I laughed easily at his jest, felt his eyes engulf me when we were together, sat steeped in delight on his motorcycle with my arms around him. My body blazed when he was near, not to mention when he touched me. Inhibitions melted. I felt known. My eyes, heart and soul looked only in his direction. I was certain he could see this, feel this, would come to trust my love enough to know I would not betray him; would believe he could give himself to me fully without fear.
He lived in a nearby dorm while he completed the last few credits needed for graduation. We traveled between his room and mine, doing the roommate dance that had become so familiar the year before – but now I was a fully participating member. What I didn’t know was that mine was not the only warm body that visited his bed. We spent every minute we were both free together. My free time seemed more plentiful than his. I waited for the phone to ring, my stomach twisting into knots when the expected call was delayed or did not arrive at all. Sometimes I made the call, but rarely got an answer. But I was not about to let anything interfere with my fairytale of falling in love, or of being loved. I had learned to do what needed to be done without question for most of my life; a message entwined so deeply in my subconscious that my rational brain could not uproot it. Instead I used that rational brain to support my conviction that there must be a perfectly ordinary reason for his absence. But odd feelings captured my attention at strange times – a group of young women looking my way and gesturing in my direction, entire weekends when for some unknown reason we were unable to get together, sightings of his motorcycle in unexpected areas. I skillfully endured and suppressed unacceptable emotions, had taken lessons from a master of keeping the peace for as long as I could remember. But I did not remember; did not notice the behaviors I had vehemently rejected as weak and degrading reflected in my own. It was easier to construct a neat nest of beliefs from the twigs of my own desires.
He graduated in December, then continued his association with the university by taking a job there. He moved into a tiny basement apartment nearby. I helped furnish it with refurbished second hand finds, using skills I had learned from watching my mother’s hands. Now we had a place to land with no need to consult roommates. I was certain his step into the working, apartment dwelling world would provide an avenue for our relationship to branch in new directions, to become more solidly rooted in the new soil of adulthood. I hoped we could flourish there together.