Autumn is the hardest season

Amanda Oliver
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readSep 10, 2017

I moved to Washington, DC on June 1, 2011. A day later I started working at a restaurant where I worked every single day of that first summer. I made my first two DC friends there: Anna and Sam.

Anna was younger than me by several years and a student at American University. She was studying graphic design and her lettering skills decorated the specials boards that whole summer. She had the thickest curly brown hair and a man she was in love with in Italy. She had the kind of laugh that was always a giggle and brought an entire room to her attention. I loved her immediately.

Sam was tall and handsome and funny. His sense of humor was the kind sprung on you, as he was generally quiet — he’d assign us closing jobs like folding napkins and sweeping and, then, at the very bottom, ten push-ups for one of us and thirty jumping jacks for another. He made shifts playful. At the end of the night, over a beer at the restaurant’s bar, he would listen to you completely, body turned, direct eye contact. He was six-foot-four and helped me lift the glass racks off the shelves in the kitchen because I could never reach. He was kind and thoughtful.

I wanted to kiss him. More than anything that summer, I wanted to kiss him.

Sam had a girlfriend. She was a medical student at Georgetown with long wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. She was fit and loved hiking and hockey. She did not like when Sam partied or did drugs and so he never did in her presence. She was Canadian and had lost her father to cancer within the year.

These were the things I knew about her.

I saw her only once, sipping a strawberry daiquiri at the bar, which I laughed about for days afterwards. A strawberry daiquiri!

It was all I had on her.

One night after a shift, Sam and I stayed and had drinks together. Our uniforms were black pants, white button-down shirts, a tie, and a floor-length apron. We’d only ever seen each other like that. There was a tiny closet next to the hostess station where staff could put their things and I went in in my uniform and came out in the black pants and a grey tank-top I’d had on underneath. Sam was sweeping the floors when I opened the door and so I waited for him on a stool, hopeful just to brush his knee with my knee.

Amanda Oliver
Human Parts

Author of OVERDUE: Reckoning with the Public Library • writer, editor, teacher •