Another work party. Oh I hated these. Crowded, flashing lights, bad music, chatters and a drink in everyone’s hand. Except me. Maybe that is the solution- start drinking. Maybe that will make this a lot more tolerable. As usual, I found myself counting down the seconds for it to be an appropriate enough time to leave. But it seemed like destiny had something else planned for me altogether.
Lacy walked up to me and mentioned how she was glad that I was still there. We never talked beyond work, so this whole exchange felt confusing. And I guess that was visible on my face because she immediately clarified how we had a dinner meeting with a new client that she forgot to inform me about. Now, if it was someone else, this would have bothered them. But it was me, Meera, the awkward brown girl who doesn’t know how to speak up for herself. So, I got into the cab with her and she briefed me on the new assignment. All I had to do was follow a family that owns a carnival for the week and write up something interesting about them. Seemed straight forward.
We arrived at the empty carnival and suddenly I don’t feel so on edge or tight anymore. Something about this full lit, empty carnival brought peace in me. We were welcomed by Natalie, a middle aged woman who was very clearly a hugger. She dove right in before I could stop her. I am not a hugger. Pleasantries were being shared when another woman, Sienna, joined and introduced herself. This time I was quick to respond and initiated a handshake. As more work matters were being discussed, I saw her.
Charlie. The moment I saw her I had a strong passing thought that said she is the one. Although the next one said that stop being stupid, you don’t even know her name. I froze as she approached closer. Lacy introduced herself and turned to me. But I felt too star struck to speak. Lacy quickly jumped in and introduced for me. Her smile was bright and her eyes were shinning. My heart was racing. She talked with such excitement that I could see her blush even in the dimmed lights. If I weren’t brown maybe she could have seen me blush too. Maybe she could. I felt like I was blushing so much that even in my brown skin it was visible. Is that possible?
She turned to me and started talking about the carnival and the whole family business. How her grandfather started it and now her moms and herself take care of the business. But I don’t think I heard most of it as my heart beat was a lot louder. I felt my gaze shift from her eyes to the freckles on her nose and cheeks and then to her lips. Her lips. I just wanted to hold her and kiss her at that moment. As someone who identifies as an asexual this was something very new and confusing. It was so intense and overwhelming.
As I was processing this, I guess I missed something she said. She was smiling and staring at me, as though waiting for a response. But I was still frozen. She soon grabbed my hand and pulled me with her. We arrived at an outdoor dining set up and turns out we were about to have dinner. Oh I was too overwhelmed with these feelings to feel hungry. But eating helped. Was I hogging in too much? I suddenly felt conscious. I couldn’t get myself to look at her. But not looking at her didn’t help either. I forced myself to focus in all the work talk that was happening.
That night I went home and couldn’t sleep. I had to spend a week with her. How am I going to do that? I said very little to avoid making a fool of myself during the first two days. But I eventually got comfortable, we talked about everything; the carnival, the business, her role in it, and with time the conversations became more casual. We talked about our favourite TV shows, movies, games, songs, food and more. It was too easy, comfortable and perfect. Except, I still really badly wanted to kiss her.
The week ended and I was back in the office. I wrote up the article, got it approved and it was soon published. This whole process took another week. The only contact I had in that time was with her parents over e-mail regarding the article. I felt too nervous to text or email her and ask her out. But I didn’t need to. An hour or so after the article was published I received a text from her. It said, “Now that our professional relationship is over, I was wondering if you’d be interested in starting a romantic one. Meet me at the opening of the carnival. At our usually cafe bench at 7pm.”
I felt speechless and immediately agreed. I casual got up and walked to the washroom. As soon as I closed the door of the stall, I jumped around in that tiny space in excitement. That is what she became for me. The light in my life that makes me forget how tight the space is.
I was early. I saw an empty table and made my way for it. Kept my coffee on it and laid down on it’s bench to help calm my nerves. I watched the yellow lights against the dark sky. I felt like I was in some high. I closed my eyes to remember her and suddenly felt a presence around me. I opened my eyes to see a light silhouette of her. I could only see some of her as the lights were glaring but I would recognise her anywhere. I had memorised her so well.
I got up a little on my elbows to get a better look and it was indeed her. Smiling at me. I froze again. My heart was about to explode. I think my brain lost all its normal functions because I did something out of the usual for someone out of the usual.
I pulled her towards me and kissed her. It was my first kiss and I was just glad that it was with her.