I had really high hopes for my freshman year in college. I attended a two week summer program prior to the first semester and knew a handful of incoming freshman. Initially, this was a good thing. I was also living out of state with one of my best friends in one of the oldest residential halls on campus and we had an awesome room [read: no A/C, this-end-up furniture, a mirror too tall for me to use, and a neighbor who did interpretive dance at night to Disney music – she clearly had a single…and was single]. Despite the recurring brown theme and plywood smell; we lofted our beds, had a mini fridge, microwave, tv/vcr combo…coolest kids on the third floor.
There are so many awkward meet and greets when a college freshman – aka organized torture created to crush the spirit of any introvert. There were nerds in collegiate sweatshirts overzealous about extracurriculars, selling used books, and telling you how much college was going to “rock!” no thanks. Keep your group activities to yourself, I’ve got friends already. Anyways – after getting all set up and going to a couple mandatory events, I set off to find the familiar faces I met over the summer. [Please note – I was 18 with an attitude problem]
The first few months went by great – my roommate and I made friends with the girls in our hall and heard all about the promiscuous soccer players. One day exiting class I ran right into one of the upper classmen who helped facilitate the summer program. We chatted and he told me where to get the best coffee on campus…and that he was a soccer player. At that night’s game I ran into two other summer program leaders and introduced them to my roommate and her boyfriend. All three really nice guys, all three happy to see me; I was clueless.
I would often receive a voicemail or two from one of these three guys…calls I never returned. I would randomly, or so I thought, run into them outside my residence hall, the cafeteria or hear them yell my name as I walked into class. One night while my roommate and I were studying, there was a knock on the door… “Yo…I was in the neighborhood, thought I would stop in and say hey…” Classic Misie response – “oh, hey. You don’t live in this neighborhood so that’s a weird thing to say.” We chatted briefly and I awkwardly let him know I was in the middle of an intense study sesh and needed to get back to it. The phone calls increased, as did the clandestine meetings at dinner and in common areas. One day a guy popped out of the woods while I was walking home from class, “I figured you’d be walking home around this time!” [How would you like a swift kick to the throat?!] I began to freak out! How the hell did he know my class schedule/walking route? Since when is it OK to hide in the woods to see a girl? I began ducking behind columns and tall people, taking new routes to class and my dorm. One time I hid in a cabinet while my roommate’s boyfriend convinced them I was on a date. It was getting ridiculous and my flight or fight reflex was off the chart. I remember my roommate telling me, “Misie, just be nice!” Ha – yea, OK Liz…if I knew about human trafficking in 1999, I would have transferred out immediately. [I still love you and your kind heart Liz!]
One night there was a salsa dancing event and the girls on my hall really wanted to go. I begrudgingly attended, sitting in a corner scowling at anyone who dared make eye contact. As I attempted to leave, someone grabbed my waist and pulled me back onto the dance floor. I found myself mere inches away from one of my suitors/stalkers beady little eyes and almost mustache. Of course all three guys were in attendance and I spun back and forth between them. As my face grew hot and panic set it I scanned the room for someone, anyone, to save me. Suddenly I saw a hand reach into the crowd – I grasped tightly and was yanked out of said dance circle. It was a friend from high school – he didn’t know I was panicked – he just didn’t like that these jokers were all up in my biz. From that moment on I decided to never leave my dorm room except for class and the bathroom. I could easily live on saltines, pilfered bagels from the cafeteria and raisin bran. So, while most girls gained the freshman 15, joined every extracurricular, and created long lasting friendships…I lost ten pounds, hid out in dorm rooms, and became the invisible college student.
This sounds dramatic – and at the time – it was a bit over the top. Thankfully my stealth secret agent moves sent a clear message and eventually I was able to travel to class in peace. The phone calls and messages stopped and every once and awhile I would make a special trip to the cafeteria with my friends. By year end it became a running joke…and still is actually.
To Christian, Vern and Jelani*: if you ever read this – I know you guys weren’t total creeps – if it’s any consolation, I had a very cold heart and no intention of warming up to you. Today, I am mildly flattered. In 1999, I was sure you wanted to kidnap me and keep me in your basement.
*yup, these are real names…Philly represent