It was Friday again, and after a long week of work, the only thing on my mind was sitting on the couch with a big pot of popcorn while watching some tv show. I was a twenty-seven-year-old woman who had never experienced a real social life, and it wasn't like I wanted to try it.
My best friend called me when I was about to turn on the TV.
"Guess what!" She expressed, very excited.
"What's up?" I asked.
"I met someone through a dating app, and we have a date tonight!"
"A date! Isn't that risky since you don't know him?" I questioned her.
"No, not really. According to the app, Daniel is my other half." I giggled, then we talked for a while about the dating app.
When we finally hung up, I turned on my computer and searched for an online dating site. I filled out the form using a fake name and sent my request so the algorithm would find my supposed perfect match, but of course, I took it as a joke.
The next day at 7 AM, my phone started buzzing. I have always been an early bird, so I was awake. I got a new notification from the website.
A man called Noah Allen had sent me a text since the app said our
"Hey! Is nice meeting you!" He said.
I started tapping, but I didn't know what to say. Since Noah was a stranger, what was I supposed to say?
"What are you doing up so early on a Saturday morning?" I asked, as the first thing that came to my mind.
"I like running during sunset time, what about you?" He said.
"I am not a fan of running or sports in general. Well, except for horseback riding."
"So, you like horses? That's impressive. The last time I tried, I couldn't even get on the horse."
"I mean, I did horseback riding since I was a tod. One day I fell off the horse. I had a tough back surgery, and I almost lost the ability to walk. Since then, I have been terrified of riding horses again."
After I sent the text, I couldn't believe what I had just said to a stranger.
"That should have been hard, but you know what, it made me think about one of my classmates from high school. Her family owned a farm, and she also fell from a horse. She was absent for almost six months.
That made me think. I was sixteen when the accident happened, and I was in high school too.
"Noah Allen," I said out loud. "His name sounds familiar to me, but from where?"
"I got to go!" I texted, then I left the chat.
I hustled downstairs to the living room, where I kept some old things from school. I took out the yearbook from grade twelve.
The photos of all my classmates were in the yearbook, so as names.
There he was, Noah Allen, known as Runner, the most popular boy in the whole high school. An athletic football player. He also had satisfactory grades. Any girl would die for Runner barring me. I have never been very social, and he never interested me.
I couldn't understand what he was doing on a dating app. I thought someone challenged him to do it, or he was bored, but he couldn't be single.
"Done with my morning run!" He texted me an hour later.
"Great!" I said with no real intention to continue talking with him.
I was about to leave the chat when he said. "Remember that girl I told you before, the girl who had the accident."
That girl had been me, of course, I remembered. "Yeah, I do."
"You told me something personal, so I will tell you something I never told anyone, but now I remembered, and I couldn't stop thinking about it."
My heart started beating quicker as I read his text since I knew it was something about me. "I don't know, can you trust a stranger? ;)" I text, trying to sound snarky.
"Well, you trusted me, and now it's my turn. During grade twelve, my parents got divorced, not legally. My father, a drunk man, left my mom, younger brother, and me. He never came home again, and during that time, I became a complete lout, playboy, or whatever you want to call it.
My grades dropped. All the effort I had put in during high school had gone up in smoke during grade twelve.
The teacher assigned the girl from the horse accident to help me study math because if I didn't pass that exam, I would fail the year, but thanks to Julie, I got an A. That day I realized what a smart, kind, and beautiful girl she was. I told her my father was gone, I trusted her, and Julie responded with a phrase I will never forget."
I read the text, and my eyes started watering. Of course, I remembered the advice. It was a quote from Maxime Lagace.
"Trying to avoid sadness is trying to avoid life." My dad told me that quote when I had the accident. I was wretched, thinking I would never be able to walk again.
"So, what happened?" I asked since I didn't remember what happened after I helped him with the test. We didn't talk again.
"I had no one to go with to the prom, and I wanted to invite her, so I told my friends, who were all stupid, and they all made fun of me. They told me she was a nerd who wasn't good for me.
During the prom, the boys, who were supposedly my friends, made a joke to her. Her dress got ruined, and she cried in front of everyone. I had nothing to do with the prank since I had changed my attitude, but I knew who where responsible, and I did not accuse them. Those three boys made her have a terrible memory from her high school prom, and I still feel guilty for that."
