A prolonged pause.
“Do you… have any questions for me?”
I looked up for the first time at this interference in the deafening silence. My eyes wandered aimlessly. I focused on her brown hair that glistened red in the sun. And I stared at the reflection of my own hair in the condensation on the side of her glass of beer.
In that moment, I found myself a victim to my own insecurities.
My head spun to gather everything in my general vicinity. I made eye contact with everyone around me but her: the blonde middle-aged lady chatting away with her young daughter, the white-haired man reading the newspaper with a drink in his hand, and the party of five, to our left, celebrating a friend’s birthday. If there was something to see, I had seen it. I had studied every little detail around me but her.
While four-fifths of me wanted nothing more than to steal a three-second glance at her—no, it didn’t even have to be that. It could be a third of a second for all it mattered. Four-fifths of me simply wanted to know her, but the last fifth of me knew better. So despite the pounding in my head and the ache in my chest, I refrained from meeting her eyes.
I am not one to ever be at a loss for words.
Yet, in that moment in time, sitting at the patio table of the Rock & Brew in Buena Park, I felt more mixed emotions than I like to admit that I felt. I was flustered, enraged, confused, and hurt. However, most importantly, I was small: a mere nothing in the real chaos of events.
The seconds felt like minutes, the minutes felt like hours, and the hours felt like days. Time was at a standstill, but at the same time, it was not. She and I were stuck in our own little worlds left on hold, while the outside world kept spinning.
The lady to our right laughed with her daughter about some corny joke. The party of five to our left sang “Happy Birthday.” The white-haired man went on reading his newspaper.
Was it possible that they knew the inner turmoil I felt?
No, I suppose they didn’t.
Was it written all over my face?
No, to them, I suppose it wasn’t.
She gazed at me with large, shimmering brown eyes that were identical to mine. After what felt like a hundred years, I managed to meet her eyes. Her lips curled upwards in what was to be the beginning of a smile and I extended back to her the same gesture.
Little did we know that this was the beginning of the loss of tranquility.