It was never going to happen. For the first time in my life I was single and happy. Three months free of a tumultuous relationship, I reached a point where not even the worst of Tinder dates could get me down — and trust me, I have some stories you wouldn’t believe. Dating was actually really fun and I was determined not to allow myself to get into another committed relationship until I saw serious signs (and no red flags) that it would be worth all the energy, work, and emotion that goes into those. My friends were incredible, I was getting a promotion at work, and I loved my new apartment and roommates. I didn’t need a man.
I saw him across the office, wearing a pale yellow dress shirt with skinny jeans and a head full of hair that would make a newscaster jealous. Who was THAT? I started pinging coworkers on IM, trying to get some information about the new guy.
Turns out, he was the new intern. And even though I was on a different team, I had to train him because the person on his team that was supposed to do it was out of town. Sitting across from him in a small conference room, I dutifully stuck to the topic at hand and maintained a very professional demeanor even though inside my head were thoughts like:
- Whoa. His eyes. Are they green or gold?
- He’s so good looking. Is he Italian? Greek? (Later I looked up his last name and realized he was Chinese)
- This is Never. Going. To. Happen.
- He’s a baby.
- He’s an intern.
- This is Never. Going. To. Happen.
My dating life continued outside of work. But at work I learned more about him just by our proximity (my desk was next to “intern row”) and working on projects that incorporated his team. I learned his name was Mason Cheung (Chinese), he went to the same university as I did (though he was three grades behind me), graduated with the same major (journalism FTW), also had a seasonal family name (his Summers to my Winters), the same name convention for our Gmail addresses, and one day we both showed up wearing Richard Sherman Seahawks jerseys.
But, whatever. It was Never. Going. To. Happen. And I was seeing other people. And so was he. So, whatever.
Then I started feeling jealous when other coworkers got to work on projects with him. His laugh made me light up even when I didn’t hear the joke. I tried to talk to him about beer at an office baby shower out of sheer desperation. (Note: I didn’t know anything about beer except that Rainier was cheap and IPAs were “hoppy.”)
As the year came to an end, my dating life was pretty “meh.” Nothing was going anywhere, which was fine, and I was coming to realize the only person I really gave a damn about wasn’t right for me and we both knew it. It was time to move on.
I took my best friend to my company holiday party and she was an incredible date. Beautiful, charming, smart, and wicked funny. She met many of my coworkers, including a handsome VP and, yes, the handsome intern.
Maybe it was the months of staying away despite my burning curiosity or the confidence I’d found as a strong single woman. Or maybe it was the bottomless champagne. It’s not blame I’m looking for — it’s credit.
I grabbed his hand and encouraged him on to the dance floor with the rest of our coworkers. After the party, we sat next to each other at the karaoke bar and I tried to casually ask if he was seeing anyone. Then we talked about getting pizza.
There was a sense the following week that if this was going to be a thing, it was going to be A THING. I told my friends I had a crush on a guy from work — they thought it was the VP and teased me when I said it was actually “the intern.” Still determined that it was never. going. to. happen. I decided to cut out the flirtation, be extra-professional, and talk to him about his internship and career aspirations at coffee one morning. If I couldn’t date him maybe I could mentor him?
Instead, I became completely intrigued by him. We had so much in common. He was casual and cool and his laugh contained all the joy in the world. A few days later, he asked me if I wanted to get a drink after work. I was supposed to go on a date with this guy (we’ll call him Tweedle Dum) who pursued me for six months but always, without fail, would flake out on our plans to go on a date. So, I told Mason that, yes, I’d get a drink with him. And I waited for Tweedle Dum to flake out on our date, even though he made reservations at this nice Italian restaurant and swore up and down it was going to happen. It never did.
Actually, in the most amazing twist of fate, I ran into Tweedle Dum on the sidewalk in downtown Seattle mere hours after he texted me that he had to cancel our plans because of blah, blah, blah. Literally, my face running into his chest as he came around a corner on Third and Pine. I laughed as he blushed and when he began to stammer an apology for canceling our date I cut him off — “It’s ok, I’m actually on my way to a different date right now.”
I skipped down the sidewalks, giddy with victory, and met Mason at Local 360 in Belltown. As I drank up every word he said, it dawned on me that this guy — with his green eyes and his yellow shirt — was going to rock my world.
When he kissed me goodbye at the bus stop, I knew. This. Was. Going. To. Happen.