Although Jason claimed me to be wise beyond my years – I was still a child in many ways. I remember I used to wear this red t-shirt that said, “Everybody loves an Asian girl”, I still hadn’t fully accepted salad as a meal…and I was completely anti-Starbucks.
I don’t know how this hatred came about – especially since it would be almost a decade before I worked there. At any rate, I had this notion that Starbucks was all that was evil in the world – the essence of corporate America and an insult to the working man who couldn’t afford to spend a Lincoln on coffee. I viewed it as an abomination…
“I’m not going in there.”
“Yes…you are.” he said, caressing my hip.
I was smiling now, “No…I’m not.”
His hands traveled North, over my neck and pulled my hair behind my left ear. “Not even for me?”
I turned sharply, putting my arms around him, kissed him lightly on the cheek and declared, “I move for no man.”
“Is that so?” he asked skeptically.
“Well I guess we’ll have to end this then, won’t we?” he smiled slyly, then folded his arms and took two steps back.
“And what exactly is ‘this’?” I asked, attempting to mask the fact that I had been waiting to ask that question for months now.
“Ah,” he sighed, reading me as he often did, “the lady is interested.”
“Well,” he pondered, “I could maybe tell you what I think ‘this’ is if…I don’t know…let’s say if someone came into Starbucks with me?”
He knew he’d won. He always won. And, for once, I didn’t mind to lose. I simply swallowed my pride and the smell of coffee flooded my nostrils.
“All right, I’m in…pay up.” I said, poking his non-existent tummy.
“Not so fast,” he giggled, spinning me around, “you haven’t told me what you want.”
“That wasn’t part of the agreement.”
“Think of it as a perk.”
Jason kissed my cheek as I stared at the menu. Tall, grande, venti…machiatto, breve… “I have no idea what any of this means.” I laughed.
“Okay,” he said, straightening up and flexing his arms. “Let’s do this. Mint or no mint?”
“No mint.” I answered, receiving a kiss.
“Ummm, caffeine or no caffeine?”
“Caffeine!” another kiss.
“Chocolate or no chocolate?”
“No chocolate, bleh!”
As we patiently awaited my grande caramel frappuccino with whipped cream and caramel drizzle and Jason’s grande iced white chocolate mocha, I tilted my head to the side and asked, “So…pay up.”
“Let me ask you something,” he began, “what do you think ‘this’ is?”
“I think this is a coffee shop.”
“Well, you’re wrong there…this is a coffee-house.”
Jason and I collected our beverages from the barista and made our way down to the dock on East Broadway. Port Jefferson was always so beautiful in the summer.
“So…?” he asked, excitedly.
I took a sip and thought, Damn that’s tasty. “It’s all right, I guess. So are you going to renege on our deal or what?”
He looked off to the sailboats – as though he might see us on Aurora all those weeks ago. “I think…” he paused for a moment and took a deep breath, “I think I like you more than I had originally planned.”
“That’s funny.” I stated, matter-of-factly, “I don’t like you at all.”
“Lauren can you please be serious?”
For some reason, I instantly became infuriated. Not at him or the fact that school was starting the next day…I wasn’t angry I hadn’t asked him sooner or that I had asked at all…I was engraged simply because I had let it get this far. I allowed myself to stand on a dock with this beautiful man, knowing full well I’d be leaving and my heart would be breaking. I knew the game. I knew the score. I knew I’d lose.
“I am serious.” he said, pulling me in close. “I didn’t mean to like you. That’s why this is so difficult.”
“Well,” I stammered, tears invading my eyes as I looked away, “I wish you’d have told me before we drove all the way out here.” laughing half-heartedly.
“Lauren,” he sighed, brushing a rogue tear away and forcing me to face him, “it’s difficult because you’re leaving.”
“Look, I know the science here.” I was choking back sobs. “You don’t need to explain yourself to me. I get it.”
“Look at me,” he asked, laughing slightly, “it’s difficult because…well, I love you, you dummy. And it’s going to be hard for me to let you go.”
“Me? You love me?” I asked.
“Yeah you. Of course I do…and you love me too.”
“I do?” I stammered, giggling and wiping away tears.
“Well, you just don’t go to Starbucks with anyone, do you?”
“No, I guess not.”
He kissed my forehead and wrapped his arms around my waist as he often did when we were by the water. And although tomorrow was fast approaching, all I could do was sip my frappuccino and think, This isn’t so bad, after all.