Friday, March 5, 2010

Who IS This Guy and What Does He Want From Me??

In my senior year my roommate Britt and I had this conversation roughly 4 dozen times -
Me: Guess who ____________ (fill in the blank with something totally unexpected like "Watched Dancing With the Stars with me last night?")
Britt: Who?
Me: Jamie Hotalen.
Britt: Really??
Me: Yeah. Maybe he does like me...?
The whole first semester of my senior year was littered with run-ins with Jamie that left me totally confused as to what kind of guy he really was and what he wanted out of our relationship. Here's a few examples:

The Soccer Field Heart-to-Heart:
Shortly after we got back to school, I went for a run on campus (with Chachi *sniff*)on a day we had a break from practice. The boys team also had the day off but when I got back to the gym lot where my car was parked, guess who was on the practice field kicking the ball around. Somehow we wound up talking. For a long time. About deep things like how we felt about it being our last year at TFC and what we hoped to do after graduation (for the record, I hoped to return to New Jersey and never leave again). At this point, I didn't think Jamie HAD a deep side. I didn't think he was capable of meaningful conversation. I thought a conversation with him would revolve around sports, movies and video games. It was surreal to actually be connecting with him. Of course when I got home I said to Britt - Guess who I just had a long heart-to-heart with about our dreams and goals. Britt: Who? Me: Jamie Hotalen! Britt: Really??

Again you'd think if a guy really liked a girl he'd continue to pursue her, build off a good long conversation. Nope. Didn't hear from him after that except for our usual passing in the gym hallway before practices. And I decided he really didn't have a deep side after all and that was just a random incident, not an indicator of Jamie's real personality.

Later in the soccer season, Gao Foua and I stayed after our practice to watch the boys practice. They were leaving the next day for playoffs in Florida, so this practice was our last chance to watch them play. At the end of practice they worked on PK's preparing for a tie-breaking shootout during playoffs. And someone suggested Jamie get in goal. And Gao Foua and I both laughed a little because Jamie is a forward, sometimes a midfielder, always a goal scorer, not a goalie. Except he was really good. And I remember thinking, "This guy really can do anything on the soccer field."

The Phone Calls:
In October, the boys team went to Florida for the regional playoff tournament. While he was there Jamie called me. Twice. Once after the first game to tell me they'd won and once before the last game so I could psych him up.
Me: Guess who called me from Florida to tell me how he did in his game.
Britt: Who?
Me: Jame Hotalen!
Britt: Really?
Me: Maybe he does like me...?

I didn't hear from him for a few days after he got back from Florida and then one day he invited me over to watch the video footage of their championship game (which they'd won). Remember the pk practice Gao Foua and I watched? Where Jamie played goalie? Well, as it turns out, the region championship game was tied after regulation, and still tied after overtime. So it was decided by penalty kicks. And guess who played keeper? It was really dramatic. In a PK tie-break the two teams alternate taking PKs, 5 per team. In this case, TFC made their first 4 shots, Southeastern made 3 and then Jamie stopped the 4th. Meaning that if TFC scored again they would win. And guess who was shooting the 5th PK? I wish I was better at describing this moment. Jamie stops the 4th Southeastern shot, takes off his keeper gloves, walks up to the PK spot and nails his shot. Goal. TFC wins.

Which brings us to our next what the?? moment: The Video
When the boys got home I was invited with a group of people over to Jamie's apartment to see the video of the PK shootout. When I walked in, Jamie was not in the living room and one of the guys yelled to him, "Jamie, Tara's here. Can we start it now?" Then he turned to me and said, "We weren't allowed to watch it until you got here." And I went, "What??" Maybe he does like me...?

