Opposites attract

Part I

As I sat at my old oak kitchen table in silence, I jolted as my kettle began to whistle piercingly. I would never be able to explain why it still made me jump I had owned it for years! Nevertheless, I continued making my hearty morning cup of tea… Every single morning and it was beginning to become rather tedious. I don’t know about you but having a handsome man sat beside me sipping coffee and reading the paper each morning appeals to me more than my current routine.

***

Surprise surprise, I was waking up with a headache from hell once again. Every morning was the same nowadays. Get home at ungodly hours of the night, wake up at midday with no recollection of the previous night and being incapable of walking in a straight line for a couple of hours. Oh yeah, also without a woman beside me… Too regularly. I’m a young man, I should be thinking about settling down with a beautiful woman who makes me happy. However, I’m still stuck in my teenage years getting drunk all night, every night.

***

I owned a little book shop on one of the backstreets in the centre of London. I had worked there since I was 14 but when my boss sadly passed away several years ago, she had written in her will that she wanted me to take the business into my hands. So here I am, 23 years of age with my very own book shop. But because we were hidden away, it was rare that we even got people popping in for a browse. However, we have many loyal customers who visit a few times a week and without them, my bookshop would really struggle.

***

I had worked in bars since I was a teenager, it was my speciality and I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else with my life. You could ask me just about any question about a certain alcoholic beverage and I guarantee, I will give you the correct answer. I loved drinking, everything about it made me happy but deep down, I knew I had a problem, out of all the staff in my bar, I certainly drank the most – no doubt about it.

***

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and I had a blind date in the evening, I was incredibly nervous yet excited not having dated a bloke in at least 2 years. I needed to get back out there though, that was inevitable. I was tired of being lonely and felt like I deserved someone to love me and take care of me. I walked around a couple of my favourite clothes shops looking for the perfect outfit. I had forgotten what the feeling was like before a date but today it came back to me… The butterflies fluttering in your stomach, the out of sync heart beats and the sheer determination of wanting to look attractive. Feeling like this again was lovely and made me question myself as to why I was so anxious to get back out there.

***

I buttoned up my shirt looking into the mirror as I did so… The bar where I worked was the same every night, nothing remotely exciting ever happened which probably explains why I was always so drunk. I sat down and ate my ready-made microwave meal and I couldn’t help but wish there was someone here to talk to and to put me in a slightly better mood before I headed out to work a long, tiring shift. But I was used to being alone now, it only bothered me sometimes, I could deal with it though, I had mates who completely changed once they had a girl to call their own and I didn’t want to become one of them.

***

I was ready to leave the house, feeling strong and confident despite not having a clue what this guy was like or even what he looked like! We were meeting at a small bar, not too far from my bookshop. I decided I would keep him waiting a few minutes so I didn’t look too keen but it didn’t matter anyway. I arrived and he wasn’t there yet, almost 10 minutes later than the time we had originally arranged. I sighed and plonked myself onto one of the stools beside the bar and ordered myself a cranberry and vodka. I was prepared to wait a little bit longer for him.

***

Attractive women came into the bar all the time but I had never seen anyone like her, she literally took my breath away at first glance. I had never felt like this about anyone who had been in here before, she was beautiful. I hadn’t poured a drink for myself yet tonight but I didn’t feel like I needed to. I just had to look at her and thinking about speaking to her gave me the same rush that I got when I was drinking. I served her a drink whilst deciding how to start a conversation with her. Without a drink, I was shy and nervous around women but I knew she would be different.

***

I sipped on my drink and looked at the man who had served me, he looked a similar age to me, possibly a couple of years older. He kept glancing at me but I can’t describe the kind of look it was. The longer I looked at him, the clearer it was to me how attractive he was. Wow. Dark hair, light eyes and one of the loveliest smiles I had ever seen. Without even realising it, I was playing with my hair and fluttering my eyelashes like a teenage girl. I knew I was waiting for someone but oh my, was he handsome! I had drank a few more vodka cranberries by this point so what harm would it cause to flash him a little smile?

***

She was looking at me… I hope she didn’t think I was being creepy, I started talking to her and by this time, a whole hour had passed since her date was supposed to start yet she had stayed and chatted with me so I must have been doing something right, she asked me about myself and I didn’t have too much to say but I asked about her and found myself asking more and more because I was genuinely interested. She was an amazing person. Definitely compared to me… We were completely different people, opposites in fact. But you know what they say… Opposites attract.

***

He seemed like a real gentlemen from what I could gather. He managed to take my mind off the fact I had blatantly been stood up. I was having a good night mind… I kept finding things to talk to him about. He was fairly reserved whereas I was very outgoing and found it difficult to stop talking sometimes. I had always gone for boys who were similar to me, who shared my interests… but he was the complete opposite, and I was still attracted to him.

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Change

As I sat in the sun, embracing the rays as they gently kissed the surface of my skin, I longingly stared at the sky, it was so blue, a beautiful shade of blue with not a cloud in sight. I laid back in an old deck chair of ours whilst my music flooded my ears, right through me making me feel like nothing or nobody was around, I knew they were though and I knew it was probably best if I acknowledged them but I felt so relaxed and lost in the moment that I quite frankly wasn’t bothered if anyone considered me rude or antisocial. I felt happy, genuinely happy and the existence of other people wasn’t going to get me down, not today. Not ever again.

