That was my sole waking thought that morning when I opened my eyes. The sunlight was streaming in through the faded purple curtains which were parted just enough to let the glare in. I was happy to see the sun. It had been a long cold winter. I welcomed the warmth of the rays and let it burn my eyelids as I squinted to see. But even as joyful as I was to see the sun, I wanted caffeine more.
I wanted it so bad I could almost taste it.....smell its enticing aroma.
Nothing would do but an Americano. Which was exactly why I threw on the first available clothing, quickly combing my messy curly brown bob and hopped into my Honda to go get caffeinated.
I stood impatiently in line.
Obviously, lot's of other people had the same idea I did. I had my bag loosely slung over my shoulder which held pretty much everything I needed to get through my day. My wallet, some lip gloss, paper, pens, keys and about a million other things including an emergency white tank top to change into when I slopped something on my shirt. Which always happened. It was inevitable.
It sure was crowded in the 2nd Avenue Starbucks today. Unusually crowded.....maybe mobbed was the word....for just any Saskatoon Monday morning. I might have seen a flashbulb from a camera. It was much too early for tourist season.
From behind me I got shoved.....rather my bag got shoved. It tumbled to the floor with its contents embarrassingly flying out and scattering across the floor.
Immediately, I was down and scrambling and crawling around to pick it all up. But so was someone else.
“I'm so sorry.” He mumbled, crawling around with me gathering things up. I looked over to see where the voice came from. He wasn't clean shaven, had messy hair much like my own and the most incredible blue eyes I've ever seen. Then He stood, holding onto my white lace tank top.
I grimaced and grabbed it from Him. “er, thanks.” I shoved everything back into my bag. He handed me my new copy of Dusk grinning a lopsided grin.
“Good book.” He said.
“I wouldn't know.” I responded taking the book from Him a little gentler than I had grabbed my tank top. I shoved it into my bag too. “I'm only on the first page.”
“Oh.....well keep reading.” He gestured toward the counter. “I think they're waiting to take your order.”
While the whole exchange had gone on the line had moved ahead and now I was at the counter and the barista was looking at me annoyed. I guess I was holding things up. Did it really matter? It was so busy and it seemed like the other barista's had their hands full making drinks that were lined up and down the counter.
“Grande Americano with a shot of sugar free caramel syrup.”
“Make that 2.” He said, slapping down an American five dollar bill. Who was this guy anyway? “I feel bad for knocking your bag down.”
The barista fumbled around with the foreign money and needed to consult with someone else about the current exchange rate. They were befuddled.
By this time I had found my wallet in my now very unsorted bag and had pulled out a Canadian fiver. “Here.....take this instead.” I said handing them my money. They looked relieved and handed me back the American five. I tried to hand it to Him but He waved it away. We walked over to the red dangle-y lights to wait for our drinks.
“What is there to do in this city?” He asked me.
How could I tell Him this was it? This is what we did for excitement here? When winter lasted for what felt like 10 months and the summers seemed like little blips on a heart rate monitor. Of course when it was summer it was beautiful here. But this is Saskatchewan we're talking about.....and its was only April. Nothing was growing yet and the snow had just melted leaving behind dust and mud. Not exactly the best impression for a newcomer. I was going to be honest.
“I don't know what other people do.” I answered. “But I hang out in coffee shops, go to the occasional football game and shop.” Oh yes, I liked to shop.
“I see.” He looked disappointed. He was planning His escape.
Just then the barista placed our drinks in front of us shouting “Grande Americano.” I grabbed mine eagerly. I had waited a long time for this.
“Thanks for the drink.” He said laughing a little. I detected a little embarrassment over the money thing. He turned, smiling, and smiling with His piercing blue eyes. “I'll see you around.”
Then He was gone. The crowd seemed to dissipate in His absence. I was still holding onto His crumpled up five dollar bill. I tossed it into my bag. Interesting, I thought, you sure do meet some weird people sometimes. But then I attracted weirdness. I thought back to some strange predicaments I had found myself in before. Then I shuddered.....I shouldn't go there.
I looked at my watch. It was time I get a move on and get to work.
It wasn't a long journey. I worked at a bank right across the street. I was just a teller.....or rather a customer service representative, as they were called these days. It wasn't a glorious job, but I had endured various jobs in retail and this was much better. The hours were reliable and the workplace was friendly. I don't know if there was a future here, but it provided a nice steady paycheck which put Kraft Dinner on my TV table seven days a week. I liked the regular work hours I had a the bank. It would allow me to have a social life.
Only if I did have a social life.
I had tried to make friends and settle into life here in the Big City. But it was hard. I had even joined a gym in hopes of meeting people. That had been a mistake. It only left me sore and detesting the gym. I knew a few people from work and we occasionally went out for drinks, but I definitely did not have a clique like other 20 somethings did. I was no Jennifer Aniston and no one would be bursting into my shabby little apartment unannounced.
I was brought out of my pathetic reverie at my counter as I realized a new customer was standing before me.
“You again.” He stated. His eyes were even more incredible under the florescent lights of the bank.
I was befuddled.
Then He smiled the same crooked smile that I had seen briefly at Starbucks and my heart might have stopped. I know my breath was taken away. I gasped.
He ignored me. “I thought since I'm going to be in Canada for awhile I should exchange some of my money.” Smiling more now.....my pulse quickening.....and now I was sure that I did have a pulse. “So I can buy coffee on my own tomorrow morning.”
I smiled now too. Was he flirting?
“Well, I think I can make that little exchange for you.”
He placed a stack of colorless bills on the counter. I had to look up the current exchange rate and quickly made the necessary calculations. I remembered how the barista from the morning couldn't complete the simple task. I shouldn't be so hard on her. Not everyone was good at meaningless mathematical equations.
I replaced the bills with a rainbow stack. “You'll probably need something smaller than fives.....too.” I removed a ten and found the necessary change in Toonies and Loonies. “They're heavier to carry around but very convenient.”
Who was this suddenly professional persona I was channeling?
He took the bills folding them into his leather wallet and placing it in his back pocket like most men do. Then He took the gold and silver change and slid it around in his hand. It made a happy clinking sound.
“What's your name?” He asked.
“I'm not sure I should tell you.” I teased.
“Well if I see you again, I'd like to be able to say 'hi Pam or Karen or Matilda' or whatever.” He grinned.
“Matilda?” I pouted. “I look like a Matilda?”
“That depends.....is Matilda your name?”
“No!” I blurted. I could feel my cheeks redden.
“Well then you should tell me what your real name is.....I believe its a common courtesy to greet someone by their name.” He was trying to persuade me and he was doing a good job. His eyes twinkled and he flashed the lopsided grin once more.
Before I could help myself.....“Stacey.” I heard myself say.
“Well, Stacey, I'll see you.....for coffee.” But before I could say anything else He had turned and was exiting the bank.
Morning coffee would never be the same.