the train, and at home, while listening to Yuck’s self-titled album, I kept on pondering about what she said: “I like you[…]But I’m in love with someone.”. Did she just ask me to wait for her? Or did she rejected me in the most polite manner?