On Friday, a tweet by AudioRebellion dredged up a memory from when I was in Chapel Hill:
Location: Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC
Time: Various, 2007-2008
I had moved from my first, relatively crappy, Chapel Hill apartment and into a better one in Carrboro. Interestingly, this second place was originally my first choice when I was apartment hunting with my parents back in June 2006.
Now directly across the street from my complex was (not surprisingly) another apartment complex. As such, a whole bunch of people would get off the local bus system at my stop. So eventually I started to see the same faces on my ride home from “work.”
In my year of living in this second apartment before leaving North Carolina, I can specifically recall only two faces from riding that bus. One was a cute Jewish brunette that lived a building over in my complex and the other was a cute blonde that lived in the complex across the street.
I’m going to talk about a missed opportunity on my part with the blonde.
To provide some background for myself at this time I’ll say this: I was finished with my classes and focusing on my research project, hence, I was “working.” However, the fact that I was essentially banging my head against the wall with my reactions* didn’t exactly put me in a happy state-of-mind. So, at the end of each day, I’d stick in my earbuds to occupy my thoughts and exhaustedly ride the bus home to left-over pasta (or chili) and unfulfilling sleep.
At the time I really wasn’t in the right state to really do anything and that showed in my appearance during the week. You have to realize that working in a chemistry lab you cannot wear nice clothes, since they can be wrecked by the various solvents and reagents used daily. Although, I suppose I could have, but I didn’t want to wear a lab coat all the time or I couldn’t even afford good clothes for that matter.
For the most part, my wardrobe consisted of long- and short-sleeve t-shirts (no holes), jeans (also no holes) and casual shoes (Adidas sneakers/Chuck Taylor’s/Sketchers). I shaved once or twice a week (what I jokingly called a “hobo beard”). Thanks to the low humidity in the Piedmont region, my curly hair didn’t get frizzy which saved me some money on hair stuff and would allow for my hair to curl naturally as it air-dried.
Now, going home in the evening, I’d usually get on the bus at a less “popular” stop, so I could get a seat. Stinking of chemicals and sweat (I walked at least 2-3 miles over the course of a day), I’d fall into an open seat near the back exit and veg out, enjoying the heat or air conditioning and trying not to think about work. The bus would pull out and then go to the next stop where there were always a lot of people queuing up.
I usually got lost either in my thoughts or the song I was listening to, but kept aware of my surroundings. I’d see people getting on and sitting down. Recognizing those that I’ve seen before (like the Jewish girl, for instance). Overhearing a louder-than-necessary personal conversation or the gossip from one of the health sciences majors, which were interesting but forgotten easily.
It took a few times for me to actually notice this, but this blonde girl would usually take a seat such that she was directly across from me. Sometimes I’d feel eyes on me and look up to see her quickly and demurely drop hers. She’d usually have a slight smile on her lips and a slight blush to her cheeks doing this.
Now the blonde was a typical “sundress and pearl-necklace” Southern girl and, if my memory serves me correct, I never saw her dressed sloppily. Skirts (long- and knee-length), sundresses, good jeans, shorts, coordinating tops and different shoes/sandals (no uggs). She was cute and thin. And as per my usual preferences, I loved her bright blue eyes.
My interest was piqued, but what to do?
At the time, I had zero confidence in myself and the stress/anxiety of my work was starting to develop into a mild form of depression (one of the reasons why I took a Master’s). To boot, I was broke. Even going out for something cheap like coffee would severely kill my budget.
[Note: If you’re going to say, “Why didn’t you have her come over to your place for a cheap movie and wine date?” I’ll say two things: one, hindsight, and two, I didn’t know how “traditional” this girl was. Yes, they do exist.]
Many times after getting off the bus I tried to muster the courage to catch up to and talk to her, but I failed each time. Basically my belief that there would be a “perfect” opportunity where everything would be right ensured that I pre-ejected from the approach each time. So I’d see her walking in front of me, I’d feel myself bitch up, tell myself either “she probably has a boyfriend” or “next time” and then cross the street to go home, kicking myself mentally with each step I took.
To be completely honest, I was scared. Scared of what to say, scared of how I’d talk, scared of how I’d act, scared that I’d look like a dork, scared of what the other people would think, scared of rejection, and scared that she’d accept.
I had no idea what I was doing and it made me fearful.
Eventually, I graduated with my Master’s and then moved back to my parents’ house in Buffalo, having never talked to the blonde girl at all. She continued to look at me until my last day on the bus in May 2008. A simple “hi” and a smile on my part and maybe things could have turned out differently.
I regret not doing something then, but without regret there is no personal growth.
*I reinvented the wheel a couple of times, infuriating to say the least.