Oh Paul. So nice, so smart.
And probably still in Arkansas.
Last summer, when I went with my mom up to Arkansas I suffered from insomnia that was probably caused by stress, change in environment, and Paul.
Funny story you see, my mom and I have a weird relationship. It didn't really start to get weird until my parents got divorced and I told my mom, who I had been really close to up until that point, that I wanted to live with my dad..... AWKWARD.
Anyways, I used to go through these long periods of time (and I still sort of do) where I didn't see or talk to her, and then I would feel guilty. And then she would rope me into spending extended amounts of time with her. Well, after one of these bouts she roped me into going up to Arkansas with her so we could spend quality time with my new stepdad who had a job up there at the time. Also, I was a bit scared because she was taking my two little sisters up there, and I don't necessarily trust my creepy stepdad, so I my protective-ness came out.
Yeah. It sucked a lot.
On our first night there my stepdad took us bowling, despite the fact that I had repeatedly stated how much I didn't like to bowl. Luckily, they had a decent sized arcade and I managed to weasel $20 from my stepdad to use at the arcade. Once I had cashed the 20 in for quarters I made my way to the hunting games, because those are the only shooting games that I don't completely suck at. The arcade was pretty empty, and I was religiously feeding the machine quarters for about five minutes when I notice this lumberjack wannabe out of the corner of my eye kind of messing with some of the other first person shooter games.
About another five minutes, and 3 quarters later he walks over, picks up the blue plastic rifle next to mine and asks, with a hint of a southern accent if he could play against me. Me, being the smooth operator that I am, just nodded my head dumbly, almost missing the last three deer shots.
It was bizarre, to say the least. Playing a hunting game with some stranger, who could have been a child predator for all I knew. At first I didn't really pay any attention to him, and I just kept my eyes glued to the glowing screen in front of us that had the occasional deer/bison/rabbit running across it, but after a little bit things weren't so weird and I found myself exchanging friendly banter with him, and joking about how games like this make schmucks like us think that we can actually hunt successfully.
While it didn't feel like a long time, once we were both out of quarters I checked my phone and noticed that I hand spent nearly two hours at the arcade with this guy. And then I remembered that my mom had told me that we were leaving at nine, and it was already ten till. I turned to my impromptu gaming opponent and mumbled somewhat of an awkward bye/nice to meet you. And then we both sort of stood there for a minute talking, in this in between mode of leaving/staying.
"So... Thanks for wasting time with me. I'm Paul by the way."
"Oh. Yeah! I'm Lizzi."
"Yeah, um. Well it was cool just randomly playing with you. My friends dragged me here. Beer and bowling, ya know. And I'm driving them all home."
And now completely mortified because I didn't know how to eject myself from the conversation I just stood there and tried to mask my embarrassment by smiling and trying to walk out of the arcade area. Paul was a bit of a chatter box. In the span of a few minutes he had informed me that he went to Arkansas Tech, worked at a Hot Topic, and was wondering if we could hang out more while I was still in town.
I don't know if I was completely out of my mind, or if I just wanted to rebel against my mom, but I gave him our address, and told him I could hang out at night.
So we did. And for the rest of the 5 days I spent in Arkansas, those 5 nights I also hung out with Paul. The entire time I thought, "Man, this is some weird Nick and Norah stuff. Stuff like this never happens in real life." But it did. And it was the most fun I had that entire summer. We drove around town, walked in some creepy fields with the moon lighting our way, and got the munchies. A lot. When I left Arkansas we didn't say bye, exchange numbers, or become Facebook friends. He emailed me once but I didn't respond. I knew it wouldn't be the same, so I just let it be.
For the longest time I didn't even tell my best friend about him because I knew that if I did it just wouldn't be as special. This was the one thing that I didn't want to over think or over analyze to the point of it having no meaning. He was cool. And now I think about how much I've changed since last June.
It's like the freaking Twilight Zone in my head whenever I think about Paul.