He had on nothing but a towel. His hair was a shade of blond unknown to adults, and the waves in his hair demanded a hand be run through them. His eyes were a piercing blue and focused on something I could not see. His skin was still visibly warm from exercise, soon to be remedied by the soap he was carrying in his right hand. He lived in the room next to mine for the next year, and over a decade later, I cannot recall his name.
I was eighteen as I walked passed him in the second floor hallway of Joy Kidd residence; a newly minted adult, striking out on my own for the first time. My covetous look at this vision lingered a bit too long as my sister ran into my back spilling the contents of the hip-huger laundry basket she carried. For the next hour she and my mother helped me pull all of my most valued possessions from the trunk and back seat of the family Oldsmobile. They piled my things to one side of the seemingly small dorm room.
I was anxious for them to leave. I was ready to shed my high school self and did not want witnesses to mock this attempted change. When they were gone, I sat on the unmade bed and cried. I consoled myself by sorting through all the new possessions that would help me create this person. A terrycloth robe, shower flip-flops, a set of luggage, and the new clothes contained within; a new being ready to slip into them all. I had cut and dyed my hair, a drastic change from the meek and mousy girl that left Turtle Creek.
Just as my confidence was building, a six and a half foot tall Bermudian popped his head through my open door. What surprised me the most was his red hair and milky freckled skin. He sported a t-shirt and long shorts, accompanied by a bright smile that immediately put me at ease. His name was Anthony and he lived across the hall. It was also his first year and he was making his way around the house getting to know everyone. In seconds, another head adorned in a ball cap poked through the gap between Anthony’s shoulder and the door. Dallas was from Sussex, half way between my old home and new.
These two faces were to be familiar ones in my room for the next eight months. It is not until this moment that I understand they were there to get a look at the new girl on the floor, to assess and judge her. And it has been years I have regretted the drifting of these friendships in the semesters that followed. While I was able to shed the hair and old clothes, the shyness that plagued me at fifteen remained my silent torturer. Fear of the wrong thing to be said, or to not be approved of was the reason behind the silent girl who read her Psych textbook with unnecessary diligence. I would not find the person I sought to become for many years, and by then, I needed to be someone else.