Of all the most hated clichés in contemporary romance literature, having your characters meet in the dingy, badly-lit hallways at school is probably closest to the top. Extra points if what leads to said meeting is the combined clumsy distraction of both characters as they rush to opposite sides of the building. Of course, the characters collide and papers fly everywhere. And then both rush to pick them up with flustered “I’m sorry’s” and… Bam! Instant attraction that leads to a mixture of carefully crafted pick-up lines and awkward, stiff dialogue, grand – and slightly creepy – romantic gestures, the epic fight over inconsequential events, and finally the heartwarming apology with a side of promise of everlasting love.
Don’t worry, this is not that kind of story. Mostly.
I did meet him in a dingy, badly-lit hallway. But we never collided, and the pick-up lines were never carefully crafted nor the romantic gestures ever grand.
He was standing next to the door of the classroom before the last class of my first day of college. It was a rainy Thursday at 2:30pm and I had just ran down from my previous class. He was tall with curly hair, amazingly warm, brown eyes and a smile that begged to be noticed. I on the other hand was (am) short, a redhead at the time, with eyes the colour of city puddles and a smile that’s more a tightening of the lips than anything else. And slightly panicked. You have to understand I am always two steps away from getting lost – my sense of direction is not great and until I’ve retraced the same route at least five times, my heart threatens to beat out of my chest anytime I have to get from point A to slightly-new point B. But when he said hello, his voice a mixture of kindness, first-day nerves, and general congeniality everything went quiet.
“Hi.” I was suddenly very aware of my height of barely 5’1″ against his 6′ over. He smelled amazing enough to be distracting, like rain and a cologne that to this day gives me butterflies.
“Are you here for class?,” he continued, apparently unfazed by my laughable lack of height and evident flustered state. His smile was still easy, his eyes on me, and his head tilted slightly to the side and down – of course down, he would’ve not been able to see me at all otherwise.
“Yes. Communication Skills 101?” I asked, half expecting him to laugh and tell me I was in the wrong building. Just that morning, I had almost taken the wrong bus.
“Yep. Me too,” he said, tapping his phone lightly and looking up at the door as the previous class filtered out and we were allowed in. “Sit with me?” It was half an offer. Maybe he had noticed my trepidation and was trying to be nice. In any case, and for whatever reason I said yes.
So we sat and talked and I learned that his voice was warm, like honey in your tea on a rainy day and his eyes were a distracting amount of shades of brown. He was also studying (going to study?) multimedia design, liked the Beatles, England, and was not a fan of reading. He didn’t know what my degree was, or that it even existed, but listened intently as I fumbled through an explanation. He then introduced me to two other girls in the class who were also design students and the conversation lapsed into an easy, “We’re university students, how ’bout them apples.”
There was no class that day, though, and the easy banter was cut short. All was good, I told myself. He could easily turn into something I did not want any part of. Really, who wants to fall in love with the guy they meet their first day of university….? Probably no one.
And so I left the classroom with another guy and he stayed in his seat, after giving me another smile and a polite goodbye.