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Memories out back.

Last night, I joined a girlfriend for dinner before an event we had tickets for. The event, an MMA fight, was in an area of town that doesn’t have much going on. The best we could find was an Outback Steakhouse.

Outback Steakhouse was the first job I ever had. I was 16, had just gotten my license and a car, and a few of my friends worked there. After filling out an application, taking a quick math test, and passing an interview, I landed my first moneymaker.

I was so excited.

I didn’t realize it then, but it was a pretty lucrative gig. I was a hostess, so my job was simply seating guests and rolling silverware. I got a small hourly wage and a percentage of the tips for the night.

At 16, I was blind to several of the problems my older coworkers had. I was just there for gas money, while some of them had families, and mouths to feed.

That same year, I went to our high school’s winter formal with one of my best guy friends who also worked at Outback with me. We joined a group of our friends and coworkers for the dance and decided to head to Outback when it was over.

To our surprise, our coworkers let us in after the restaurant closed that night. They let us in the kitchen, in our formal wear, and fix ourselves slices of raspberry cheesecake.

It was simple, and it was so much fun.

I had forgotten about that night until I sat at the Outback bar last night. Just as I was approaching my second margarita, a group of four high schoolers sat near us, dressed for prom.

They were taking funny pictures, laughing when they teetered in their uncomfortable heels, and were constantly adjusting their shimmering gowns.

It took me back, ten years, to that night with my friends.

“I would love to go back,” my friend told me. She was looking in their direction, too.

“Me too,” I said. “I cared so much back then. I cared about good grades and being popular. Why?”

Winter Formal.

I keep a giant, expandable folder of notes, journal entries, cards, ticket stubs, and all things that might jog my memory as I attempt to write this book. Over the next few weeks, my assignment is to write and organize all of my “Adam” information—my first love. I can hear the singing from the angels already…Err, anyway. Many of my readers don’t know who Adam is yet, but you will. Below are some notes I wrote in September of 2008, specifically for my book. I don’t know if it will make the cut yet, but we will see!

*     *     *

My first impression of him was that he was a typical, good kid. Adam lived on California Street—the street my family had lived on years ago. But his family lived on the nice end of the street. His house was like a museum—quiet, clean and crisp. Everything was white. Their dining table was a giant slice from the middle of a tree and their fireplace was off-center.

Adam and I’s friendship started off casual, but we grew close very quickly. I told him about the guys I liked at school and we talked on the phone nearly every night.

During the first half of our friendship, I was going on dates with different guys at our school, but also had a crush on Adam and I’s friend Wil. I confided in Adam and merely saw him as just another one of my close guy friends.

My junior year, Adam, Wil and I all worked at the same place—Outback Steakhouse. The guys were busboys and I was a hostess. Much like two girls, Adam and Wil gossiped about everything: each other, girls, coworkers, the works. By the middle of my junior year, I was fresh out of a breakup. Our high school’s Winter Formal was approaching, and as usual, I didn’t have a date.

Not long before the dance, Adam and I decided we would go together. Our friends were a little surprised. Adam and I had spent the entire year before swearing up and down that we were just friends, and here we were going to a school dance together.

As parents always say, “What’s the big deal? You can go to a dance together as friends!” Which is true, but in high school, everything is a big deal.

We made plans to meet up and eat dinner with our friends beforehand. When Adam picked me up, my corsage was so pretty. Since I’d told him my dress was coral, his mom had helped him pick a suiting corsage—a small bunch of three white rosebuds, white with silver trimmings. We met up with Wil and his date, along with a few of our other Outback coworkers. The dance was fun, like most were, and I remember being surprised when slow-dancing with Adam wasn’t as awkward as I had expected.

After the dance, we drove to Outback to find our coworkers just closing up and cleaning the kitchen. They let us inside, still wearing our formal attire, and lead us into the kitchen. We pulled up our dresses to avoid the sludge of the kitchen floor. The chef treated us to dessert: cheesecake. It felt exclusive to be in the restaurant after-hours, sitting in one of the wooden booths, eating a free dessert. After dessert, all of us ventured to Columbus’ own hot spot—Adam’s hot tub. This particular hot tub, in Adam’s backyard, was rumored to house the germs of many ladies. All ladies who were not Adam’s—but those of his friend’s.

Even after the fun, and somewhat romantic night, I stood by my strong feelings for Adam as a friend; one of my best friends.

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