This is the story about the time my life was almost as cute as a cheesy romcom. Except instead of kissing Price Charming at the end, I side hugged an average guy.
I walk to work every morning. It’s not the most convenient commute—it takes between 47 and 52 minutes according to my Fitbit—but I don’t mind because the the route takes me by some of my favorite places in the city. I pass the White House, meander down Pennsylvania Ave., and saunter (or speed walk and sweat depending on the season) down the bustling sidewalks of my favorite streets.
I had walked this route for a few months when I started noticing that I passed one man every single day. It may happen at different points along this one stretch (depending on how late I was running that day), but, regardless, we’d always pass. And as soon as I picked up on it, I noticed him daily.
He was the picture of a typical DC professional—cleanly shaven, styled brown hair, fast walker, and wore a crisp suit with funny looking running shoes everyday. Sometimes he’d be talking on the phone and grinning. Who is he talking to at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday? A girlfriend? His mom? I can’t imagine a guy friend is trying to make small talk right now. One morning I saw him walking with a girl. Interesting…long distance girlfriend? Why wouldn’t they commute together every day? Why just today? Maybe she’s a one night stand who happens to work near him? I’d catch myself smiling at him the same way I did to those people I had classes with in college but didn’t actually know—that awkward ‘hey I recognize you but have nothing to say’ glance. He never made eye contact.
One spring day I was walking home and saw him from afar. I looked down at my phone and pretended I didn’t see him so I could wait until we were close enough to say hi (and by hi I mean smile awkwardly as he looks past me). But when I looked up again, we were ten feet apart and he was smiling and walking right at me.
“Hi! This may be creepy, but do you notice that we pass each other every single day?” The man talks. He’s cuter than I thought. And younger than I thought. Probably late 20s. Interesting.
I laughed. “Actually yes. I’ve creepily noticed that too, it’s so funny.”
“I’m Trevor,” walking man said as he extended his hand.
“Mary, nice to officially meet you!”
We made small talk and he asked if I wanted to get drinks sometime. I said yes. There was no way I could turn down destiny drinks. We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways. I immediately called my work best friend who I had already filled in on mysterious walking man and told her that even though I knew nothing about him, I hope we got married just for this story.
And so we went out.
He was nice to me but in a way that made me question if he was genuinely nice or if he was being nice because he thought I looked cute in my sundress. He annoyed the waitress. He talked about all the famous athlete connections he had, how he was semi-excited for his upcoming trip to the south of France with his parents but that he had already been several times, and how all his girl friends from college moved to DC so his guy friends thought he was really cool and loved going out with him. We bonded over being gluten intolerant (arguably my least favorite part of myself).
He was smart, pleasant, and clearly well-off. There was nothing wrong with him. But after two dates I knew nothing of substance about him and didn’t want to end our date with anything more than an awkward side hug. And so when I returned from the trip I was leaving on after our second date, I didn’t text him like he had told me to. And while that’s normally the end of the story, it’s not the end of the story when your average date has your same commute to work.
I tried different routes and hated them all. I tried walking on my route until I saw him from afar and then ducked down side streets (pretty sure he noticed more than once). And finally I settled on walking on the other side of the street—the uglier and sunnier side that resulted in me showing up to work soaked in sweat every day of summer.
Maybe one day I’ll try the mature thing and go back to my side of the street and just smile and wave when I see him.
We’re not there yet.