I’ve been watching your world from afar,
I’ve been trying to be where you are,
And I’ve been secretly falling apart,
I’ll see.
To me, you’re strange and you’re beautiful,
You’d be so perfect with me but you just can’t see,
You turn every head but you don’t see me.
– From the song “Strange and Beautiful” by Aqualung

4 months ago…

I was running late to my first day of classes in my first year of university. This was somewhat unlike me since I am usually the student that shows up a good ten to fifteen minutes earlier than I need to because I get anxious if I am running late. My tardiness was not my directly fault this morning as I accidentally set my alarm for 8:00 pm instead of 8 am and luckily woke up at 8:30.

I threw on my classic ensemble of blue jeans and a t-shirt and had just enough time to wash my face, tie back my unruly mess of black curls and scarf down a bowl of cereal. I normally would have put on a touch of make up and put my contacts in but there was no time that morning. Glasses it was this morning, and I thought good riddance, at least everyone will know I am a geek right away. No need to pretend I was something I was not. I know that university is often a time where people try and reinvent themselves, but I was pretty comfortable myself and was actually looking forward to university for the very reason that people seem to care less about “looking cool”. 

I practically ran to class as glancing at my watch I realized I only had 10 minutes to make it from my apartment to school. Enough time if I could only find the classroom. I wandered around with my head in the clouds glancing periodically from my schedule to the room numbers. At the precise moment I thought things could not have possibly gotten any worst, they did.  Just as I was looking at one last class number, which of course happened to be my classroom, I slammed right into one of the most beautiful men I have ever set my eyes on.

He was fairly tall, although since I am only 5’2’’ I am often looking up at people, but I would put him at 6’0’’. He had very shiny somewhat unruly black hair and his beautiful green eyes did not seem like they could decide whether they were amused or angry. I apologized profusely and we made our way awkwardly into the class. It was English class- a course I was required to take as part of my science degree. I was dreading it, and to make matters worse I had completely embarrassed myself in front of the most handsome guy the room.

“Oh well,” I thought to myself, “it wasn’t like I had a chance with a guy like him anyways.”

I realized I was staring at him when I was jolted out of my reverie by the sound of the professor’s voice.  It was going to be a long class.

By the end of the class, I still was thinking about this mysterious guy. Thanks to our professor making us introduce ourselves I now knew his name was Andrew but that he preferred to be called Drew, that his favorite colour was blue (just like mine I had thought) and his favorite food was pizza. As we were exiting the building, I spotted him out of the corner of my eye. He stopped and took out a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket, took one out and lit up. I could not just stand there watching him smoke and it was too late to walk back towards him to try and make small talk. My heart sank both because he was smoking and because I could not stand and watch.

To understand my mixed reaction to his smoking, you probably would first have to know a bit more about me. All my life I have grown up with a certain image to uphold. The image of the smart, geeky girl that would never in a million years take up smoking because why would anyone want to take up a habit that will kill you. You know the type: a militant anti-smoker that is too self-righteous for his or her own good.  But on a deeper level, I have always been fascinated with smoking. I have always wondered what it was like to give yourself over completely to something like that. I have always enjoyed watching people smoke mesmerized by how they could repeatedly breathe toxic smoke into their lung and blow it out in beautiful looking plumes. Lately, I was noticing that I was thinking about it more and more. The thing is, my shallow militant, anti-smoker self usually won when it came to deciding whether or not to try smoking. Logically, this side of me probably had it right. As attractive as it looks, smoking really is not a good idea.

Smoking aside, I did not think I had much of a chance with Drew. He seemed like one of those suave James Dean types, rebel without a cause that would not want anything to do with goodie-two shoes like me. How wrong I was.

Chapter 2