In the Beginning…

I had intended to join my father’s branch of the military when I graduated. According to my parents, I did not have grades high enough to bother with college and no guidance counselor bothered to tell me otherwise. I was supposed to pay for everything on my own, and at $2 an hour babysitting, I could not afford the college application fees. I had saved up enough for the SATs but that’s as far as it went. So I planned on taking my 3.6 and 1200 score to the Air Force.

Fortunately a family member saw potential and told me she’d pay for my first year in college as a graduation present. Too late to apply to the school I wanted, I applied for late admission to the school my best friend attended. Meanwhile, I went to the local community college and worked closing at a fast food joint. My stepmom still ruled, so she decided what classes I would take and that I would be out of the house from 8am until 5pm. Even if I had dragged my grease sodden ass home at 3am from work.

When my friend invited me for a football game when I actually had time off, I was thrilled. Not that I liked football, but it was an escape. While we were at the dining hall before the game, we met two friends of hers. The one in uniform struck me. Cocoa skin, sensual lips, dark teasing eyes…and when we left, they followed us even though he was supposed to be on his way to drill nearly two hours away.

When I got home, my friend, Stretch, told me he was asking after me. And kept asking when I would be back. At home, my stepmom was laying down the law. No weekend visits when I went away to college. I would have to get my wall-flower ass out and have a social life. I fully intended to, starting with the guy behind those teasing eyes.

I started the spring quarter that January. I went from my parents having total control over my community college classes to them not even bothering at all. They barely stopped the car to drop my stuff off, or so it felt. The first weekend, Stretch visited my parents to pick some stuff up (remember, I had to be invited) and my stepmother, usually a procrastinator, had packed all my stuff into the closet of my room. Taken out the carpet I had been begging for years to remove, painted the walls and dyed my white Priscilla curtains that I had earned on my own. I knew where I belonged.

That first week we ate dinner at the dining hall with a group of Stretch’s friends. I had a feisty debate with Mr. Dark Eyes and he acted like I annoyed him. No big deal, because during my time away he had acquired a girlfriend. Within the first two weeks though, he had walked in on her fucking a good friend of his doggystyle in the closet. That weekend he spent time pouting and listening to sappy songs. I tried to be there as a friend, he turned to me but I refused any involvement. If he cared for someone else, I was staying back. Now he claims it was all an act to get me close. He had never really cared for her, just gone out with her because she was persistent. Supposedly he was relieved for a reason to break it off with her.

One night we were all supposed to meet for the free campus movie. He never showed. After the movie, Stretch and I were getting ready to go to the clubs, for what would be my first time. MrJJ, Mr. Dark Eyes, called. He asked me to come talk to him. I went to his room and he was doing the same mopey song routine. I told him I would hang out with him until Stretch came to get me, but I needed to go out and have fun. That’s when he told me he had feelings for me. Stretch and I ended up hanging out with MrJJ and his roommate Tetris. Years later, I learned Stretch and Tetris had been fuck buddies the previous semester. They wanted to date but didn’t know how to get past the FB stage they had started with. Of course Stretch never told me, she knew I wouldn’t approve of her cheating on her high school boyfriend. Either be faithful or cut him free I always believed.

After a night of talking and music, MrJJ asked for us to cuddle. We had been hanging out for not quite a month at this point. I climbed up into his loft and we held each other. He began to kiss me. I pulled away, embarrassed. I told him I had never kissed anyone before. I had been too shy up until then. “Don’t worry,” MrJJ said, “I’ll teach you.” We kissed into the dark night, he began touching me, reaching under my bra. Then he led my hand down to his penis, whispering to me how to make a guy feel good with my hand. I didn’t know how to say no and I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

After that, we were considered a couple, even though MrJJ refused the term boyfriend. Our first date at the $1.50 movies ended with him pulling me into the aisle to slow dance to the song during the end credits while he crooned the lyrics to me. I still have the Valentine’s card he gave me, making it clear he was ‘in like’ with me. Soon after, our gang went on a trip to the beach. We spent time walking by the starlit waves, holding hands, making out in the winter cold by the shore.

We played in the dunes, sliding down huge sandy hills with the sunlight on our faces. It was a perfect weekend for me.

When we got back, MrJJ seemed distant. That first day back, I came upon him at the snack center with another girl. I was confused. But I couldn’t say he led me on. He had never claimed exclusivity. A few nights later he called, telling me, “We have to talk.” Expecting the quick breakup, I entered the cold late February evening in nothing but jeans and my favorite sweatshirt. MrJJ wore his full length triple fat (phat?) goose down coat. He asked to walk to the town commons, three blocks away. I don’t remember the whole conversation. Just trying to shield myself from the cold and the pain that I knew was coming.

Instead, in a round about way, he told me that since the beach, his feelings had become clear to him. He had resisted it, but he loved me. Yes, 18 year old romance at it’s best. I couldn’t say the same back, I could barely speak at that point.

I found out later that he had visited the other girl’s dorm with Tetris and both of them had kissed her.

Had I not been love-starved from my parents, had I not been a starry eyed innocent waiting for ‘the one’ I might have noticed that night how self-absorbed MrJJ was. Instead, as I shivered in the cold, I was just happy that “We have to talk” for once meant something good.

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