Logan and I were walking down by the docks, trying to find our way back to the yatch we'd been on. But all of the boats looked pretty similar, and my cellphone was dead so I couldn't call my sister.
"If all missions involve nights on yatchs, I don't know whether to be happy or very, very seasick," Logan commented.
"Hm. I could always find a new partner. Someone's who's more responsible and has a great pair of sea legs."
"You know, Kennedy, sometimes I can't tell when you're serious or when you're sarcastic."
I peered at the boats a little more closely. "There--that blueish one might be it. It was blue, wasn't it?"
I struggled to remember, wrinkling my brow and squinting. I turned to ask Logan a question and saw him grinning at me.
"What are you looking at, doofus?" I demanded.
"You're cute when you're angry or confused." Even in the dark light, I could see his face getting red. "I mean, you're cute all the time, just cuter when you do that...um, wow, this is coming out all wrong. I meant..."
I shoved him off the dock we were standing on and into the water. He surfaced, coughing a little.
"Once again, it's kind of hard to know when you're joking or when you're serious."
Despite myself, I let a little smile curl up the edges of my mouth at his words. I crouched down and offered him a hand. As I helped him up, I whispered, "You're kinda cute, too."
And then he pulled me off the dock and into the water.
He Likes Me
He says he likes me but is it true? Does he say this to please me, because its what I want to hear? Or does he really really like me? I like him, might even love him. When he tells me he likes me, he blows me away, he likes me. Me. Wow. I will take it. I didn't expect that, at all. I have liked him since I first laid eyes on him but never thought he felt the same. I feel like there is hope left for me, for us. He likes me. I will take a like for now. Maybe one day soon, he will say he loves me...
What Paolo taught me...
Paolo and I were in school together since Kindergarten. Growing up we talked very little, but when we did he always said things that made me uncomfortable. Once he told me I was beautiful. But then he assured me that he wanted all the girls to realize they were beautiful. I avoided him the rest of the year. When you are in middle school, something like that just weirds you out.
In high school we ended up having a class together almost every year. I saw him mature and grow (literally...he grew more than a foot taller than me). During our sophomore year we started to talk a little more. Eventually we were placed next to each other in a class and we began an awkward but real friendship.
Talking with Paolo became easy. I had an idea of how his mind worked, and I knew what things he liked and what things he really hated. On off-hours he would stop if he saw me in the hallway and we would talk right up until the next class.
I thought nothing of it.
In our senior year we ended up in the same Physics class. For me, it was a lucky break. Not only did I have a friend in the class, but I had a friend who understood Physics and was very patient in trying to breach my incapacity to grasp the subject. On days when we had little or no work to do in class, we would end up talking about any number of things, and I always enjoyed our conversations.
One day we touched on the topic of human dignity. This is a dangerous subject to try in conversation with me because it strikes a chord in my heart and I have a lot to say about it. Paolo was very quiet while I spoke and he payed a great deal of attention to me.
If I hadn't been speaking about one of my favorite topics, I might have noticed just how closely he was watching me.
Class ended, but we walked and talked throught the hallways as we made our way to our respective next classes in the same part of the building. The door to Paolo's classroom came first.
"Well, sorry for talking so much," I said, suddenly very embarrassed. But he just laughed.
"No, I like how passionate you get."
"Um, thanks?" Passionate? Yeah, that was the right word.
"You know," he said, and I looked up at him, feeling the shift. He was suddenly a little too serious, even thought his smile remained. "You know," he said again and then continued with a shrug, "if I didn't know that you wanted other things, and if I didn't want what was best for you, I'd probably ask you to date me. Anyway, see you later." He loped off into the depths of his classroom.
Did I answer him? I couldn't remember. Did I stand there for a long time? I have no idea. But when I sat down in my next class, my heart was racing (from anxiety and confusion), and my mind was absolutely muddled.
When did this happen? When did he ever think to look at me that way?
I'd thought it impossible that anyone would ever see me as attractive or lovable...that someone might even think about dating me was inconceivable--simply because I'd never conceived of it as a possibility.
The day was done after that class--thank the Lord, because there is no way in Heaven's holy apple trees that I was going to be able to concentrate on anything else.
After a sobering conversation with my older brother about men and courage, I went to bed that night thinking about what Paolo had said.
Paolo, I thought, knowing I would never be brave enough to actually tell him, you're right: I want other things. I'm graduating early and starting a new life. But you'll never know how grateful I am to you. You've showed me that there's more to me than I thought. And that it just might be possible for someone to love me after all.