January 1 is the mark of a new year, a new beginning. It is a time when the unconquerable mountain in the distance is surmountable; the unattainable is within reach; the impossible is possible. January is perhaps the single month of the year when the walk to the gym is do-able, when brownies are replaced with apples, when papers are passed in on time and when Nicorette patches are proudly sported. Year after year, resolutions are made with the best intentions, but as the weeks pass and the novelty wears off, time and again these false promises fade out of existence. Days continue to go by as if no one had ever tried to alter his life at all.

When she slid into the space only nine rows in front and seven seats to the left, his mind simply went numb. He forgot who he was, wondered how he ended up in this room full of desks and chairs and lost all recognition of the notebook lying in front of him. He could only respond with a blank expression and a hopeless stutter when asked to explain the differences between mitosis and meiosis. The only thing he could remember was that her favorite color was blue and that he was not wearing any blue. He had been wearing a blue shirt earlier that morning, but – by what now seemed like a sadistic twist of fate – he had suffered a rather unpleasant run in with the cranberry juice at breakfast and was forced to change into his only clean shirt available, which was not blue. Nonetheless, there they were: she, the delicate angel, all he’s ever wanted, the beautiful yet untouchable, and he, blind to the 158 other organic chemistry students furiously scribbling in their notebooks, a faceless nonentity in a red polo.

But, this was nothing new to him. He could remember back to junior high as if it were only yesterday that he had a mushroom haircut and a cracking voice. He and his friends were scarfing down their paper-bagged lunches while unsuccessfully attempting to recite all twenty-six letters of the alphabet in one burp. Not a care in the world.

And then, the noise came to an abrupt halt; his friends fell silent. He looked to where their gazes were fixed, and his eyes, too, immediately became fastened on the beauty that stood before him.

Vanessa London had entered the cafeteria. No one dared move a muscle or blink an eye as the vision seemed to float past the table. He had stopped short, Oreo cookie poised in the air. Milk continued to drip from the nose of a friend whose laughter had been interrupted by the entrance of the goddess.

Vanessa stood in the doorway, holding her books in her arms, as she brushed a strand of hair from her face. He would have sacrificed anything to be one of those books. Her eyes scanned the cafeteria; she was looking for someone. He wondered what vile, damnable creature among the ranks of adolescents seated in the cafeteria would be foolish enough to make her wait.

He wanted to rise from his table and run to her. He could picture his friends’ astonished faces and how their jaws would drop in unison when he drew near the divine being and embraced Vanessa as his own. But, instead, he only watched and dreamed with every other seventh grade guy as she took one last glance at the crowded tables and made her way to the door. His heart then found a place somewhere down in his shoe and he cursed himself for yet another lost chance.

And every year it was the same. The girls changed of course – be it Vanessa London or some other tank-topped, flair-jeaned heartbreaker – but his weak knees, sweaty palms, and gaping mouth were a constant in the equation.

She rose from her seat and class was over. Powered by a supernatural force, he jumped out of his chair and found himself tripping over both backpacks and students. She buttoned her coat. He knocked over a kid with a laptop. She swung her bag over her shoulder. He hurdled over a wastebasket. She reached for the door. He reached for her arm.

Six feet small, he swallowed hard. His pulse was racing; his heart, pumping so intensely he feared it would jump right out of his chest and scare her away. But his heart managed to stay where it was meant to, and then, it was all a blur. He said hi and asked her name. She said hi and replied with Kate. She then turned and walked out the door. It was over. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he could just see those jealous seventh grade guys. Who’s the man now, huh?

Sweaty or not, he did it. He approached her. Better seven years late than never, he could finally check off his 1996 New Year’s resolution as “mission accomplished.” The failed attempts of yesterday were null and void now. He was a new man, and he knew his life had changed forever. As far as he was concerned, he had finally spoken to Vanessa London.

Polly Burokas is a sophomore in the College.

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