Ugly duckling failed at love. Or maybe not?

Growing up, I never believed in forever and I never even thought of believing in true love or “finding the one”. It was all just propaganda for greeting card companies and the romantics in my mind’s eye. That was until somehow, through all the #@$%, Eli and I found each other. Let’s throw it way back to middle school. Eli and I rode the same bus and I watched him all the time. Let me paint a picture, he was the tall, slim prep boy that too many girls fawned over (or so I thought) and I was the dirty, abused girl with the crack head step mother who hated her and gave her a mullet with no party in the back and had braces. I never had clothes that fit me properly, they were all too big or too small, no in between and Eli always dressed to impress. I’m sure he smelled great, too, if I had ever had the courage to get that close. Sure, he wasn’t my only interest, my puberty hormones were in full swing, but I distinctly remember seeing and watching him. Then, in high school, I found out his actual name and would occasionally catch a glimpse of him in the hallways but the bus was still the best chance I had. I must sound like a creepy little stalker girl but let me clear, he was not my only attractant. Being two years ahead in grades, he graduated and I never thought of him or saw him again. Well, until one fateful day, I sat down on one of the couches at the college with a textbook, looked up and saw him at the table by the glass doors, reading and writing intently. I watched him, I remember the way the sun looked on his arms and how he looked almost angelic. The muscles in his arms tensing and releasing with every movement and a small furrow on his right dark eyebrow. Ugh, I sound like a total stalker. As I was sitting there, he got up to go to the front desk to ask something and on his way back to his seat, I jumped up and said, “Hey, you’re Eli, right?” Still being the ugly duckling, he gave me a small glance, murmured “yeah”, and walked around me. Feeling insulted, I never gave him another thought.

One Saturday night, after 10pm, I went into the gas station after work and one of my guy friends invited me to a nearby bar for some fun. I grabbed a redbull and agreed. I followed his vehicle to the bar and since I was his “guest”, I stuck close to him as if he were my date, sipping my redbull until I saw an old high school friend and ran over to say hi to her and her husband. As I ran over and hugged her, who else but Eli would be seated right beside her husband and having had alcohol, he couldn’t stop himself from saying “whoa” when he saw me. He didn’t recognize him since I had been a nothing to him but I was no longer the ugly duckling, I had become a swan. I gave him a dirty look when he said “whoa” and as he continued to stare at my assets, I continued my conversation with my friend. While we were talking, he asks my friend, “Hey, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” With a vicious glare that only mean girls can give, I looked at him and stated, “We’ve already met. We rode the same bus for years.” My friend, however, introduced us “Eli, Cassandra. Cassandra, Eli.” Being drunk, his response was “Sandra?! That’s my mom’s name!” with the goofiest prep boy smile I’ve ever seen and I said, “No, it’s Cassandra.” with extra emphasis on the “Cuh.” I was disgusted by his presence, since I’d stopped liking him long ago but still thrilled that he’d finally noticed me. Of course, I sent him a friend request just to test how much of an affect I’d made on him in his drunken state. Less than two minutes later, he responded with an acceptance to my friend request and a message asking for my number. That’s where it all began. His drunk night at the bar and my quick hour of fun after work. Who knew true love could start after so many failed attempts?

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