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Walking down this dark street at night wasn't my idea of how to spend a Friday night. I'd been walking for what seemed forever and was getting nowhere; it had to be close. A cold breeze wrapped around me pulling me backwards. I grabbed my hair, blowing everywhere in the wind; a bright yellow brown in the radiant light. As I looked up I recognized where I stood. How many times had I stood right here? How many times had I been happy, heartbroken, nostalgic, or bewildered in this exact spot? How many times will I stand here again? How long till I forget it all? Wrapping my arms around myself I turned around to walk into the warm coffee shop.
A bell rung as I pushed open the heavy door. The warm yellow light welcomed me in as I scanned the room. There weren't many people there, only a young couple sharing headphones in the back and a few people in the front watching the couple or just dazed in their own coffee. I shivered and walked up to the front counter. A barista quickly came out from the back to greet me. 'Chi latte.' I mumbled. 'Coming right up.' He nodded. I scanned the colorful chalk board ahead of me for the price; the board was the same as it had always been only the rise of prices had affected it. After paying for my drink I sat down near the tall bookshelf and looked around. A few people had left but the young couple was still there quietly laughing to the muffled beat coming from their headphones. Amused I remembered sitting there in the same situation.
There had been a bike race. I didn't really want to go, I would have preferred to go to the house, but with Richard I would have gone anywhere. It was freezing but a solitary arm made it all ok. There was lots of commotion, everyone was very excited, something actually happing in this town was a rare occasion. Suddenly everything was quiet; the race was about to begin. 'Ready, set, GO!' someone yelled as a slew of middle aged men on their bikes raced by. Down the ramp, through the crowd, around the stairs, up another ramp, down that one, up the parking garage, down the parking garage, and do it all over again. We could see the whole race from start to finish; only problem was that we sat on the bank of the lake catching the swift gusts of the wind. The cold biting at my neck was awful, I wasn't dressed for it.
Someone clearly had the lead now, no one knew who he was but he was lapping everyone. The family next to us was futilely cheering on their father who was almost dead last, except for one guy who was clearly not ready for this intense of a race. He amused us all but we quieted when we realized we'd be there to. 'Here you guys want a blanket?' someone said to me. I looked up at my savior 'Yes!' Richard and I both said quickly and wrapped it around our shoulders. It wasn't much but it did block the icy gusts of wind which was enough for me. One', two three four. The leader of the bike pack was way ahead but there was a close tie for second and third. Next lap. The lead biker raced through. Two and three were awfully behind now. The race was getting boring; we all knew who would win, we all knew who would lose. It was also getting dark because it was officially still winter. 'You guys can go back to the shop of you want.' Richard's father said; having a barista as a boyfriend really came in handy sometimes.
Knowing little of where I was at the time I didn't know whether it was a far or short walk to the shop; it was a long walk. Looking back now it really wasn't that far, maybe a mile maybe a half, but as was any time with him it passed by too quickly. When we reached the coffee shop the light was a welcoming beacon in the night. We took the small table in the back and shared his broken headphones. Avenged Sevenfold, Nine inch nails, Anberlin, A Perfect Circle, and countless bands I'd never even heard of, we went through them all. His deep dark chocolate eyes piercing mine with every glance and his caring smile warming my heart. Before I knew it I was home, time had passed swiftly and cruelly.
I knew it was getting late; the new barista kept coming out of the kitchen glancing at the clock then sulking back in. The couple had left during my day dream but their coffee stains remained on the table waiting to be wiped away and forgotten. Looking down at my latte I laughed remembering back then I'd had my first latte here.
It must have been that very same day of the race; I hadn't come out here that much. I remembered stumbling into the coffee shop embarrassed. Late and geographically confused I hadn't had the best start to the day. 'Hey' I said slowly after seeing Richard was at the counter. He looked up and smiled 'One second.' 'Oh, sorry.' I muttered not even noticing the customer he was serving. He looked amazing I remember. His brown hair slightly wavy under the weight of his grey weaved beanie, and his dark eyes; the same heart piercing wholeness as always. He was also wearing a grey shirt and although I never told him, it was my favorite. He leaned on the counter and looked up at me. 'I love tips.' He said smiling. I laughed reaching out for his beanie. 'I hate this thing.' He said taking it off and putting it on me. 'There.' He smiled. Suddenly a voice came from the back kitchen 'She here?' 'Hello!' I called recognizing the voice. 'Hey! Ready to go?' His father's face peered out of the door. 'All set!' As we started to leave Richard and his father started talking about the first concerts they ever went to. A combo of the band Weezer and someone else resulting in a fight somehow led the conversation to' 'Have you ever had a chi latte before?' directed at me. The question was so random I didn't even know how to reply at first. I'd heard of them, seen my friends drinking them, but was always too nervous to try something new. 'Uhm, no I don't think I have?' I said confused. They both stopped in their tracks 'What!? Then we'll have to make you one. Richard go get one and quickly.' His dad commanded then added, 'He's good, he'll get you addicted.' Still looking at my latte I laughed, those words were too true in so many ways.
Looking at my watch I realized it was time to leave, this shop closed earlier than most around here. I quickly found my car walking swiftly along the same path I'd taken so many years ago. To my right, where I'd learned how to parallel park, to my left, the darkening coffee shop no longer a welcoming light. I still knew this area by heart the tennis courts, my dad's old work, the mall, the streets, and the old schools I'd visited. There was still one more memory I wanted to relive and a couple more places I wanted to visit. I wasn't going to visit his house; that would have been too weird. What I really wanted to see I knew was somewhere near here. I'd always wanted to go back and visit it; I just didn't know where it was. I'd tried to find the school once but I didn't even know where to start with that so I gave up quickly. I turned down the dark back road, if only I'd of paid more attention then.
