Because so many people felt that I left you all hanging with this post, I jumped forward a couple years to show how that friendship deepened. You know, once I knew it wasn’t going to be romantic.
Even though I have spent my life surrounded by testosterone, he was the only one who ever offered to walk me home.
He said it was so he could use a smoke, but that was partially bullshit because everyone just smoked in the dorms rather than go all the way outside. I knew he worried about me. I knew he wanted to be courteous. I knew he saw me as a girl who wasn’t as tough as she acted.
We always ended up on the steps of Harrison where I would sit on the top concrete step and he would lean on the black metal railing, smoking one last dog before I went in and he went home.
Our conversations wandered and rambled. He was the only one I talked seriously to about my feelings of inadequacy and doubt. He was the only one who talked openly to me about his fears and struggles. One evening he would listen as I talked about feeling unworthy of a committed relationship and the next He would open up about his inability to love college and his lack of motivation in choosing a career.
He more than sort of had a girlfriend. In fact many times we talked about how much he missed her by being at a different college, but how he wasn’t sure if a lifetime commitment was the answer either.
He never said much about his parents’ divorce, but I knew it bothered him that people so in love for so long could just…not be anymore. He was afraid it would happen to him.
It never occurred to me to use those conversations to insinuate myself. That wasn’t what it was about. But almost every time I asked him the same thing: Why did he feel like he needed to walk me the short distance from their dorm to mine?
And he always told me, “because it’s the right thing to do. It’s what a gentleman does. Those other guys are dicks for not ever offering.”
His answer was genuine. Neither of us was angling for anything more than just friendship…for someone to trust and have each other’s back.
And that is what we got. Each other’s back.
It would be another seven years before we were married.
Do you need more?