I wasn’t the best at dealing with social situations, in fact, I was the worst. I would panic at the smallest of things for example if my mum left me at a till in the supermarket to get some milk when it was nearly our turn to pay or if I had to order food in a restaurant. My hands would clam up, I would shake my legs, my voice would keep crackling and sweat would drip from my forehead. I was indescribably pathetic so at each and every moment that I felt relaxed and happy, I had to take advantage of it and make the very most of it.

I had been an awkward person for as long as I could remember, my siblings were forever making fun of me for it but I just didn’t let it bother me. It wasn’t until high school where it got really bad, I couldn’t put my hand up in class because I feared of answering questions wrong, I refused to eat school dinners to avoid conversation with dinner ladies who are usually friendly, I was just an embarrassment, when people began to notice this, they didn’t even pause for a second, I got called so many names such as a ‘pathetic bitch’ that’s the one that stuck with me the longest and made me realise I had to change my ways. After so many people called me names and talked about me behind my back, it was difficult to make friends and I became even more awkward. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye, I couldn’t stand still if someone was talking to me, I would mumble and it made me feel like an imbecile. For a few years I just coped with it but I just remember one day as I was trying to get to sleep, I was feeling something strange, it wasn’t sadness though, it felt worse than that. I let my mind wonder about that until I eventually drifted off but I decided to ask my mum about it the next day. I remember the exact look she gave me and the exact words that left her mouth… ‘You are lonely sweetheart’ as soon as she said that, I couldn’t stop thinking and I just knew I had to get out there and make a friend. And it could have been anyone.

I remember it so clearly because it is one of the most significant days of my life, my mum had asked me to go to the supermarket for a few groceries, I was nervous but I felt a rush of determination, determination to change and to be confident.  I was walking down the road and there was a boy sat on a bench, he looked a similar age to me and straight away I could see that something was wrong with him, he had a strange look on his face, as if something bad had happened seconds ago. I panicked but my instinct was to talk to him, console him. I wiped my clammy hands down my legs and slowly approached the bench where the boy was sitting. I sat down next to him and stared at his face, remembering this moment makes me feel so embarrassed, it was like I had never seen a human before, I just stared at him, observing everything about him, I didn’t even know whether he had noticed me but still, I continued to stare.

“Can I help you?” He asked rather quietly.

I recall thinking ‘oh Christ’, I had no idea what to reply and it felt like hours that I sat there thinking about what to say but eventually the words crawled out of my mouth with an embarrassing little stutter.

“Hi, I’m Emily, you look upset”

Had I said the right thing? Did I sound like a fool? Oh my god he was going to stand up and walk away and my confidence was going to go back to zero. I just stared at him, I am laughing thinking about this, I must have looked so silly. I thought I had gone above my standards by talking to someone highly attractive when I have issues talking to any old person. But he was gorgeous, anyone would think so. I felt so stupid because he was now staring at me, no words leaving his mouth. It was an awkward situation but it didn’t feel awkward and that confused me. After a good 5 minutes he finally replied to me.

“Hi Emily, I’m Dan, and nope that’s just my face”

The way he said that made me smile, and I let out a little giggle. He smiled back at me and I could feel my cheeks turning pink, I was blushing like a little bitch. He asked me to walk with him, I completely forgot about what I was initially out for and followed him, we walked for hours but neither of us really saying a word. He led me up to a giant hill and he sat down, so I did the same. He then began to talk, he talked, and talked, and talked. I was amazed, happy, relieved all at once, only god knows what my facial expression must have been when he finished speaking. He was exactly like me, literally the male version of me and I knew in that moment that we would get along perfectly.

Dan and I met almost every day that week, and the week after that and every other week until now, in fact, he’s sat right beside me as I write this, reminiscing how we met and how perfectly we clicked is making us both smile like idiots. I had finally met someone who understood how I had felt all of those years because he had been through the same and we wanted to help each other so very badly and we knew that we could. We shared a whole summer together, going to restaurants and ordering food, it took a while but we did it, we ran errands for our parents and visited museums and art galleries and by the end of summer we felt like normal people. We hadn’t made any other friends but it didn’t feel like we needed to, we had each other and we knew if it came to a time where we had to interact with other people, there would be no problem. He really is the most amazing friend I have ever had.

I never really knew whether Dan had feelings for me, I knew I was always attracted to him but never really expected anything from it because we were friends. But one day, we decided to visit this fancy restaurant, we were going a little bit out of our comfort zone but still, we would be fine. We sat down and were having a laugh, talking about our days and as we were waiting to order our food, Dan stood up in front of a full restaurant and denied his love for me. It was such an amazing moment because it was a giant step for him to talk publicly like that and especially to admit something as big as love. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, it was the single most adorable thing anyone had ever done for me, ever. And ever will do. I will never forget it, it was so lovely and heartfelt and I have never felt so special. He’s cringing whilst we reminisce this but he knows it’s in my top five memories that we’ve shared.

He was perfect, my family loved him, I loved him and he had made me a better person, I was no longer a caterpillar waiting to leave its cocoon, I was a butterfly ready to explore the world and meet amazing people and so was Dan, we both applied for university and we attend the same one, we have been together almost 6 years now, time really flies when you meet the perfect person. We have an amazing group of friends who know all about us both and we’ve been told so many times how confident, loud and easy to get along with we are. You would never expect that we struggled to order food in a restaurant before we met each other.

Dan and I’s story proves that once you meet the right person, your life can change for the best and you will become a different person, everyone is so proud of me and I am proud of myself. I would never survive in the world if I was still as awkward as I was in high school, I can only tolerate certain people and when I feel happy, I really take it in because I know I truly deserve it, everyone deserves to be happy, you just have to fight for it but I promise you it is more than worth it.