A few weeks later, my friend who lived across the hall from me told me about this guy in her Freshman English class who was baking for the class. The class was entitled Feminist Lit, and he had decided to bake for them to show that a guy can actually be comfortable with a traditional female role.
Yes, the guy was Garbanzo.
What I later discovered was that Garbanzo had a thing for my friend. She was engaged or some such nonsense, so his chances were nil. He decided to escort us to the Homecoming Dance. Escort her was more the accurate statement – I was the third wheel. We said a few words together, danced, and that was about it. He was being polite, and I was being tolerant of this guy who clearly had the hots for my friend. Whatever.
A short time later, he and I ended up in one of those odd, late night talks in one of the common areas of the dorms. I had somehow earlier that night got dragged into helping him get ready for a date he had with a woman who ended up marrying his best friend years later. He was making sushi for her and was over his head. The person who dragged me to help did so to show her undying devotion and love for him. I was starting to feel like a means to an end with people – first him, now her. When the date went downhill, I ran into him later in the common kitchen. We started talking – and it ended up being one of those all night talking things. It was nice, and I liked him.
What blew me away by him as we talked was his passion about things. His devotion to his friends, his love of literature, and his goal to teach just like Mr Bailey. I walked away going “wow!” And, he listened to me. Not the sort of “I want in your pants” pretend listening, but the truly interested kind.
The friendship we started that night was great. We started hanging out more and more. I went to his Shakespeare play he was in. We went to campus events together. We would go for walks around campus late at night just talking.
And, we both sort of hit that place where we knew we should be dating – even though neither of us talked about it. One problem – I had a “boyfriend”. I use the term loosely really. I was officially dating someone who was more boy than man in his approach to things. That was becoming painfully clear as a few months passed. I had decided it was over.
The night before Thanksgiving break, Garbanzo and I had gone to a concert being held at the college. I was exhausted from a final; he left early so I wouldn’t have to walk back to the dorm alone in the dark. It was cold outside. He put his arm around me in an attempt to keep me warm. When we got into my room, I had left the lights off as my plan was to go right to bed. He paused, gave me a hug, and whispered “I need to leave before I do something that you may not be happy with me for doing.” We said our goodbyes, and he left.
And I went home and broke up with the boyfriend.
The night I returned from Thanksgiving break, I had to work the glamorous work study job that was food service – and even more glamorous “break down” (dishes). I got back to the dorm and showered. I had heard from my roommate that Garbanzo had been looking for me. I heard from my friend across the hall that Garbanzo had been looking for me. I heard from the RA that Garbanzo had been looking for me. After I got dressed in clean clothes, I went out to look for him since he so desperately was looking for me.
I found him walking down to my room again.
We went for a walk. There is this HUGE playground at the elementary school next to campus. The college kids played midnight tag on it. An especially fun game after you’ve been drinking a bit. We had ended up there. The walk was a bit awkward – some conversation about how Thanksgiving went, etc. He had ended up in the middle of a snowstorm, and he was thrilled. I gave him a quick rundown of my break and ended it with a small comment about breaking up with that guy I had been dating.
Garbanzo’s reaction was interesting. You could tell he was struggling between being the “concerned friend” and celebrating his luck. We were climbing around the various part of the play structure. And, standing on the tire pile, when we paused in our climbing and kissed.
We both smiled at each other afterward. We had both wanted this to happen. I told him that I had broken up with the guy because Garbanzo was the kind of guy I wanted to date. One who cared about me, made me laugh, had passion for things, and knew who I really was.
We kissed some more, at the elementary school near our campus, late at night, in snow.
When we decided we were cold enough, we walked back up the hill to campus and our dorm. It’s funny because a few people figured out almost immediately we were dating – figured it out before we even said anything.
Then there were those (remember that girl who was trying to show her undying devotion to Garbanzo), there were those who didn’t figure it out until we kissed in front of them and had an “oh shit” moment.
It was the beginning of the end, if you will, for us. And for our respective roommates, it was the beginning of them getting sick of getting locked out of the dorm room because we were having sex (again!). But, that’s a different story.
Eighteen years later, as I watch the college kids at the nearby private university move into their dorms, I cannot help but think about Garbanzo, how we found each other, and all the fun that started that year. But, I also can’t help but think about that kiss – that kiss I get still to this day.