Most people don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. This is very true. Just think to yourself right now, do you really know what you want to do with the rest of your life? You’re probably thinking “I have no idea, that’s so long away!” You also probably don’t know who you’re going to fall in love with; you probably don’t know who you’ll spend the rest of your life with. Now you’re probably guessing that’s how it was for me too. But, not really.
I grew up in a very close-knit family. I lived with my older brothers Michael and Jeremy, and my older sister Kaitlyn. It was the tiny city of Amberg, Wisconsin where it all had started for me. My mom and dad were both born in larger cities, but they loved the country, homey, feeling of the northern woods of Wisconsin, so they decided to start a family there. First came Michael, then Kaitlyn, Jeremy, and me. When my mom and dad were young and in love in high school, they both decided they would open a restaurant. Sure enough, only a few years after they both got out of college, they scavenged enough money up to build up a little restaurant called Klein’s, named after our last name. As a little kid I once asked my mom why we didn’t have a name like “Taco Bell” or “Apple Bee’s” and she told me that she wanted our family to be remembered and make an impact on our small community. I didn’t really get what that meant so I just shrugged my shoulders and said okay. So it was Klein’s, my family’s little restaurant that changed my life.
It was June, school just let out and I felt like this was just going to like any other summer. I’d wake up, come here, sometimes go out to the lake with my friends, come back here, and somehow I would find myself having long conversations with the customers who came in only to get a cup of coffee or a quick meal before passing through to get somewhere else. I always felt a little bad for keeping them there but they would just smile and wave their hand saying, “Oh, no problem! You have a nice night.” At that point I would look out the window and see it was dark. It was clear that I spent the majority of my time at the restaurant. “You know Julia, the people who come in here tell me you are a great person and they love talking to you,” my mom told me that night, as we were sitting at a booth after we closed.
“I don’t even realize how long I’m talking to them sometimes,” I replied smiling down at my cup of hot chocolate.
“Well keep it up, you never know if you’ll really make someone’s day.”
I liked the feeling of making people feel good. That’s when I realized that I really loved Klein’s. Besides the fact that it was part of my name, it was really a part of me. I was seventeen that summer and I knew I wanted to be there for the rest of my life.
The time when working at the restaurant really changed my life was in the middle of July the same summer I was 17. All my siblings were in college, but they were home for the summer and working at the restaurant. It was a hot afternoon, one of those days where it’s all sun in the sky and no clouds; the place wasn’t busy at all. I was the only one at there at the time. Michael, Jeremy, and Kaitlyn were out visiting old friends and my parents were running errands. I was sitting at the counter flipping through a magazine when the door opened and I heard the bell ring, indicating someone walking in and out. “Hi, welcome to Klein’s, how are…” I looked up but I couldn’t finish my sentence. My eyes lay on a boy, probably around my age, who made my legs shake like an earthquake. I didn’t get nervous a lot, but I felt like I was in the presence of an angel. He had light brown hair, that was messy but somehow looked like it was like that all the time. He had tan skin and eyes of a rich hazel color and he had a cute smirk on his face. I finally realized I was staring at him, and I shook myself out of it and cleared my throat. “Um, sorry, hi. Welcome to Klein’s, how are you?”
“I’m great, I could use a nice glass of water though. How are you?” he responded, looking at my hands. I followed his eyes to my hands, which were fidgeting. I quickly stopped them and folding my hands tightly, then I gave out an embarrassed little laugh. All I could think was, Why was this happening? I never get nervous around guys. This is so weird! All he did was stand there and smile. It wasn’t like a mocking, “this is really funny cause I’m making you nervous cause you think I’m cute” smile, it was like a nice… smile. I tried to snap out of it and try to have a normal conversation with him. “I’m… pretty good, thanks. It’s hot out today, just trying to stay cool inside,” I replied. The way he looked at me was unbearable, and very attractive. “Yeah no kidding, I’m from Wausaukee and when it’s hot there in the summer, man is it hot,” he said. There was something about him that after everything he said I just wanted him to keep talking.
“I know what you mean,” was all I could get out.
“So…I’m kind of in a rush I was out at the lake and I was looking for a nice cool glass of water, I heard this is a good place for it.” He smiled nicely. It was a little weird sounding but I went along with it. I got the pitcher of water from the back and got a big plastic cup and poured the water in.
“Alright, well here ya go. And since you’re in a rush you can keep the cup, we have plenty more,” I said, handing him the cup and trying to put a little laugh in to make myself sound less weird.
“Well, thank you very much…” he stopped and I kind of looked at him funny then replied quickly, “oh, Julia, my name’s Julia…if that’s what you meant…and if you didn’t I sound really dumb right now.” I tried not to blush. All he did was smile and hold out his hand saying, “Julia…well I’m Wesley.”
“Nice to meet you Wesley,” I replied, smiling big and relieved that I didn’t make a complete fool of myself.
“Nice to meet you too. Well I gotta get going, I’ll see ya around Julia. Thanks for the water.”
“No problem,” I said, “see ya.” He flashed that smile again, and once he turned around and walked out all I could do was stand there and take in what just happened. There was something about him, I didn’t know what. But I liked it a lot. His face kept replaying in my mind, and every time it did I couldn’t help but smile.
The next day came, and the day after that, and the day after that…and more days to follow. Everyday after our first encounter, Wesley came back to Klein’s. He would walk in, somehow I sensed when it was him at the door, I’d look over and he’d smile. After a few days he started to wave, and after a few days of taking all of his orders, he would just walk in and sit at the counter, with his chin on his fists, waiting for me to come over. He would end up staying there with me for the whole day, waiting for me to get done with working and then, late at night, we would get in his pick-up and we’d go out to Long Lake, and sit on the beach together. I got over my weird stage quickly; he lightened it up with his jokes and stories. Most of the time I would just sit there next to him, and listen to his soothing voice, I still felt like I was in the presence of an angel.
It was clear that Wesley and I liked each other. Even my family caught on. He was invited to our house a lot for dinner, my parents loved him and my siblings approved. Summer was coming to an end; we both would be starting our senior years at different high schools at different towns. In only a few months, I realized I really was in love. Working at the restaurant truly changed my life. I would have never met Wesley, and I would never be where I am right now without him.
I’m now 30 years old, and just as I said I would when I was younger, I took over Klein’s and am still working there today. I’ve had the best memories, and every time I walk into the restaurant, I remember that hot, mid-summer July day. The best part about working at Klein’s as an adult right now, happily married and in love, is that I can look over every day and still see Wesley smiling.