It was May, I remember, and for Colorado, it was very green. The city smelled like dead cows and pigs, which wasn't very strange. The bright white-yellow ball of the sun burnt everything into a soft haze of happiness -- summer was close. It was so close we couldn't just taste it, we were practically eating it.
This was the atmosphere I should have known to avoid. Spring and summer, as most people know, are very dangerous times. You get the right types of people together, and they start thinking things and being sneaky, you know? But I really had no idea that I should have been more specific when talking to Kadey about Brad*. It's not really something you consider, when faced with the idea that the RA might have a crush on you. You don't think, 'Hm, I should be sure to be very clear, so nothing awkward happens.'
No. You think, 'Nothing will ever happen; he doesn't actually like me. Even if I were sure if I liked him...nah. Not possible.' That's what you think. Silly you.
So at the end of April, a week or two before finals started, when Kadey and I were hanging out in my room talking about our ridiculous roommates, I let her see the totality of my confusion.
"We're just really great friends," I said to open the conversation. First mistake, obviously. Classic. Kadey grinned at me.
"That's what they all say before they fall in love," she said. I whacked her with a book.
"Shut up. I mean, really. We just hang out and stuff. I don't think I like him."
"You don't think you like him?" I opened my mouth but no sound came out.
"He's really nice," I said, finally, and with only a little conviction. I suddenly felt as though I did like him, immensely, but the thought terrified me and seemed false. Kadey raised an eyebrow at me and looked down at the homework in her lap, pretending to work on it. "Oh shut up," I said, knowing what she was thinking. She tucked her short brown hair behind an ear and grinned like a second-grader.
"What're you gonna do when he confesses his love for you?" she asked. I scoffed. The nerve of her.
"Brad is not going to confess his love for me. I just happen to be the only sane girl in this whole dorm," I said. "Besides you, of course. But you don't talk to boys." This time I was the one who had to dodge a book, and I did so while laughing.
"I do too! I just only talk to the intelligent ones. Plus Brad doesn't think I'm pretty like he thinks you are," she said. She had to have been taunting me. I rolled my eyes and chose not to say anything in reply. The conversation continued in much the same vein, and in the end I was more unsure of whether I really liked Brad or not, or if the thought of Damien not being there was messing me up.
Damien was...that boy. That one that you think about all the time even though you hate yourself for it. He was charming and detested it. He was cooler than me, so of course I was charmed. But he was gone, and Brad wasn't. I did eventually stop dreaming about Damien, but in this moment, I thought I could never truly like someone like Brad with Damien's promise lurking in the air:
"I'll be back this summer."
A week after talking to me, Kadey was hanging out with the RAs at the coffee shoppe. She didn't tell me where she was; I'm pretty sure I was chilling with Jack or Lilie or both. Who knows. So I didn't find out anything about the following until after what happened after the next thing. The coffee outing was apparently spontaneous, and in the midst of the other RAs, Brad nudged Kadey with his elbow and bent his head down to say something in a low sort of voice.
"Hey, so, I was wondering. Does Genevieve... I mean... do you think she would go out with me?"
"Are you asking me to ask her?" Brad, I guess, had smiled at this point, as he briefly considered the suggestion.
"No," he said. "I just wanted to, you know, make sure." The other RAs turned and paid attention. Alexis had heard my name and motioned for the others to pay attention. Everyone knew that Kadey was my best friend on campus. She (of all people) would know if I had a crush on Brad or not. I like to imagine that at this point, Kadey paused and gathered her thoughts before saying anything. I like to think that she took her time, drawing the possibilities out into the air with her loaded silence.
"You're going to ask her out?" she asked.
"I think so," Brad said. Maybe he was watching his fingers, maybe he was looking into Kadey's eyes.
"You could ask her to coffee," Kadey said. Alexis agreed. Even thinking about it now, coffee is such a good first date. Public place, everyone likes drinking things, and they have a bathroom. I really can't think of anything better.
Finals came and went; I honestly don't remember them, it was so many years ago. And then came the final day of everything, and we were all being kicked out of the dorm. My clothes and books and piles of junk were stuffed into boxes and squished into my mom's van next to the conversation starter chair and my cylindrical pillows. I hugged Jack and Kadey and a couple of others and waved and said I'd see them when we moved into our house in August, and then my mom drove me to the Humanities building to pick up my French final.
I was planning to be out of the vehicle such a short time that I left the door open. Two minutes later I plopped back into the seat and dropped the stapled pages onto the floor. "Your phone rang while you were gone," my mom said. "I didn't answer it."
"Oh," I said when I saw that Brad had called. "I must have forgotten something. Wait a sec, we might have to go back to the dorm." Silly girl, I can say that now that I look back on it. I held my hand out toward her, letting it over in the air while I listened to the message.
"Hey, Genevieve, it's Brad. Um, I just wanted to talk to you, and yeah, call me back." It was very short. I couldn't figure out why he had called, so I pushed the call button, found his name, and soon it was connecting. Beep. Beep. Beee-
"Hey," I said. "Did I forget something in my room?"
"Oh, uh, no. I actually... well... I was wondering, now that I'm not your RA, if you would wanna go out to coffee sometime?" I couldn't help it, one of my hands clapped itself to my mouth and wouldn't move. I smiled, hugely, and at first forgot I was supposed to say something. This boy really didn't lose any time.
"I...sure," I said, remembering a conversation I'd had with Lilie a few months before about just giving guys at least a first date, it took them so much courage sometimes to just ask. We kind of felt like we owed it to them for being so brave. Or stupid. "Yeah, that'd be cool."
"OK, awesome," he said. I could hear him smiling. "So...how about next Monday? I can drive down to you."
"Cool. Sure, that'd work fine. See you then." He said goodbye and hung up, and I snapped my phone shut and looked at my mom. She wasn't looking at me. "I'm going to coffee with Brad on Monday," I said.
"You like him?"
"Uh... I'll figure it out later?" I laughed, feeling a little giddy. I couldn't stop smiling. Suddenly I really did like him, and it was amusing that he had waited maybe two minutes after un-becoming my RA before asking me out. That was worth something, right?
*Names changed, of course. It's more fun that way.