Attaining a higher education was a goal I once deemed unimportant. But in the fall of 2007 I transferred from a local community college to California State University Channel Islands. It’s a small school – the newest in the CSU system – and relatively close to home. I didn’t have a car at first so just about every weekend my parents would pick me up from my dorm room, bring me home, and then drop me back off on Sunday. We’re talking a drive that can take up to 2 hours in traffic. What sports they were! Though I am not well-suited for dorm room life, as I don’t drink/party/do drugs/etc, I was suited for a campus that was sheltered from the city and, therefore, away from any of that stuff. I had 3 amazing roommates and I was adjusting naturally.
I only ever lived in one dorm room: B329A in Anacapa Village. It was a third floor apartment on a floor inhabited by students 21+. A few nights a week my roommate Allie and I would head down to the commons to watch something on the ginormous tv. We had cable and a tv in our room, but it was small. We were introduced to some other students who lived on our floor and eventually we found ourselves occasionally going to their room to watch tv. There were 4 guys living next door – Luke, Billy, Michael and Jeffrey. At the time I knew Luke the best (though I hardly knew him at all) and was rather shy around the others. Billy was a strange, hobbit-type of fellow and Michael had a girlfriend, so I never even looked at him as anything other than a fellow student. Jeffrey was a bit of a mystery but I wasn’t too interested. I wasn’t terribly fond of the way he dressed and he kind of had a very young looking face. I was 24 going on 25 and was really not looking at boys. They had an enormous tv in their room and an incredible sound system. So it was the place to be.
The following semester, Allie and I were heading towards on room on the third floor when Jeffrey passed us by. He looked different. He had grown a beard since the last time I saw him and he was pushing a bike towards his room. I guess I was in a chipper mood that day, because I remember giving him an excited “hello!” and he looked at me as if I was odd. In retrospect that’s hysterically ironic.
One night in February (2008) Allie introduced us to her new friend, Josh. He was a character who told me I was dressed like a grandma (I was wearing pajamas) and I thought he was gay. He wasn’t and it turns out he was just really…. out there. Even flamboyant. Josh hung out in the dorm next door a lot (by this time, Michael had left and Mat took his place. Mat was a dj who was entirely too good looking and who every girl wanted to get with, ever girl except me). Because of my connection to Allie, hers to Josh, and his to the guys (mostly for their extensive selection of video games and dvds) I wound up gravitating towards this crowd.
That same month Allie and Josh started dating. He came over one night and asked Allie if she wanted to go ghost hunting with him and some people from next door. I invited myself along for the fun and found myself unwittingly paired with Jeff. It was Allie and Josh, Luke and his girlfriend Jenny, and then Jeff and me. He had become much more attractive since growing the beard and as I talked to him I realized he wasn’t like most other people. His intellect was of a much different stripe than the other kids in school.
We never found any ghosts and as we walked back to our rooms I found myself realizing I liked him. He was interesting and that spoke to me a lot. Over the next couple days I found my interest in him growing exponentially. He was definitely weird, no doubt about it. It was like he spoke in a language I didn’t understand and in my confusion I’m sure I looked quite stupid at times. I quickly learned that he was a rather peculiar guy and every one else was in on it as well. If he did something weird everyone just chalked it up to “Jeff being Jeff”. One afternoon the four of us (Josh, Allie, Jeff, me) got lunch from the cafeteria (it bugs me I can’t remember the formal name of it) and brought it back to Jeff’s room. He ate a piece of carrot cake and got cream cheese frosting all over his beard. While this would otherwise freak me out, I found it somewhat endearing. Thank God it wasn’t my first impression of him though.
The four of us had become a pseudo-family and watching Josh and Allie develop as a couple only made it more glaringly obvious that I was really into Jeff and we weren’t together. We were, however, becoming friends and at one point I got up the nerve to tell him how I felt. It was a random night and he accompanied me downstairs to smoke. He didn’t smoke, didn’t approve of me smoking, but was kind enough to keep me company. I told him how I felt and laid it all out on the line. I’m not sure what I was expecting, especially since I had never really done anything like that before. He thanked me and politely informed me that he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend or any similar relationship.
At that point I lost hope. I tried again a few weeks later and got nearly the same response. I just could not help myself. The more I got to know him the more I liked him and no matter how much I asked God to please take away my feelings, they only grew stronger. I’ve always been stubborn and perhaps it was that very trait that made me tell him my feelings again and again. Beyond stubbornness, I also had the very strong feeling that he did, indeed, like me back. It took a long time for me to give up. But I finally did.