I find happiness by not-dating

he shifts from two and a half to three dimensions. When it happens is hard to say. It starts out slowly. I don't even really notice it happening; we talk more and more, I find myself thinking about her, noticing her. I've worked with her for over two years and we've been friends, not good friends, just friends.I find myself paying attention when she walks into the lab. I find myself paying attention when she shifts in her chair next to me. I can smell where she has walked by. The attraction is confusing, what does it mean? Our conversations deepen, subtly. I find myself shifting in my seat, and feel an odd compunction to be almost totally honest with her, I don't know where that comes from. More and more, my heart beats faster when she's around. I leave her notes about work with little embellishments, I can't help it. I watch her, looking only when I'm sure that she can't see me looking. I wonder.

We arrange to meet, outside of work, our known habitat. She's looking at a newspaper, it's Friday. "Hey, this band is playing that I've wanted to see, tomorrow night", she says and looks at me. I feel she must be expecting an answer to her obvious invitation. "Sure, I'll go, what time?". I invite a friend along, 'cause this sure is not a date, we are meeting her at a restaurant near the club at 7PM. I'm nervous, sitting across from my friend, I keep looking at my watch, at the door, back to the watch. "So this isn't a date, right?" my friend asks, looking more than a little suspicious. I partly hear him above the questions in my head, "Where is she?", "Is this her way of saying she doesn't like me?", "Where is she?", "Maybe her car broke down- yeah that must be it". We finish a beer, my watch says 7:30.

"Maybe she's already over there" my friend, I think trying to gently say "Hey, it doesn't look like she's going to show, but lets not let it ruin the night since this isn't a date anyway". We get to the club and she's not in the line, I know, I check twice. Inside, my friend stakes a place on the floor before the band starts. "I'm just going to go and check through the place, in case she's here". He's-got-it-bad is written on my friend's face. I search the crowd, face-to-face, looking for hers. The club is laid out in a sort of loop and I make the loop twice, nervous energy pushing me through the throng. I watch for long, black, beautiful hair, but don't see hers. It's nearly 8, I begin to lose hope, even if she is here I won't find her. What if she's here and I just can't find her, I'll just keep looking and looking and searching after her, what if I fail. This thought drives me, I search with an expanding urgency. I start to feel two paths under my feet. In one path I find her, she's here, we continue on that path together. The other, I don't find her, I continue alone on that path not knowing what could have been. The lights are beginning to dim, the band is about to start playing. The despair I begin to feel brings me to a revelation; this means something to me, more than just a crush, more than just an idle feeling of attraction. This is something more than what I had thought, this is a surprise.

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