Instead of a busy cafe filled with caffeine craving college kids, I decided to head somewhere cooler in order to inspect a different crowd. I traveled to the local Chapman pool here on campus (AKA The Panther Beach Club). Not only was the pool riddled with people and quirky mannerisms, but also with plenty of stories waiting to be told.
It’s a beautiful day; the sun is vibrant and imposing like the bathroom in the middle of the night. The Panther Beach Club is riddled with new faces, a new crowd of unknowing, but so willing young adults who just this week begun the journey of independence. Two young women stand out in particular.
I see two girls chatting like the best friends that they are. One of the girls, Emma let’s call her, is wading in the pool casually leaning against the side as her chocolate brown eyes engage her friend. Emma has a soft mocha complexion and is wearing a dark purple bikini. She has her hair up in a low ponytail that is now soaked at the ends with water. Her friend, Lisa, is sitting upright dangling her pale legs in the cool water as she continues to talk at Emma. Lisa is clearly the driving force in this conversation. Lisa continues her vivacious storytelling, using her hands to elaborate on the topic as her curly strawberry-blonde hair bounces back in forth. Her green eyes sparkle with excitement and you can tell Emma likes to see her friend happy like this, even if it is only a conversation about a boy she saw today in class.
“That’s him over there!” Lisa says exasperated after telling Emma all about this mystery man. ”That’s the boy I was telling you about! Oh my gosh. Should I go say hi? Em, what should I do!”
“Lis, relax” Emma giggles. “he’s not the first cute guy you’ve met here.”
They both laugh now.
“I know, but he’s definitely the cutest. Don’t you think??”
“Yeah he’s defina- hey wait a second I think I know him actually. Yeah that’s um Gregory he’s my roommate’s older brother. I think he’s a sophomore.”
“No way…” Lisa isn’t paying attention to Emma right now, she is focused intently on Gregory applying suntan lotion to his shoulders and face. “Wait Emma you know him?!” Lisa’s brain has finally caught up to speed.
“Well not really…”
“Oh my gosh you have to go say hi! You just have to! Invite him over to hang out with us or something. Oh please Emmy I know you don’t like talking to boys, but if you would just do this for me you would be the best friend and I’d love you forvever. Pleaaaseee.”
“I don’t know Lis…”
“Emma c’mon he won’t bite! Please, just go say hi. You’re being ridiculous. I thought when we came to College you were going to try and go out of your comfort zone…. Well??”
“Ok ok fine, I’ll go.”
Emma props her self up on the ledge and swings her feet up to meet her hands in one swift motion and is quickly on her feet. Before turning toward the side of the pool where Gregory is she does a hesitant look back at Lisa who is already giving her the thumbs up. And with that she turns and goes. Gregory is sitting on a lounge chair talking to some of the guys on the football team. He gets up suddenly and crosses to the pool house for a quick bathroom break. Emma sees this, but is in an awkward position now because she is headed right pass the bathroom. She doesn’t know if she should turn around and retreat or stay and risk an awkward run in. She’s so unprepared, she thought she would have a few more seconds before the greeting and now she’s flustered and completely caught of guard.
Emma is so flustered she turns all the way around to find the source who uttered her name in this stressful time. Only to spin back and find that what her subconscious already knew was that Gregory was the one who called her.
“Hi Greg! Er um Gregory? I don’t know what you prefer to be called actually so I don’t know if you even like Greg. I mean it is shorter so that’d be nice I guess…”
“Yeah Emma it’s chill whatever you wanna call me is cool.”
“OK, cool. See ya around!”
“See ya” She says but he doesn’t hear her. He’s already gone inside the pool house.
As she turns to go she hears the door to the pool house door and suddenly Gregory is back.
“Hey Emma um I was going to see if I could have your number. I could text you later or something?”
“Yeah! Cool. Um it’s 374-928-4772.”
“Ok I’ll text you.” He turns and waves over his shoulder.
The smile is huge and Emma feels on top of the world. She turns on her heels and floats to Lisa, lifted by thoughts of excitement and uncertainty.
“Oh my gosh, what happened! Tell me everything.”
“Well first I started rambling, as usual, and then I don’t know. He kind of just asked for my number!!”
Both girls giggle/scream.
“Did he say anything else?”
“That’s okay we can totally work with that! Oh my gosh I am so proud of you Emmy.” Lisa squeaks.
“Thanks.” Emma says feeling a little embarrassed, but unsure why.
The girls continue to talk about mindless things; how Lisa’s nails are chipping because she keeps picking at them, or how Emma really needs to get a haircut because her dead ends are becoming abundant, or maybe just how good the hot sun feels on their bare skin. As the conversation goes on Emma slips away into her thoughts and dreams. She realizes the importance of what just happened with Gregory. Sure Gregory was cute and seemed relatively nice, but who knew he would stand for so much more. He stands for everything in the unknown. Her timid behavior is something that has always held her back when dealing with new and challenging situations. She decides that this new chapter in her life, this new college experience should indeed force her to step outside of her comfort zone. It is a new beginning filled with more confidence. Maybe college won’t be so terrible after all.