I was upset, surprised, and even confused. Ten years ago, I thought no one liked me, and I thought something was wrong with myself. Knowing what the most popular boy in high school thought about me changed my perspective. He believed I was beautiful, and he liked how smart I was.
It is not that I had to hear it from someone who led the high school society, though no one had ever made that kind of accomplishment to me.
"Sounds like she was special to you." I text.
"She was, but do you think it was my fault? My friends didn't even know I knew they were behind the accident."
I was upset, but I had forgotten about that prom years ago. The waiter spilled a whole pot of tomato soup on me, I was thankful that it had been leftover, and it wasn't as hot, but it ruined my hair, dress, and makeup. I had to leave my graduation dinner half an hour after it started.
"Well, if you didn't plan it, it was not your fault. Saying who the responsible where wouldn't have changed anything."
"I could avoid it. It had been a plan that I heard."
"Noah, trust me, I am pretty sure that girl you are talking about has forgotten about the incident already, and you are still torturing yourself."
That was the end of the conversation about the prom incident, and I was not mad at him, but finally, I could know it was not an accident.
I discovered who Noah was. Who he had become ten years later. All that only through a dating app, using the chat, but I didn't know if I ever wanted to meet him again.
A month later, when I told him how much I loved Mexican food, he said.
"I know a delicious Mexican restaurant."
"Where?" I asked.
"You know what, I think it's time for us to meet. We should go together."
I didn't text him back. I was doubtful about how meeting each other could go, and I thought he would regret talking to me for a month.
That night I remembered how much I was worth it because I was who I am. I was not weird or ugly, as I thought back in high school. Ten years later, I had become a woman who did not learn to value herself. I didn't want to spend another Friday night sitting on my couch alone. Fridays no longer meant staying on the couch!
"Alright, we can meet each other!" I texted him as fast as I could, so there would be no turning back.
Ten minutes later, Noah answered with a happy face emoji. Then he sent me the address. We would meet for the "first time" the next day at seven p.m.
I was wearing a dark blue dress leading my green eyes to highlight. I curled my hair, and I was wearing white sneakers.
I took a taxi. I got to the restaurant, and I told the waiter. "I am here for the reservation in the name of Noah Allen."
The waiter guided me to my table. In less than a minute, many things were going through my mind. I was nervous since he wouldn't recognize me because I wasn't the same girl in the photo on my profile.
I found myself standing in front of a man who seemed to be very proper with a suit and tie. He looked different from high school, but his scent was the same.
He seemed confused when he saw me standing in front of the table.
"Hey!" I said. Everything I was ready to say seemed to be gone from my mind.
"Do you need help?" He asked me.
I took a deep breath, all I had planned to say was gone, and now it was time for me to talk with my heart.
"Remember what I told you before?"
Noah said shorty. "I don't have a clue."
"Trying to avoid sadness is trying to avoid life."
Noah dropped his jaw to the floor, and then I kept talking. "That quote is correct, and so is this one. Trying to avoid who you are, is trying to avoid the real you. It's something I learned from life since I had been trying to hide from the real world."
Noah stood up, and he finally said something. "Julie Marie? Are you Hanna from the dating app?"
"Certainly, I am not the girl from the profile picture, but you talked to me the whole time. We can say it is destiny."
"Since the prom, I wanted to contact you, but I couldn't find you anywhere."
"I told you, I forgot about the prom years ago. I forgot that night, but I don't think I ever freed myself from high school."
"What does that mean?" Noah asked me.
"We're just too different. Back in high school, I kept telling myself that I was different from you, and from the others. Now I see how wrong I was."
"Maybe you did forget the prom, Julie, but I didn't forget that night. I should have done something."
"Done something?" I asked him.
Noah approached me, and then he kissed me. What they say in the movies about butterflies in the stomach is true. I had had my first kiss with the popular boy from Saint Thomas High School, but now everything was different. Neither of us expected fate to bring us together. It all happened when I was willing to spend the rest of my Fridays in front of the television. Life changed for both that Friday, and we both found love. Besides founding my perfect match, I also learned something. High school or society doesn't define who you are, but you do. Then make yourself count.