The problem with my list was it would go something like this:
1. His eyes get really crinkly around the edges when he laughs.
2. He mentioned being interested in learning to play golf. Who would say that? Definitely a dud.
4. Oops! I think he's coming. How's my hair...??
Yes. It was a lost cause, and that annoyed me.
Rey got in the habit of coming 15-20 minutes early to English class. I was always there. A good teacher must be well prepared. Rey would arrive with the pretext of some overwhelming grammar issue, and I would work on answering his question in the most professional way-- and inevitably after about 2 minutes of that we'd end up chatting and laughing.
When the other students would arrive, we'd seperate and never speak to each other again. Reminding myself I was giving him the aloof act, I would make a point of never calling on him in class.
After class, I would take the time during my drive home to scold myself for the butterflies I'd get in my stomach whenever he'd come through the door and for actually laughing at his jokes. I was really going to have to watch it.
And so went the summer. We normally saw each other Tuesday and Thursday evenings for classes and not much more. There were some birthday parties and soccer games thrown in there. But, since Rey normally only really chatted with me when no one else was around, I just figured he wasn't really interested.
One night in English class, Rey showed how sly he was. I had the class divided up into 3 groups. Beginner, Middle, Intermediate. I would float between the groups. That night, as I came over to the Intermediate group (which Rey was a part of), I saw the guys passing around a little scrap of paper. I asked if they were passing around love notes. Rey said he was getting everyone's email addresses and wondered if I'd want to add mine to the list.
It wasn't until after class when everyone was gone that I realized that he had probably pre-thought out that whole scenario. Pretty sneaky.
And so began the emails. Very short, "hey friend" type letters. "I cut grass today, what did you do?" type correspondance. Until this one email from Rey: "Hey, a friend of mine was asking if you have a boyfriend...." Ok! Wait. Who doesn't see right through that?? So I responded that he should tell his "friend" to come ask me in person.
Which resulted in a rather uncomfortable English class a few days later. And, when Rey stayed after class... the tension grew a bit. Yes, he confessed. He was the one who wanted to know. He felt embarressed to be so forward about his question, but he knew he was going to have to go back to Mexico in a matter of weeks. If we went to school together or something, he said, he would not have asked so abruptly. He went on to explain how he felt about me and what he thought of me. He talked about hopes and life dreams.
He really put it all out on the table.
At which point, our manager walked in. He had seen the lights on in the building and assumed I'd forgotten to turn them off. "Guys, it's 10 at night. Shouldn't you be going?" Both red in the face, Rey and I scurried out of the building and left after hurried goodbyes.
Which meant, I had to answer Rey in email form. In that email, I explained that I was in a rather complicated relationship. Not nessesarily boyfriend, but that is what he wanted to be. I knew I wasn't in love with this other guy and was frankly feeling very confused having just found out that the guy I knew I liked.... liked me back! I felt that I would have to communicate with this other guy before getting back to Rey.
Rey skipped the next English class. When I talked to my brother about what was going on, he said, "Liz! You are a manslayer! This guy just unveiled his whole heart to you and you flushed it down the toilet. He is probably dying of embarressment right now!"
That felt like a slap in the face to me, because that was not at all the message I had wanted to send. I hoped, hoped, hoped that I'd run into Rey again... I wanted the chance to explain. I really did like him. A lot. I was really flattered that he liked me back. I already talked to the other guy and told him that I'd made up my mind. To give Rey a chance.
The next English class, I went early and hovered around the windows hoping to see Rey pull in early on his bike. Then I could tell him.
The rest of the students came and I started class. Then, about 30 minutes into the class, Rey arrived. Dirty and sweaty. His crew had worked a long day and he'd come straight from the truck. I was so happy to see him. He made no eye contact.
I wracked my brain. How could I talk to him--without the others around? As I prepared to hand back homework I had graded, I had an idea. I scribbled across Rey's: "I would like to talk to you. Can we meet in Border's after class tonight?"
I was so nervous he wouldn't see it, or--worse yet--would see it and then ask about it right there, "Umm... excuse me teacher-- did you write this note to me??"
I looked over and saw him reading the note, and that he quickly stuffed the paper into his backpack.
Ok, I sighed to myself, We'll see.
After class, I cleaned up and then drove across the road to Borders. When I saw Rey sitting on a bench out in front of the bookstore, my blood went cold. I was hit by a major case of nerves. Ah, just turn around and leave. You don't really want to do this, I thought to myself.
But, I got out of the car and pasted on my best I-know-what-I-am-doing smile and sauntered over to Rey. "Hey, wanna go get a coffee?" He stared out into the parking lot and shrugged.
We got coffees and sat down at a table. I unsuccessfully tried to break the ice with small talk. Everything I said was met either with indifference or a short answer. Keeping in mind what my brother had said, I decided he must have been sure I'd brought him here to humiliate him more.
But, I launched into the speech I'd gone over in my head. Remember that my Spanish was very poquito, and throw in nerves.... I felt like I was trying to cross the Atlantic in a bathtub. I finally sloshed through what I needed to say: That the other guy was history. That I really liked Rey. That I'd liked him all summer. That I was just a little overwhelmed the other night. That I was sorry if I'd hurt his feelings. That I didn't feel that I knew him well enough to call him my boyfriend--but could we be friends and then see where it went from there?