It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, just like today, except it was 19 years ago.
The college kids were starting to peel off and head home for the long holiday weekend. A few unfortunate ones had to stay around due to unyielding professors and assignments and quizzes and the rest of the terrible things that ruin college for everyone.
He came in with two friends.
She was there with two friends.
She didn’t know it but he was ready to be done with college and the small town it was located in. He felt like he’d outgrown and he desperately wanted to get out and away and live like a normal adult. Part of him, no doubt, was tired of the college girls and he knew, after four-and-a-half years, that the one he wanted was simply somewhere else.
He longed for a girl that was daring, a girl that was strong. He wanted a girl who had been through the world on her own. He wanted a girl that knew what failure and success looked like. He wanted a girl who had done something more than simply join a sorority, go to class, listen to her parents and dream at night of the perfect little house with the 2.5 kids and all the boring trappings of life.
She had on a light weight blue sweater, made of soft wool. She wore her father’s vintage winter coat. Peaking out underneath her jeans were a pair of casual looking suede boots with natural rubber soles.
Her hair was soft brown. Her eyes sparkled with a hint of mischief. Her smile was broad and warm and natural.
She was not like any other girl he’d ever seen. She was exactly what he had always wanted to find.
There was a boyfriend. She confessed to some messiness involving finances and a need to graduate and parents who breathed down her back and all of the things and reasons why he should not be interested in her.
But she did not know, and maybe she still doesn’t know 19 years later, that he is not like the other people she knows.
He is not interested in perfect squares or straight lines. It’s the tangled mess and sweeping shifts and chaotic scribbles that suck him in.
He fell in love with that girl on the cold walk home to his apartment.
And it was supposed to last forever…
But then it didn’t.