One of the first interests I remember was a classmate at Centralia College. Named after a Bible hero, he was one of those handsome and charming types. He was a hunter and shared my love of the outdoors. Once, he brought me a beautiful, orange-red rock he’d found in the woods. He was my friend as we traipsed on science field trips together. Later, I slipped on the wintry ice and he caught me. I was nineteen, on my seventh and final quarter of community college. I was a bit charmed.
We chatted a lot, my classmate and me. I remember sitting atop a table, feet swinging as I asked him questions about himself. He said he liked that his sister cooked for him. I wrinkled my nose mentally when I heard that. I guess his sister was the domestic type. I guess she didn’t go hunting with him. Years later, I ran into him at a grocery store. We didn’t talk for long.
Another was an RA off at university, in charge of checking in with everyone on our floor. He was one of those blonde, attractive types. I loved the look of shock on his face when he asked if he could come into our room, and I told him, “No.” My roommate got a kick out of it and we laughed girlishly after he’d left.
The RA was boyish and set up a tent in his room in the middle of winter because he missed summer. It was odd, seeing such a sparse room, with a tent plunked in the middle of it. He was reckless and skidded down the crazy turns of an asphalt road in the arboretum—sitting on a skateboard. I don’t know if he was a Christian. I never asked.
The third I remember was, perhaps Inuit? We met in dance class off at university. He was from Alaska. I think my suitemate disliked me because of him. The following quarter she loved to hold over my head that she had a boyfriend and I didn’t. She disliked me for who I was. I enjoyed my freedom to go and chat with guys if I felt like it. I enjoyed chatting with him before class, when I was early. But I didn’t enjoy how he stretched languidly, like a panther or a snake, as I talked with him.
The fourth? Fifth one? He was dark. Not how he looked, just what was on the inside. But I could sit with him during church service and insist on stealing a sip of his fancy coffee. I enjoyed having a guy friend I could spend time with. I liked how he laughed when I nailed him with a foam dart at movie evenings. But then he wanted to talk deep things with me when he got a girlfriend. No can do. It wouldn’t have worked anyway. I couldn’t date a guy who held to a skewed sense of creation and thought homeschool was dumb. I couldn’t date a guy who filled my asthmatic lungs with cigar smoke, even if he apologized for it afterward.
The sixth. He was immature, I realize now. I choose to remember the look on his face and what his body language said. I was to be made to see things his way. I balked. It was a clash of strong wills, but without any love. It wouldn’t have worked—this relationship. And besides, he didn’t want to try anymore. You can’t do anything about that. He didn’t like to get his shoes dirty, out there on our walks. He told me that bird’s nests were boring. He wanted to fix me up just the way he wanted me to look. I was not enough.