So, why did I go to see him that day? The answer to this question seems obvious to me, but at the same time I am aware that anyone without an intimate knowledge of my life at the time, my effort to visit him that day must seem odd.
The school I’d been attending for the two and a half years prior to that moment had approximately eight hundred students on a campus isolated in a rural area. I know some people who have turned inwards when they encountered social problems at school. They threw themselves into their work and excelled. I couldn’t do that for some reason. I was falling apart. I wanted, indeed needed, a friend. That I found this particular man physically desirable was a secondary interest to me. I rarely have lacked for lovers. I have on occasion lacked friends.
The school I was attending had an unusually long winter break, ostensibly to allow time for independent research projects or internships. My first year there, I tried to arrange one only to find that no professor wanted the extra work. Almost no one else did one either. My sister’s school was back in session, and I decided to go visit her as part of my attempts to strengthen connections to people beyond my own little school. The man I had met on New Years Eve was attending a school that was accessible by commuter train not far from the school my sister was attending. In fact, on several occasion I had gone with her and some of her friends to that neighborhood for some of the nightlife there. The school was the top school in the country for the subject he was studying and had an additional appeal for him as well – the school was a Catholic university.
While I was visiting my sister towards the end of January, I phoned and asked if I could visit. He said, “Yes.” However, when I arrived, I wondered if he had meant that yes. A couple of other friends were visiting and at times I had the distinct impression of being the third wheel, although there were four of us. At this remove, I can no longer recall details of the conversation, but I do recall having the uncomfortable feeling of receiving mixed messages as to whether or not I was wanted there and whether I should stay or go. It was awkward. Yet, at the same time, it seemed to be presumed I would be spending the night.
At one point in the evening, the man said that he wanted to stop by the store located on campus to pick up a pack of cigarettes. When we got there, there was a line and one of his friends offered to give him some cigarettes from his own pack. “Thanks,” the man said, “but I want to get something else as well.” When we finally found ourselves at the counter, in addition to the cigarettes he asked for condoms. The clerk behind the counter replied that they didn’t sell them.
The rooms of the dormitory were arranged in suites, with several rooms surrounding a common area. The man let his friends have his bed and we took some blankets and made an improvised bed on the floor of the common area. Alone, the awkwardness went away and I enjoyed his company again. We agreed that we would not have intercourse since we had been unable to buy condoms. Since I had enjoyed fondling him at the party so much, it seemed possible. In retrospect, it was an amazingly naive idea. Alone with a modicum of privacy and everyone else asleep, we did not stop at fondling.
The following day, the four of us went to an art museum. At first, when they discussed going, I assumed that they would go without me and I would return to my sister’s. Then he specifically invited me. Yet, while I was with them, that feeling of awkwardness returned.
On the way back to my sister’s, I couldn’t figure out if seeing him again had been a good idea or not, nor could I figure out if he was interested in me. It didn’t weigh on my mind too much. I concluded simply that, having extended myself once, that I wouldn’t do it again and wait and see if he contacted me.