Then there's Sam. He’s the type of guy who could make you believe in love at first sight. The guy with the 5.0 GPA, the hottest guy in the school, the fastest cross country runner on our team, the badass who got wasted every night, the one who could drive, and the one who could make me laugh like no one else, the only one who could have me forget my awkwardness and have fun yet hidden beneath his swag was a guy who deeply cared. He was inspiring, he broke all labels, and he couldn't be defined. He was a guy who could have anything, so why would he waste his time with a girl like me? 

Everyone has his or her flaws, and as I was soon to learn with Sam, no one is perfect. There is a saying "A wise man learns from others mistakes, a man learns from his own mistakes, and a fool never learns."

My experience with Sam was one of a bittersweet roller coaster. 

The first time I talked to him, we were all doing stretches and I had been talking to my friend. We were talking about this great gay guy I had just met, and by accident I called myself a homosexual.  He laughed. I hadn't realized he would be listening. A guy like him, surrounded by friends, didn't take the obvious path I had expected him to take. This was the first of many times he would surprise me. This was also the deciding moment, although it took me weeks to realize it, where our roles were determined. I was the one who put myself out there, made a fool of myself, and he approved.

We talked often. I'd say something stupid and he'd smile at me. He'd say something and I'd make a joke of it. This was a distant, cautious friendship. We really began getting close one Saturday practice.

It would make sense most people would not want to wake up early on a Saturday morning to go running. I wish I could do that, but I savor every moment and feel like a waste of a person lying in bed half the day, so of course I was there, bright and early. I was surprised to see him there, probably with a hangover, but he still showed up. Even weirder, we were the only ones.

Sam, although he covers it well, has a passion for running. He plays it off with his cool attitude, but there’s a reason he’s run cross-country and track all four years of high school. I suppose I was slightly surprised when he still wanted to do a hard workout. Well, hard for me, easy for him, when he ran with me, at my pace. Another surprise. We talked the first two miles, running side my side through the trees. No masks, no expectations, just us, being real, running down a dirt trail in our dirty sneakers and sweaty shirts. The wind blew, the view was perfect, the air just the right crispness there is possible, and everything was perfect. We talked about our dreams, underwater trees, our ideal Friday nights, everything. There was so much I wanted to put out loud, so much I wanted to say to him. I am a quiet person, and he listened with a genuine interest that made me want to talk forever. This was the first time I’d ever listened to him without his friends joking around beside him. He had a serious face, strong jaw, and eyes to die for. This was not the face of a shallow person. He had depth hidden, and it teased, coming out in unexpected sentences only to be hidden again. I wondered if he had been pushed to be this way, cold on the outside, untouchable. But it was possible, and I was determined to bring it out. I wanted the honest side of a person. No fake side, no hiding.

My breath was dry, my path swaying a bit from lack of oxygen from all the talking, and it was here he said he needed to go ahead. Exhausted from trying to keep pace with him while talking, I watched him pull ahead, strong and indifferent. He was the type of guy who wouldn’t let things bring him down, joke it off, and hide it as if it had ever existed. I wondered if he was even tired. He looked like he could run forever, and I wanted to be by his side. He drove me home that afternoon, many more times to follow. I couldn’t get him out of my head.

I usually know what I want, I’m not one to drift and ungrounded myself, but for the first time in a while, I began questioning my ideal guy. I’ve always gone for the shy type. The one’s with depth that are super sweet. Maybe it was time to go outside my comfort zone. I knew by now Sam was turning into a crush, but I was scared; I’d never been around a guy like this before. It would make sense for me to stick with what I was comfortable with, but I’d always been an explorer, I was fascinated with this untaken path, and I wanted to follow it, see where it went. So I broke up with Alistair. I would never want to date a guy when I liked someone else more. That’s worse than lying. So I made myself open for Sam, but other than that I didn’t want to make the next move. I told myself I was crazy, that I was kidding myself. And besides, a guy like him would never want someone like me. I laugh on the outside, but I’m awkward on the inside. I’m friends with everyone on the team, but after practice I go home to do homework alone. I still make a fool of myself so people can laugh and ease up the tension, but who wants to be seen with someone who has such low self-esteem? I was the good girl, he was Sam. And yet, people change.

The End

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