November 15, 2007

Construction Delays (Part One)

During the summer of 2002 I was scouting out the Sacramento area Peet’s Coffee locations in preparation for my move up from Los Angeles in August to finish school. After a four year hiatus from college I wanted an easy transition back to student life so I had decided to step down from my management position with Peet’s and transfer to a NorCal location as a regular barista to work fewer hours.

At the time I only knew my family who lived in Lincoln, so I began to look around Roseville for an apartment. Roseville was a 25 minute commute to school, but a brand new Peet’s was supposed to be opening there that summer across from the GREAT! BIG! MALL! I'm sure you can imagine my excitement. But as moving time grew closer, I kept getting the same update about the Roseville Peet’s.

Construction delays.

I realized that my only option was going to be to work at the one Sacramento Peet's location, which meant it would make more sense to move to Sacramento proper. I was bummed because this meant I would be farther from the only souls I knew(and of course that GREAT! BIG! MALL!) but I figured living closer to school and work would afford me the opportunity to meet more people -- and let me tell you, it was one of the best things I ever did. Those construction delays brought me to a major turning point in my life.

In November of 2003, a little over a year after settling into my new Peet’s and my new Sacramento life, a few new holiday hires joined our store. One of them happened to be a guy named Garrett and the first thing I ever noticed about him were his incredible eyes (fret not, his cute behind I would notice later). I was instantly attracted to him, but this is far from a love-at-first-sight story.

If you must know the truth, I can be a little judgmental. Snap judgments seem to be my biggest flaw, but trust me when I tell you this particular situation has certainly taught me a lesson in that. The thing about Garrett's arrival is that I wasn’t the only girl who had noticed. There was plenty of buzz surrounding him, and I thought to myself smugly, "Let the rest of these chicks swoon over him just because he's pretty. I'm so beyond that!" You see, I had just spent 4 years doing some soul searching in Los Angeles (remarkably enough you can find your soul down there if you know where to look) and I felt like I was discriminating, damnit! I had come to Sacramento with a fiercely independent attitude, and I certainly was not going to fall prey to another pretty boy with too much gel in his hair who used to work at The Gap. Been there, done that.

I decided just about instantly that Garrett and I had nothing in common and thus acted accordingly. In my book he was just another prepped out, spoiled douchebag and my independent, all knowing self just didn’t have the time for that.

To this day, that is something I regret.

I spent a good 6-8 months not being the friendliest to him, though I never could quite get those eyes out of my mind. I remember once we had a conversation standing behind the pastry case at Peet’s and the entire time I don’t think I heard a word he was saying. I was absolutely hypnotized by his eyes, and I managed in that conversation to unknowingly twist a button off the back pocket of the green Capri pants I was wearing. When I did, there was sort of an awkward pause in the conversation, I can still see it vividly. And it was in that moment I knew that I had feelings for him.

It was this giant tidal wave of emotion, and I immediately felt self conscious – sure that it was written all over my face. At the time I don't think Garrett even noticed it, but in hindsight I am surprised that I even kept myself speaking in coherent sentences. I don’t wear those pants at all anymore because they are covered in coffee stains and not to mention kind of out of style, but every time I clean out my closet I can’t bring myself to throw them out because they absolutely remind me of that moment when I knew. That moment of realization that all of my self righteous ignoring and immature behavior had really just boiled down to that elementary school style of showing affection – be mean to the ones you truly love.

I wrestled with that epiphany for a while and put it in the back of my mind. As I realized what a jerk I had been and amended that behavior, we slowly became better friends (there's a shocker) and piece by piece we told each other our stories over shared pitchers of Newcastle, and long phone calls that didn't end until one of us fell asleep. We exchanged CDs with each other, and began a tradition of doing pub trivia at Streets of London every Sunday night with a few of our other co-workers. Now, as a fully corporate Monday thru Friday 9 to 5-er, I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that I have never looked forward to a Sunday night with such anticipation as I did during that time in my life.

The best part of our newfound friendship was that on top of Garrett being a wonderful guy that I was loving to get to know, he was also my coworker (which, hello! meant I got to see him ALL THAT MUCH MORE). A few mornings per week he would be the first face I saw at 5am when we would roll into Lyon Village with our sleepy faces on and claim our regular parking spots. Those mornings are some my clearest and fondest memories of that time – the days when I got up a little bit earlier to plan my outfit and used just a little extra anticipatory Cool Mint Listerine.

I can see those days in my mind still– how on the outside they must have looked like dark, foggy, winter mornings so full of routine when the rest of Sacramento was still asleep -- but on the inside it was actually toasty warm, we were drinking espresso, cracking inside jokes, and accidentally brushing arms while making drinks. The intimacy was palpable and we built a relationship over coffee beans that plays over and over in my head to a soundtrack of Radiohead, Stars, Muse, and The Arcade Fire. To this day when I hear Muse's "Endlessly" it makes my heart beat just a little bit quicker in remembrance of that time.

But this phase in our relationship did ultimately cause a problem of its own. Not really dating, but having a relationship that didn't really qualify as being "just friends" meant we were in limbo-- and this went on for a LONG time. For OVER A YEAR! And let me tell you, for a high strung gal like me who is always trying to take action in her life– that limbo phase ate me up inside. In my mind it all made sense-- Boy: check, Great Chemistry: check, Butterflies: check, Shared Values: check – the potential was amazing and every day that it wasn’t being realized it began to irritate me more and more. All this philosophizing about life and agreeing about relationship standards-- all the laughing and having fun and the late night phone calls just weren't working for me without a label (I know, I’m a total spaz – spare your comments, I’m totally aware). BUT I WANTED A TITLE DAMNIT! I was an English major, I liked definitions, words that identified things. Words, to me, brought clarity, and I wanted it settled in my mind already. I wanted to know what we were doing, where we were going, and I definitely wanted that fairytale exclamation that Garrett had loved me this whole time-- you know, confessed preferably in some romantic, grandiose fashion


Unfortunately that wasn’t exactly how we came to be. The beginning of my relationship with Garrett was wrought with its own construction delays...

Story Continued here


Neelm said...

Come on then- you can't leave us hanging like this! I want to hear the rest :)

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