It had been the beginning of winter, early December to be exact, and it still wasn't cold during the daytime; freeze warnings at night but nice sweater weather during the day. That day I'd agreed to go to Richard's father's birthday party, it would be my first time meeting his parents. Along with them his grandparents, I think one of his great-grandparents would be there. Because neither of us was old enough to drive yet, and I lived pretty far away from him, his father picked me up on the way to Richard's little sister's soccer game before the party. He was wearing what he considered 'semi-formal'. Black tripp cargo pants with a black and white striped under-shirt and a black sleeveless jacket. No matter how bad his fashion sense got he still managed to pull it off. When we arrived at the soccer fields we were amazed. There were so many fields and so many teams! Not caring to watch anymore of his sister's games my new boyfriend wanted to see what was past the seemingly endless fields. Even though this seemed like a pointless task we went forth. When we reached the first turn of the rectangle we saw someone sitting on one of the benches of one of the empty soccer fields, they were playing the violin. They weren't bad but looking back they weren't that good either. The music in the background stuck in my head all day making me adding a softening warmth to every sentence and touch. After walking for a while we noticed something in the distance, more fields! However after reaching the fields I noticed something was wrong with them but I couldn't tell quite what. 'Look their fat kid baseball fields!' he laughed. It was true the fields were so small we couldn't imagine how a game could possibly be played on them! We ran hand in hand onto the only unlocked tiniest field. We sat down and he pulled out his iPod, and broken headphones. The only band I knew of then that he listened to was Avenged Sevenfold and neither of us really liked them that much. He was just starting to get into a new type of music and wanted my opinion on it; it sucked. He laughed; it was ok with him. The sun was shining now so we guessed it was about noon which made it impossible to not have the sun in our eyes. After moving all we could without getting up we gave up and arrested ourselves to having sun in our eyes and even though it hurt and we looked stupid we never took our eyes off each other. After what seemed like a second some people that perhaps worked at the fields were walking up to us, so we left. As we continued walk we noticed a school in the distance which made since after the baseball fields. There was no sign with the name of the school, we searched and searched, but from the posters outside the doors we concluded it was an elementary school. However it was so big we really couldn't be sure. When we came across the courtyard we stopped to lie on the ground and watch the clouds float across sky. It's funny the things you notice when you stop and look around, you may find a friend you didn't know was there, lyrics you didn't hear, a different meaning to a well known phrase, or a simple bag stuck in the top of a tree. For some reason, I don't remember, the bag in the tree was hilarious. Maybe it was something written on the bag or maybe there was something else in the tree, all I remember is right then, in mid laugh, he looked at me with his deep eyes and after a long stare, kissed me for the first time.
I smiled; once again I'd thought that day was two days. Days like that don't come often but when they do it confuses me to no end. Going to the party was another adventure. We had to pick up his best friend, which included explaining why the Cleveland Browns really don't suck that bad, and not losing to bad when guessing the songs on the radio. Video killed the radio star was the only one I got right.
The house was amazing, the beautiful sunset reflecting off the tan walls was picture perfect. We wanted to ride in their go karts but we couldn't, they were broken, exploring the forest in their backyard was stupid, none of us had good shoes for it and there was no one there his friend or I knew at the party. We ended up in the guest bedroom babysitting someone's baby and watching the hilarious TV show Scrubs. For a long time Scrubs would remind me of that day. Eventually we had to venture out to get food, with two teenage boys it didn't take long. After being forced to eat a shrimp with cocktail sauce I learned they aren't really that bad. When we went back to the room someone had taken over babysitting. Thrilled we ran outside to escape before they noticed we were back. 'You guys have to see this tree here' Richard said wrapping his arm around me and after a long silence jabbing me in the side. Instinctively I hunched over towards him. 'Look I have vampire powers!' He exclaimed to his friend jabbing me in the side again so I would twist around into him. 'I like this.' He exclaimed 'What?' I asked, 'My knee jerk reactions?' 'No!' he laughed 'holding you like this.' 'Oh barf!' his friend laughed. 'Here it is!' Richard exclaimed. Before us stood one of the most beautiful yet scary trees I'd ever seen. The tree had been struck by lightning a few years before and had died but no one had thought to chop it down so there it stood magnificent yet dead. 'I brought the camera but I think it might be too dark already to work.' Richard exclaimed. 'Oh well, you to go under the tree and we'll see.' His friend said. We both ran down the small hill into the drainage ditch which held the tree perfectly in the middle on its own little hill. Four of the pictures worked. Two of me and him, a rare shot of his friend smiling, and a single shot of the tree we all used as MySpace backgrounds. When it became too cold to stay outside and we all longed for a fire we started back for the house. To pass the time Richard and his friend both broke into song; Chasing cars by Snow Patrol. After a while though in the song they changed the word lie to die. However unfunny that seems now it was hilarious then. 'If you had to die right now how upset would you be?' His friend asked me, the answer was pretty obvious 'Uh, pretty upset!' I exclaimed 'What about you?' his friend asked Richard. He thought for a moment, 'Well of course I'd be sad,' he said looking at me, 'But if you guys died to it wouldn't be that bad.' He added gently jabbing me in the side once more.
It was time to leave the party now; apparently it wasn't that good judged by the sole fact that no one 'accidently' fell into the pool nevertheless I had a breathtaking time. Richard, pulling me into a tight bear hug on the way out to the car said; 'Today was fun.' I smiled 'Yes, We should do it again.' There was no reply, only a kiss, and that said enough. The car was warm, and the drive was long, we both quickly fell asleep but right before I went completely under I felt a warm kiss on my forehead and a slight jab to my side.