Back in September I started writing about how P and I met and starting hanging out but it has been a while since I’ve picked up the thread of the story, so I figured it might be a nice way to return from the mini Thanksgiving hiatus.
After the famous “pretty woman” comment, where we stood (friends, more than friends?) was a bit ambiguous. We continued to study together, go to movies, eat at the cafeteria with groups of friends, but a lot went unsaid. I would later learn that in a lot of ways P isn’t very vocal about things, particularly feelings. Where I often talk too much, he often speaks too little.
Meanwhile, P was pretty popular amongst many of the girls in I-House. He is a very friendly guy, caring and chivalrous; he would do absolutely anything for a friend (even to this day). There was a while where I wasn’t sure if I was imagining his interest in me or if it was real, maybe he was just super friendly to everyone? But I knew I was interested.
What would be a story without a bit of drama? Besides my insecurities about what was actually happening between us, the other major issue was that I was dating someone else.
My high school sweetheart (HSS) went to the same university and also lived in the International House. We began drifting apart awhile before the school year had started, but I had trouble acknowledging this, and felt very loyal to this previous (and my first) long serious relationship. It wasn’t until I met P and became close friends, that I was able to start realizing that the other relationship wasn’t working out, and it took some time to decide what to do. I was realistic though… I was young, and I knew that if I felt something for P, I didn’t want to live life not knowing what could have happened if I didn’t give it a try.
It took a little while to finally break it off with HSS. I remember right after the “pretty woman” incident I was having tea with him and another friend outside the campus bookstore and I mentioned to him the conversation that I had with P the night before. The friend made the typical “ooohhh, scandalous” type of comment, while HSS said something to the effect of, “C has a lot of male friends. I’m not worried.”
Over the next few weeks I tried to mention to HSS that I enjoyed spending time with P, and that I might be falling for him. I tried to be honest, and I tried to spark a discussion, but I think HSS was in a bit of denial. He kept brushing off my comments. “P is just a friend, nothing wrong with that…”, “P is a nice guy, you have lots of nice guy friends, what is the difference?” At the same time I wasn’t even sure if I was imagining P’s interest, and I was worried I was trying to break off this other important relationship in my life for something that didn’t exist.
Finally there was a brief school break. HSS when back to our hometown, P went on a trip to Canada with other international students, and I stayed on campus to work. I found myself hoping that HSS would stay home a little longer and P would come back a little sooner, and that’s when I knew I had to make my move.
When HSS came back to school we sat down and finally had “the talk.” Yeah, I might have had a lot of “guy” friends, but this was different. I had to have time to explore. I couldn’t live my whole life not allowing myself the opportunity to know what else was out there.
I felt like a huge jerk. I knew I was breaking the heart of one of the most important people in my life, but I felt like I had to do it, I couldn’t keep up the false pretenses. We kept the breakup private… but when you live in a close-knit dormitory like the I-House, rumors and gossip constantly fly.
The trouble was… HSS had lived there a year before I, and was friends with a lot of the other people there, particularly a group of South Asians, including P’s high school friend AC, as well as a very outspoken Pakistani guy (PG). They didn’t really know what was going on, or that HSS and I had ended our relationship, but they knew I was his girlfriend from high school and they saw me hanging out with P a lot… and they didn’t like it (I mean, AC already told P that I was “weird” and “not to bother” with me).
I used to hear all sorts of things, particularly from AC and PG. They were mean in a sly, under-the-table, passive-agressive kind of way. They would make loud comments about “honesty” and “loyalty,” and other stuff like that, they would try to keep P away, and they would say nasty things behind my back. I was definitely cast as the “bad guy.”
HSS was a better person than I probably would have been if the roles had been reversed. He was adamant that we continue to be friends, and he stuck up for me when the others wanted to have a complaining session. We would still have lunch in the cafeteria, which probably only served to confuse the people around us even more.
Anyway, one night I decided I was going to find out if P was serious… I was determined to find out what he was thinking. It was about 11 o’clock at night and I went to his dorm room to chat. He had mentioned that he had to go to the library to return a book (PG was working the circulation desk). It was raining… and I offered to accompany him to the library across campus. As we walked I tried to muster up the courage to just lay it all out on the table, but by the time we reached the library doors I hadn’t really said anything.
We went inside and P gave PG the book. The South Asian guys often ordered chicken wings from a local place for late night snacks, and PG was asking P if he wanted “in” that night. P said sure, and PG told him that he got off his shift around midnight or 1 am, and the chicken wings would come to the I-House around then.
We left the library and P started walking back towards the dorm, but I told him “No… I have something to tell you, and we can’t go back until I say it” so we started walking around the campus in the middle of the night in the pouring rain.
We spent the entire night out there. In true high context fashion, nothing direct was really said, and the two of us skirted around what we actually wanted to talk about. However, I think we both understood, and by the end of the night I realized that it was a done deal, we were going to try this thing out.
We returned to the International House close to sunrise, and I was happy. But P had been missing for the chicken wings… and then it was discovered I was missing too, and the last person to see us (together!) was PG who was already not satisfied with the situation… so we only added more fuel to their “scandalous” fire.
I didn’t care though. I was really happy. I am still really happy. So too bad for the people who wanted to make it difficult in the beginning!