Nationals in Orlando
While watching the boys final practice, Gao Foua and I decided that if they won regionals, we'd go watch them play in the national tournament which takes place in Orlando. Where Jamie's family lives. So I spent a weekend staying with Jamie's parents. This is when I really started to think maybe Jamie was not who I thought he was. If you've never met Jamie's family, there about as cool as a family could be without being Minters. I remember thinking after that weekend that nobody who was raised by those people could be as bad as I had previously thought Jamie was. During this weekend Jamie alternately ignored me completely and "flirted" with me in his subtle Jamie way. He lent me his sweatshirt when it got chilly one night and took me on a ride on his parents moped. He also sat next to me on his parents couch and watched "Deep Blue Sea" with me. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well ok but during that movie he waited just until one particularly scary point where someone gets eaten by a shark, laughed at me for getting scared and then went to bed before the movie ended. He wasn't exactly flirtatious.

The last night I stayed in a hotel with the people I was riding home with and he came over to swim in the hotel pool with us. And then sent me a text message after he left to say good night and that he hoped I felt better (I had a cold).

And then we got home from Orlando and I didn't hear from him again for weeks. If he liked me and we just had a great time in Florida together why wasn't he calling me? Asking me out? What did this guy want??

The Ballet:
Then came my birthday. Which I decided to celebrate with my brother, my roomie/bff and their significant others. And Jamie. My mother-in-law says the moment she found out Jamie was spending his Friday night at the ballet she knew he had it bad. But to me he seemed happy to go and a little bit uncomfortable to be the only un-coupled pair there. Definitely not sending out the "I'm crazy about you" vibes.

Thanksgiving Break:
Over Thanksgiving while I was home in New Jersey, Jamie called a couple times. Not every night. Not even every other night. Just once while I was driving home to see how the drive was going and once during the break to say hey. And to have what turned into a very deep conversation that left me wondering - again - who this guy was. I told Kristy about it and she said, "I think you really like this guy. I think you like him but you don't want to because he lives too far away from home." So true. You see right through me, Kristy.

Christmas Formal:
I returned from Thanksgiving fully expecting Jamie to ask me to our school's Christmas formal. That's what a guy does when he likes a girl, right? Except he didn't. So we didn't go the formal but we spent the whole evening of the formal together and then met Britt and her then-boyfriend Adam at Adam's parents house for the weekend. We played cards and had a great time and at some point I mentioned how much I wanted to go to the Toccoa Symphony Orchestra Christmas show the next day. (HINT HINT). Which leade to...

Our First Date:
Before dropping me off after our weekend at Adam's, Jamie asked if he could take me to the Toccoa Symphony later that day. YES! Ok so it was several months later than I expected and I had to practically tell him to ask me, but he had FINALLY asked me out on a real date. I was convinced he really liked me then. We had a great time and he told me what instrument they use to tune the orchestra. And how he knows that from his time playing the clarient in middle school. My brain was going Wait..What?? You know something about music? And you played the CLARINET?? By the end of the night I was sure he liked me. And I liked him. Then the evening ended and he drove me home, didn't get out of the car, didn't walk me to the door and didn't call me again for quite some time. Perhaps that didn't go as well as I thought. So. Frustrating.

The Christmas Concert:
Every year right before Christmas break TFC's music department puts on a concert of Christmas music. It's a dressy affair and a lot of people from town come. The TFC dining hall serves a fancy meal beforehand with tablecloths and candles and all that jazz. Unfortunately, being off campus, we did not get to participate in that meal. So Britt and I along with a few friends and roommates planned our own Christmas dinner which I of course invited Jamie to. He did come to dinner but I could not talk him into coming to the concert with me. He did not want to get dressed up and sit in the TFC chapel all evening. Even if it was an opportunity to hang out with me. And I began to think he must really not be interested in me after all. After all, he did go to the ballet for me. Why not this event.

And then came the mother of them all...


Cyndee said...

Tara, I guess you are a really good writer, because I know this story, I've heard this story, and yet with every cliff-hanger ending I find myself saying, "And then what happened!?!?!"

(I just hope our heroine doesn't break her mother's heart by changing her mind about returning to NJ.....)

Rebecca said...

I love hearing this story Tara! I've heard bits and pieces of it, but I've never heard the whole thing together like this! I can't wait to hear what comes next :)