James Dean / You said it all so clean / And I know my life would look alright if I could see it on the silver screen / You were the lowdown rebel if there ever was / Even if you had no cause

The Eagles, "James Dean"

It was a hot, sunny day in the beginning of September when I first saw him.

I was sitting on the curb outside Jefferson Hall smoking a cigarette and reading about the cultural practices of the Bedouins. I had ten minutes to finish an entire chapter and to finish smoking, while also paying attention to the wind, so that I could avoid flashing everyone who was exiting the cafeteria. Windy and stressful days are not the best days to decide to wear a sundress on.

The pages of my book kept flipping over in the warm breeze, so with five minutes to go I gave up and decided that I would just be behind for the class. I couldn't really bring myself to care.

I leaned back and turned my face up to the sun. I knew it was the wrong attitude to have, especially since I was the one sending myself to college. Especially since I wanted to do well in class. But sometimes you can't care, I reasoned with myself. Taking another drag, I thought to myself, sometimes you can't care, but it's especially easy when it's so nice outside.

I re-crossed my legs. One of the student managers from the dining hall came out the door and down the steps, so I put my hair in front of my face and started rummaging around in my bag for something. If one of the managers knew I wasn't sick, I couldn't call out of work later, and if I couldn't call out of work, then Nick couldn't "surprise" me with a one-year anniversary dinner that I had known about for months.

My manager disappeared around the back of the building, so I leaned back on my elbows and blew smoke up at the leaves on the tree that was giving me shade. Closing my eyes, I considered skipping class altogether, even though I was already outside the building, even though I would feel guilty about it. I toyed with the idea for another minute or so before I looked at the clock on my phone and made up my mind to go inside.

I gathered my books into my arms and stood up, making sure with one hand that my dress wasn't caught up in anything. Turning towards the door, my mind resigned to an hour and a half away from the sun, I took a step forward, and he was there.

He was lighting a cigarette of his own, and it was the glare of the sun off his lighter bouncing into my eyes that first made me look his way. His look, his stance immediately reminded me of a kid I had known in high school. The troublemaker of my class, the kid who swaggered through the halls and smoked weed in the bathroom. His name had been Johnny. This kid's stance was exactly like Johnny's. Standing by the bike rack, he was wearing sunglasses and a plain white t-shirt and jeans. Sneakers. Brown floppy hair. Skinny. Totally nondescript and not my type at all, not that I even really noticed guys that much anymore after being totally enamored of Nick for an entire year. But I noticed this guy. For whatever reason.

He grinned as I walked past him into the building. I could feel the blush in my cheeks - he had probably seen me staring. And then I was in the door, my heart beating just a little bit faster, but I was resigned to try and shake it off.

But I couldn't even concentrate on the Bedouins that day.