Circle K was one of only two service fraternities on campus that was actually devoted to service. We had a tiny house, but no one lived there, it was only used for meetings. We were different from Greek fraternities in that the Greeks were about brotherhood (or sisterhood) first and service was somewhere way down the list. Circle K tended to draw genuinely nice people, the kind of people who built you up instead of tearing you down. Even the upperclassmen were nice.
When I went off to college I weighed about 210. For most of the year I fluctuated between 203 and 215. I had Wellness first semester so I learned a lot about good nutrition and fitness. When I was given the stress test my fitness was average. Losing weight was something I always wanted to do. I just couldn't, for whatever reason.
In March of my freshman year I went to a Circle K Conference. I rode with a couple of seniors and Meredith. I had developed a crush on one of the seniors, the driver. His name was Grant. He was a redhead and kind of cute, in an unconventional way. He was loaded with personality. At that point he'd already been recruited by Kidder Peabody, so he was going places. It was agony knowing he'd never even look twice at someone like me. I decided that if I was ever going to get someone like Grant, then I needed to lose weight. And amazingly, that did it.
I spent the rest of the spring on a diet. I even persuaded the girls on my hall to go out walking down DOG (Duke of Gloucester) street every night. I could usually scrounge up a few ladies every night. I liked it when Meredith walked because she set a mean pace. So mean in fact that it nearly gave me shin splints. That's how I started running, because it felt better to my legs than walking at Meredith's pace.
By final exams my pants were bagging off of me. When I got home I'd lost 23 lbs. I continued dieting and exercising all through the summer and continued to lose weight. By the time I went back for sophomore year I'd lost about 50 lbs.
To earn money over the summer I worked for Kelly Services. I was sent to a university, to a poultry plant office, and finally to a printing company. At the printing company I was supposed to work in the mail room. What that actually meant was I was sorting brochures and newsletters for large mailings, tying them and sacking them. It was more like light industrial work.
I made a girlfriend there that I ended up hanging out with a couple of times. And there was one guy there that caught my eye...
He was 6'3" tall and had tattoos all over his arms. His name was Don. He was pretty thin but good looking. He had a killer smile. When we were put to work together in close proximity we'd chat. Most of my co-workers were career printing company workers in their forties and fifties. He was in his twenties. We'd chat about all different things. I started to develop a crush on him.
Some days I was put to work in a different section where they prepared mailings of Bible Study materials. There was a real sweet retired couple that worked that section. I liked them a lot. They'd tell me stuff about the other workers. They told me that Don was ex-Navy (hence the tattoos). They told me that he'd been married and his wife had been killed by a drunk driver while he was in the Mediterranean. He'd left the Navy soon after.
Oh. My. God. So now he was a tragic figure, which added to his allure a hundred-fold. He was flirting with me now. I loved going to work every day. I'd hang on any little hint that he was interested. He was older than me, I was 18 and he was 24, so I thought it wasn't really a possibility, but still, having a crush is great fun. Oh, the thrill of it!
I was to quit for the summer around the second week in August. It was then that he finally asked me out. I was over the moon. A date! A REAL date! Not a friends date, a date date. It's pretty obvious I was a neophyte when it came to dating.
We went on that date. We had a great time together and talked a lot about all the hints we'd been giving each other over the summer that we were interested in each other. We'd developed as friends first so finally getting together seemed pretty natural. We had our first kiss, did a little necking and then called it a night. He told me he wanted to see me again right away, the next night.
I was so excited. My Dad and brother had been away the night before so they didn't really know I'd gone out, but they knew I was going out again. I got dressed and ready and waited.
And he never came. He stood me up. I was humiliated in front of my family and devastated that he'd set me up like that. It confirmed everything I already knew. I wasn't worthy to have a boyfriend, to date, to have a social life. I was fat, ugly and undesirable. I think I sunk to a new low that night.
The next day my girlfriend and I had a date to go to the movies in Charlottesville. I told her all about it...and cried and cried. She got madder and madder. She was so pissed on my behalf. She tried to make me feel better, but I was deeply, deeply wounded.
The next day was a Monday, but my family was going out on the boat that day. The night before I had written a note to Don. It basically said that I was really hurt by what he had done. That I had genuinely liked him and thought we had something between us. Then I told him something along the lines of I guess you're proud of yourself for teaching the 18 year-old her lesson. I laid it on thick. I asked to borrow the van Monday morning and drove to the parking lot of the printing company and put the note in Don's truck. Then I went boating with my family...
I'm sure I was a mopey mope all day. I remember experiencing that thing where you hear every break-up song on the planet that day and they're all singing to you. Honest to God, if it had ended there I'm sure my life would be completely different than it is now.
But no. My note pulled on Don's heartstrings, or worked on his conscience, or whatever. Shortly after we got home I got a phone call from him. He wanted to come see me right away. Secretly I was thrilled. We rode down to the lake near my house and talked. He was so so sorry. He'd gotten cold feet, wasn't sure he was ready for a relationship. He knew he was falling in love with me and he was scared. Yes, he put the "L" word out there.
Well, who am I to deny a man in love what he wants? I took him back. Never mind that it was what I wanted too. We continued seeing each other until I left for my sophomore year. I met his family and even traveled to a family meet-up with them. He promised letters and visits when I went back to school. I was going back to college fifty pound lighter and with a boyfriend!
Labels: college years