It was raining outside as I stepped out of the dorm room. I wasn’t a college student yet, just a visitor. But it felt fun to play this role for the week I was visiting my high school best friend at her Florida college. We were going to meet a group of guys and play in the rain. I think the consented game was football. I’m always game for a raucous adventure and the rain has always been a favorite of mine, so it seemed like the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Green eyes framed by dripping wet perfect ringlet curls looked at me as I stepped out of the door into the drizzle. This small statured young man caught my attention as the group of girls converged with the group of guys headed to an empty field for what was sure to be a messy time. His smile and attention was obvious, but I was only there for a week of fun. So I focused on the task at hand, which was football. The rain mixed with dirt felt soothing on my freshly sunburned legs from the beach day earlier that week. We all laughed and ran through mud. And I found out his name. Craig.
A friend grabbed my camera and snapped a picture of our muddied and smiling group. In the picture, you can see he’s smitten and I’m beaming.
After flying across the world, adjusting to a new time zone, checking into my dorm and attending orientation for the wierdos who started college in January, I sought out my high school best friend. This had been the college I wanted to attend since I was 14 and just because my best friend had made it her’s first did not deter me. She graciously shared the place she called her intellectual home and gave me a tour.
On our trek around campus we stopped at the gym. Inside the noisy building I spied familiar bouncing curls dribbling athletically down the court and taking a shot. He spied my friend and came over. “Oh, are you visiting again.” “No.” I said, “I go here now.”
We met to play checkers in the campus café. Instead of playing the game, we spent the evening trying to contort our faces into the silliest expressions. We were laughing, flirting and memorizing every inch of the other’s face without ever touching. It was the innocent sweetness that comes with first getting to know one another. The smiling eyes, flushed cheeks and excitement of the introduction to another soul.
We just had to read the book. Our lives were missing out on a vital cultural phenomenon. That’s what she told us as we settled into the common room loveseats we had pushed together to make our “couch cocoon.” And page-by-page, we began to read out loud the very first Harry Potter book with Craig, myself and Karen snuggled up. At the chapters end we switched the reader. Hours and hours we spent on those couches reading book after book. Craig ended up doing the best Dobby voice and he was always passed the book when Dobby had something to say. He and I sat next to one another as we read. The light brush of our hands sent chills through my body. Just being besides someone felt electric and tantalizing. There was such electricity in the air as we sat and read.
Valentine’s day on my first semester in college came with an unexpected surprise. Waiting in my mailbox was a small gift that spoke, “I am known.” It was the largest bottle of Hidden Valley ranch I had ever seen, accompanied by a card with two dogs on the front that read, “I like you so much, I’m surprised my tail doesn’t go flying off my butt.” Signed, Craig. This platonic gift and card looked ridiculous to everyone else in the mailroom, but to me it looked like an invitation to pursue something more.
Stay tuned for more of the story!
p.s. photo by Emily Rose Portraits and she has great pricing for everyone starting at just $100.