By Stephanie Novak
The first time I saw her, I knew I wanted her. Her short, shaggy blond hair fell lightly over her eyes, which were downcast and focused on her guitar. I was at One World Coffee with a few of my friends, but that fact quickly became irrelevant when she took the stage with her soft, smoky voice and the haunting notes of her guitar.
So I did what I always do. I pursued her. It wasn’t all that hard. At the end of her set, she revealed her name. Lynn Casey. I didn’t talk to her afterward. The first rule of any successful conquest is to learn about the person. So I did. I went to a few of her shows. I even ran into her purely by accident at Whole Foods. Not everyone can pull off a Whole Foods uniform like she could.
At her next show, I approached her. She had opened for another band, and it was just her on a dark stage, the shadows surrounding her form. The place was a dive, and the noise of the bar was louder than her music, which annoyed me. It always does. It’s amazing how people don’t appreciate art the way they should. People get so wrapped up in the everyday, in their shitty jobs, in their problems, in their immediate desires that they completely forget about the little stuff. About the art that makes the world a better place. Sometimes it sucks being a writer because I don’t know that my work will ever really be appreciated.
Lynn was on fire, as usual. She stood proud on the stage and played to those of us who were listening. I was quickly lost once again in her rhythms. I felt myself slipping away, replaced by the pure feeling of falling into the music. All I could feel were the precise strokes of her guitar, the notes; I was the music. It almost hurt when she finished.
She finished and started to carry her equipment offstage—which consisted of a guitar and a small amp. I fell into step with her.
“Can I help you?”
She looked over, met my eyes, and stopped in surprise. “No, but thanks.”
“You sure? I could carry something for you.”
“I really don’t have all that much. Thanks though.” She shifted the bag resting on her shoulders and looked ready to go.
“Well, can I walk with you?”
She hesitated, shrugged and then nodded.
I kept up with her, enjoying the feeling of her presence. She didn’t say anything, so finally I told her I enjoyed her music.
She gave a short answer in return. It was quickly apparent that her gift for lyrics and performance didn’t translate into conversational abilities.
“I’ve seen you before,” I told her. We were outside of the venue. The weather was still warm enough to walk comfortably outside in T-shirts, even though it was eleven at night. Summer had its advantages.
“Have you really?” Lynn asked. She unlocked her truck, a durable looking white Ford, and pressed a lever. The front seat came forward and she put her guitar behind it. “Have you been stalking me?” She pushed the seat back and turned to look at me. “Come to think of it, I think I have seen you before.”
“I’ve happened to be at a few of your shows. You’re a great musician.”
“I think I’ve seen you somewhere else though.” She leaned back against her truck and crossed her arms. She looked at me and then said, “I know! I ran into you at my work. You are stalking me.”
“I’m not, really.” I answered, smiling. “How does shopping at Whole Foods make me a stalker?”
“Fine,” she answered. She slammed her truck door shut, and asked, “Well. You want a beer?”
Who was I to say no to the offer? We went back into the bar. Lynn ordered beers for both of us. She handed me a bottle of Landshark, and then took a swig of her own.
“So how long have you been playing?” I put my beer down on the counter and focused on her. Her shaggy blond hair was in disarray, and she looked a little weary, like it had been a long day. Her black Blondie T-shirt had seen better days, as had her jeans. Both were well worn.
She ran a hand through her untamed hair as if she knew I’d noticed and shrugged again. “A long time.”
“Oh come on, how long?” I encouraged.
“I got my first guitar when I was 18.” She finally answered. She looked into the distance of the dusky venue and said, “So you never did tell me what your name is, stranger.”
I couldn’t help from grinning wickedly. “Oh, didn’t I? It must have slipped my mind.” I took the beer and took a drink. Landshark is one of the only beers I drink. It’s smooth and goes down easily. The liquid ran down my throat, the bottle was cold against my palm.
“There’s a common saying that you shouldn’t trust a person who doesn’t tell you her name.” Lynn answered. She wasn’t giving up. I liked that.
“Is that so?” I bit my lip and then responded, “Well, what makes my name important? Why would you want to know it?”
She took another drink of her beer and looked away, again. She shrugged. She seemed uncomfortable. Finally, she managed to mumble, “I like knowing who I’m talking to.”
It wasn’t the best response I could have hoped for. Lynn was definitely not very good at flirting. But that was cute. Endearing, even.
“I’m Emily. I’m also you’re biggest fan.”
“Ha, you mean stalker.” Her eyes met mine again, a small twinkle in them. She appraised my clothes—a white, sleeveless T-shirt with gray-blue jeans that fit just right—and then continued, “Anyway, you’d have a long way to go if you really wanna be my biggest fan. Because I’ve got bigger.”
“Right.” I answered.
We fell into silence, one that was somehow both awkward and comfortable at the same time.
“This band sucks.” Lynn finally said. “I can’t believe I opened for them. I wouldn’t let them open for me.”
I looked at the stage. The three band members looked ill at ease with their instruments, the singer’s voice was mumbled, and words were getting lost in translation.
“They are pretty bad,” I agreed. I looked at her. “Wanna get outta here?”
She shrugged. “Sure. Where do you want to go?”
We ended up sitting outside on the patio of One World Coffee, where I had first seen Lynn Casey. As we sat there and discussed activism, music and the qualities of good coffee, I knew I had her. Her eyes were intent on learning more about me and I couldn’t help noticing how often her head bowed as if embarrassed by the attention I showed her. I grinned. I’d done it.
Of course, reaching a goal is not an end—after all, you never know what will happen once you’ve gotten there. But I looked forward to our road.