I sat next to him again.
Just because he was a nice guy, I told myself. Just because it was easy to talk to him and I wasn’t feeling like being social or having weird, taxing interactions full of awkward small talk. Just because the class was full and I couldn’t sit by myself. “Right,” you might say. “Not because his eyes were like warm caramel or his voice reminded you of honey. Not because his smile was distracting and he smelled like rain. Not because his name was stuck in your head all weekend and your heart had been racing the whole day. Just because you hated small talk.”
It was a Tuesday. 2:30pm. The start of one of the most boring classes I have ever taken. Well, I assume… even though I got an A+ in it, I don’t remember half of what was covered.
I remember the paper plane.
One of the first assignments in the class was to find a partner and create a poster. We had a class to work on it, and we would present it the next. The idea was to find a link between an image and a quote. Of course we partnered up. But only because we were already sitting together and that made the most sense. We had a big white cardstock sheet to draw our poster on, a case full of markers and two pencils. But we drew nothing, we didn’t really agree on much.
“How about we turn it around like this?” I asked, tilting our canvas in a 45- degree angle.
He frowned and gave me this look that just said: This girl is crazy, what am I even doing? “We can’t do that.” He stated, with all the confidence that taking three classes had already given him to know, “That’s not a good design.”
“But it looks cool,” I countered, silently agreeing with him but not willing to admit it.
And so we did nothing, honestly, I don’t think we were really trying at all. We spent the class talking instead. He had a dog, a brother, and a white Fiat 500 he was infinitely proud of. He wanted to work in Pixar and he was trying to grow a beard. He listened when I told him what I was reading and was appropriately impressed when I showed him a picture of my bookshelf. He laughed when I told him about getting on the wrong bus the first day of school and told me he left his house at 4am the first day and had to wait outside the school for an hour before they opened. We had a shared love of Star Wars and comics, although he preferred Marvel to DC. He liked tea more than coffee and had a habit of bouncing his knee up and down and making the whole table bounce right along with him.
When the hour was up and we still hadn’t gotten anywhere I looked at him, shook my head, and told him it was hopeless. I asked for his number – just so we could work together before we had to hand the project in. He typed it into my phone and took the sheet, folding it into a huge paper plane.
He gave it to me with a sheepish smile. “So at least it won’t go to waste,” he said, his eyes twinkling. I smiled as I took it despite myself, blushing right up to the tip of my nose, and ran to take the bus with a hasty goodbye. I smiled all the way back home, balancing the paper plane on my legs.
I still have it.
It still makes me smile.