i saw you through the glass walls of the coffee shop, your smile lighting up the entire room. i heaved a sigh as i mustered every ounce of confidence i had to cannonball into this uncharted waters. i lifted my phone, screen off, and used it as a mirror while i practiced my smile. i felt stupid. sure, i had done these before—meeting people in coffee shops for first dates—but this one felt different, for some reasons unknown.
my phone’s screen lit up. my friends were sending me messages, our group chat was blaring: you can do this, you look great, you’re perfect; relax, dude, you’re doing great. i felt foolish for telling them i was meeting you tonight, even more so that i had been anxious about the entire situation. i turned my data off, put my phone on silent mode, turned the screen off, put it in my pocket, and took my first step into the unknown.
“hi,” i smiled sheepishly, standing by the table you were at, apologizing how it took me awhile to get here since you had been here for four hours. i knew i was only ten minutes late because of the traffic, but the idea of you waiting for hours horrified me. i placed my bag on a chair and excused myself to order my coffee, a pathetic excuse for me to leave and flail.
i stood at the bar, waiting for my drink as i watched you from a harbor of non-differentiation. the way you smile, the way your eyes glistened as you laugh, the way the lights passed through the curls of your hair, the way your dimples appeared every time you make that smirk. i gathered myself and carried my coffee to our table. we shared random stories, awkward smiles, unsure glances, butterfingered gestures, joyous eye-rolls—all of which sliding from one side to the other of the awkward-natural spectrum. all of it was surreal. surreal but nice.
my coffee had turned cold, and yours had been cold for hours. we both had forgotten about our drinks, which was weird as we both loved coffee, but we didn’t mind it anyway. we still took sips of the cold coffee we both ordered. tonight had been different, like the cold coffee in my cup—something that i do not normally have nor want, yet i surprisingly enjoyed. and this is something i can and am willing to get used to.
i offered to walk you home and carry one of the heavy medical books you had in your hands. i watched you step inside the elevator through the glass walls of the hotel lobby, sending you off the same way i first saw you tonight—through the glass walls i placed around my heart. i heaved a sigh as i walked away from the building, finally deciding that it’s time to break these glass walls down, the very self-same glass walls that i reluctantly built to keep myself safe.
with the glass walls shattered to pieces around me, i am letting myself out to uncharted waters, waters that i am willing to map if it leads me to you. and if it is cold coffee that you are, then, it is called coffee that i want: different from my usual, but it works the same way and has the same effect on me—new, but not unfamiliar.