She had ransacked her brain to bits to show up on time for her 8:30am this morning. And even though she was running on no sleep, she had a grin on her face, ready for the day. It was the end of the week; the school-week, the business week, the week of productivity and work, and rest was about to arrive. She had just accomplished her few short term goals last night, and there was no reason for her to feel anything but content. She was ready for the 8 days of freedom and rest that were awaiting her. She wanted to get away from these buildings, its brown walls, the stairs, the chairs, the desks, the books, the people. She wanted a break and that’s what she was getting in just 90 more minutes.
Feeling friendly and optimistic, she spoke to the people around her, grinning and laughing at every little part she found humorous. At this moment in time —no one was responsible for her happiness than herself—and she knew that. It had been awhile since she had let go of the issues, the questions, and was content with herself and her circumstances.
As she tried to calm down her excitement, she glanced over the white sheet of paper handed to her. She saw her name, among four others. They were all familiar names, some that she knew from before, some that talked too much but were cute, some that had a funny name, and some that she had a predisposed judgment against. She had a habit of paying attention to minuscule details, and quickly noticed the name under hers had the same amount of letters as her name. “Isn’t that funny,” she thought. She thought she knew the face that went with that name, but wasn’t sure. She often caught herself thinking of what she called ‘silly’ things —things she thought no one else thinks, pays attention to, and are ultimately useless in the past, present, or future.
Slowly, she rearranged herself to another part of the room to sit with the four other names that she was assigned to. There was already two people in that corner and she positioned herself across one of them. She sat down, looking around for a moment, and then directly at him. He was looking at her too.
He had a some shade of blue sweater on and a gray striped beanie covering his hair and ears. His face looked strong-spirited, with a well-built jawline that revealed his teeth-grinding habits. He did a good job trimming his masculinity in what she thought was ‘a nice shape,’ growing around the lips and jaw, and connecting at the chin. It was clean but rugged. The color of his skin was lighter than hers —but he had some color, the type she liked on herself, when she would stand in a blizzard for too long, and the tones of brown in her skin turned lighter and red. He had dark hair, from what you could see on his face. His brawny face structure was well-balanced by his small eyes that were dark, but visible, only until he smiled.
“Nora, right?” He asked.
She wasn’t sure if he actually asked her something, but she nodded back and quietly whispered, “Yeah,” with a slight smile.
He looked at the others around him, confirming their names, and then went back to her.
“So, what are you going to be up to over the mini-vacation,” he made conversation.
“Nothing,” she replied nonchalantly.
“Nothing?” he asked enthusiastically with a big smile.
“Well, you know, you plan to do all these things, and then you don’t end up doing anything,” she explained more clearly, paying attention only his eyes that disappeared with his charming smile.
He nodded in agreement, still distracting her with his smile.
She was in a good mood today and talking to him put her in an even better mood. And even though she had seen him before, heard him before, when a real exchange actually occurred, she knew. There was something different about him, something different about her, something different in the air, something like a cloud of ecstasy and mystery hovering over them, reminding her how much every word that came out of his mouth was both enchanting and nerve-wracking. She tried to concentrate on what he continued to ask her about herself, her day, her life, but the sight of him engrossed her so much that she replied with one-word answers, ultimately causing him to steer his conversation to the other four people. As she attempted to distract herself with the materials around her, pretending to not pay attention to his voice or his face, she looked at her watch to see how much more time she had left in his presence. “Only 25 more minutes,” she thought.
She continued to glance in his direction between looking at her paper and other people. When she heard him whisper to the others around her, she listened to every word he was conversing as though she was a spy eves dropping on the enemy’s master plans. They caught one another’s eyes several times between the 90 minutes, and she could not control looking at him, from his beanie to his dirty sneakers. There was something charming about him. His smile seemed familiar, yet he did not remind her of anyone in her past, anyone she’s loved, touched, or temporarily despised.
Suddenly, people began to shift around, papers being crumbled, and she heard the books closing — her 25 minutes were up. As the people started to get up and leave around her, he pushed his desk back to give room to others. He got up from his desk, grabbed his pen, and turned around, heading for the door. “He didn’t even say bye,” she thought. She looked at him as he walked from her side of room to the other, fixating her eyes on his beanie as he moved behind and through the crowd of people that were just as happy as she was to have the day almost over. Suddenly, he disappeared and she quickly got up from her seat and headed for the door. She hoped to see him somewhere between the brown walls, or when she’s walking on the path between the buildings, or amongst some people. But, she didn’t catch him again that day.
As she was walking to her car, still full of glee of ending her day so very early, she felt a feeling of euphoria throughout her mind and body.
There’s something about the blandness of your life, the phase you’re in, or the moment you’re in, that catches you so off guard when you do get that short whiff of exchange, expression, stimulation, interest—maybe even actual emotion.
When you’re walking the path you’ve walked so many times that you don’t find it necessary to count, you don’t expect that at the end of the road, you’ll actually find something new, something refreshing —something pleasing to your senses, she thought. This moment of refreshment is only sweet and lasting if you are indeed caught off-guard, if you go wake up thinking of everything but the fact that this moment might actually happen later that morning, afternoon, or evening.
It was because of this very moment that she realized the exchange she just had made her feel something she didn’t 90 minutes ago. The sun was shining crisp on this March morning, and she felt a sense of imminent happiness approaching her in the next few weeks. She couldn’t get him out of her mind, and as she drove through the empty streets, she put on songs that she knew she would listen to just to tap back into these feelings of euphoria.
Suddenly, she realized, the euphoria from the 8 days of freedom and rest that she was expecting since she woke up this morning was diminished after she got a taste of what she had waiting for her when she would return to the buildings, its brown walls, and its people.