I sat behind a card table in the entryway of the Akins’ home. Hayride night. I had name tag duty.
The night was cool. Every time another family showed up, bumping their way in, with Mom holding a baby and Dad carrying a casserole dish and kids shuffling around, the cool air would sneak in, too and bring the sweet sharp tang of fall into the stuffy foyer.
It was pretty big, as foyers go, but with a couple of girls behind a table and a few more standing there to keep them company and a steady stream of families coming and going, it got stuffy.
It was a good night and I was in a good spot.
Hayrides, a bonfire, lots of food. There would certainly be some kind of drama. My friends were there. It was a magic combination — the comfort of knowing what to expect and the excitement of not knowing exactly what might happen. And I was in such a good spot, right at the door, seeing everyone who came through. Finger on the pulse, baby.
People came in, familiar and new. I knew a lot of the faces. There were smiles and greetings. I loved how easy it was to interact with people when I had a job, a purpose.
And then he walked in and I swear it was like those movies when everything goes slow motion, all the other voices and all the other faces fading to background, blurry and indistinguishable.
I know it wasn’t really like that.
I replayed the memory over and over, so many times that the memory became its own entity, separate from the actual event.
There were two basic boy-types available to me in the homeschool group: the nerdy, academic type who wore button-up shirts, spouted Civil War facts, and make jokes about the periodic table. They were fine and I was friends with some of them but I didn’t think any of them were cute.
The other kind of boy was the all-Americana sportsy type. They were sometimes funny, and sometimes cute, but not interesting and never surprising.
When I saw him walk in, he wasn’t either one of those things and I felt like, maybe, Here’s somebody different, here’s somebody new, here’s somebody I could talk to for a long time without getting bored.
Did he talk to me? Did I talk to him? I have no idea.
I don’t remember many details. I just remember this as the night when the plane of my existence tilted a little because I saw someone who seemed like they might help me clear a path to a different place.