North Hall to the left. Myers Hall on my right.
His name was Chris. He was from Georgia.
I guess all of my roommates were in my dorm room that night because he and I ended up talking in the backseat of his uncle’s van parked right off the corner of 33rd and Race streets. It was Saturday night, Drexel’s campus was buzzing with kids drunk from the SAE house. They kept walking past us. We could see them but they couldn’t see us.
Chris was upset. He had moved up from Georgia to Philadelphia to get away from the slow pace of the South and maybe some demons he left in his closet. He was cleaning offices for extra money but no other jobs could stick. One night he had a job, next night he didn’t. He felt like wasted space.
His uncle got on his case. Chris wanted to go back to Georgia but he didn’t know what awaited him there. He just wanted to get away.
He felt less than a man. He felt like he had nothing.
But he had my shoulder. Next thing I know his head rests on my shoulder and I feel something seep through my Drexel hoodie.
Everything became too much. But in this moment, I became a safe space.
Never did I imagine that something like that would ever happen. I was 19 going on 20. Boys were still a blur. I met someone in college but it didn’t work out, per usual. I started dating drug dealers. I wasn’t from the street, they said. That’s what made me stand out.
Chris was so sweet, so Southern. His deep Southern accent used to take me under. He loved to hug me. He told me that he wanted me to be his girl.
After the last tears fell, he wanted to get away. So we drove around the city for a hour. Southwest Philly to the parkway to Front St to Hunting Park and back to Drexel’s campus. Old City blurred with music and club goers. I tried to get the radio to work but no dice. When I heard Intro’s “Come Inside” through the static, I gasped. It was one of my favorite songs.
Maybe he was the one to be “the one”.
When we got back to my dorm, he asked me if I wanted to come to a BBQ his uncle was having at their house. I froze. I felt like I was meeting family. Isn’t that what couples do? We’re not a couple, I thought. He’s taking things super serious, right?
All of these thoughts ran through my mind but I couldn’t communicate them. Because I knew I would break his heart.
What he didn’t know was that I had a crush. A crush that was in Philly, who was only a short trolley ride away from me. He was the reason why I even went to Drexel in the first place. I never told my Dad that fact.
I saw my crush the next night. He was as cold and confusing as always but I couldn’t let him go. You get caught up in fantasy. You get caught up in the idea that if this person will have you, you win. Self-confidence so shot that even when this person couldn’t be honest, couldn’t tell you that he was in a committed relationship with someone that you were good friends with, you wouldn’t budge.
Because you were that stupid in love.
So you tell Chris no. And he gets visibly upset. Then you tell him that you can’t be his girl. And he lays in the bed next to you, his back turned towards you, arms folded in disagreement. You try to get him to talk to you and he doesn’t.
He leaves and you never hear from him again.
And you never get your crush.
And you wonder what would have happened if you just let it all go. If you said what was on your heart. If you, in the backseat, accepted the gift that was just given to you. Instead of accepting the coldness that took six years to get rid of.
Wear your heart on your sleeve for once.
This is part of my attempt to write every day in July. You can follow the series here.