(Read part 1 here) After the True Love Waits rally, my friendship with Russ blossomed. Most lunches you would find me sitting with him & his roommate eating & laughing & listening to the crazy stories he had of his family. I remember him talking about "I Love My Wife Month" & his resolve to do the same whenever he got married & feeling a very distinct pang of jealousy. I was still dating boyfriend, and while boyfriend was romantic - he wasn't nearly as romantic as this guy next to me seemed.
Although, there were a few problems. One being, well...I was in a relationship. Two? So was Russ. I hadn't really spoken to him much about his girlfriend, but word around campus was they had been dating for awhile. I always thought it was a bit weird, because I never really saw them together, but I thought...you know...whatever...to each his own. The third problem was perhaps the biggest & most disconcerting for me. Note the first two: we were both in relationships with other people. The third problem came creeping into my heart with stunning recognition one morning when I saw him walking towards me on my way to Psychology.
I was excited to see him.
Most importantly...I had butterflies.
You know...those butterflies.
Instantly I composed myself & nonchalantly said my "good mornings" and "hellos" to him & my other guy friends who were decidedly skipping out on Psychology. I remember very vividly what I felt that morning when he gave me one of his hugs - it startled me because it was something I didn't even feel with boyfriend, and we had been dating pretty seriously for a couple of months. I couldn't deny it, though. It was a feeling that shook me to the very core of who I was & what I was looking for in a guy.
I felt at home.
I never looked at Russell the same. I knew the connection meant something, and that knowledge scared me. I was...in love, right? In love with boyfriend?
I dealt with the situation the only way I knew how.
I avoided Russ.
Now, I still ate lunch with him & friends. I still sat in front of him in Psychology & we still talked. But, I conveniently timed my trek to class in order to miss his interception. I may be late to class, but at least I didn't have to deal with the feelings making themselves more apparent. Basically I lived in denial.
But our connection wasn't always emotional. One of the main reasons I found myself so magnetically pulled towards Russ was his absolute love of life. Every time I was with him, I knew I would end up laughing. Every time I saw him, just watching his face light up in recognition was enough to allow myself the privilege of hanging out with him.
One night, I was lounging in the lower level lobby of my dorm waiting for boyfriend to call. Suddenly I heard the elevator door open & laughter. I looked towards the door & in walked Russ with some friends & this...contraption. My eyes showed confusion, no doubt. Once he saw me his eyes lit up.
"Elora! Okay. What drink do you want...RC, Rootbeer, or Mr. Pibb?"
"Um...wha..Russ, what are you doing?" I glanced at the long tube jutting out of a funnel and suddenly it donned on me, "Is that a..."
"A cola bong!" He started giggling like a school kid & asked again. "Come on. I'll pay for your drink. Just let me know what you want. I'd go with RC. It has less...fizz."
His friend started chuckling & I had a sinking feeling I wasn't getting out of this one. I shrugged my shoulders & decided why not. It wasn't like we were downing alcohol. I kept the question to myself of how they managed to get the bong downstairs, and replied, "RC."
"YES! She's in guys. Let's do this." Russ ran upstairs & got my drink & I waited on the couch, listening to our friend give me pointers from his background in wasting a complete fall semester at Texas A&M. When Russ came back, I was "prepped" & ready to go.
Russ looked at me & smiled. "Are you ready for this? Just lean over the trash can & tap my leg if you need me to slow down. If you need to stop, just stick your thumb like this & cover the hole to keep from spewing everywhere. It's so fun. I promise."
I looked straight into his eyes and said, "this better not be a joke."
I bent over the trash can. I glanced at my thumb keeping the RC at bay and took one final glance at Russ long enough to see a glint in his eye. "I'm ready." I said.
The soda came pouring through the tube & into my mouth. I was back at youth camp all over again, downing a sprite in seconds in order to win a relay. Only this time, it was an RC, and I was drinking out of a bong.
I was doing well, until I started choking on the fizz.
I did what any other person with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of how to manhandle a cola bong would do - I stopped drinking, spit the remaining RC which was IN my mouth out, and moved the tube away from my face so as to prevent getting any more drenched with the sticky carbonation.
"Elora! Trashcan! Trash can!!!"
My brain slowly made the connection. Instantly, my thumb moved to where it was supposed to be - covering the spout - and I leaned back and made a quick, furtive glance towards Russ.
He was drenched from the waist down with residual RC - most likely what was spewed from my mouth.
I smiled sheepishly, "Oops?"
The laughter started quietly...a slight movement of both of our shoulders. Before we knew it, we had tears running down both our cheeks from laughing at the other person. Him laughing at my absolute inability to down a soda, and me laughing at well...his wet clothes.
We were interrupted by my roommate walking in the room.
"Hey! Ohmigosh. Girl...you have to try this." I peeked at Russ from my tear-stained eyelids & made quick eye contact. He winked.
"Um, okay. But...your boyfriend just called." She glanced at Russ. "I didn't know where you were so I told him you'd call him back."
Immediately I was brought back to reality. Oh. Boyfriend. Right. I glanced at Russ and said, "I need to go call him back. I'll see you later. Make sure she does this. And, uh...thanks for the RC."
I could hear him chuckling & my roommate asking questions as I walked out the door.
I remember that night for multiple reasons. One, it was one of the first times Russ & I truly bonded. Two, it was another conversation with boyfriend that would change the course of my life.
That night, I shared with boyfriend I was transferring to Oklahoma Baptist. I would be closer to him. We could finally really pursue this whole..."future" thing.
I remember him being excited. I remember him telling me what we could do on the weekends & where he would take me & us dreaming a little of how wonderful it would be to experience living so close to each other.
But I also remember hearing the laughter in the lower level lobby while I sat in the hallway alone talking on the phone. I was happy, right? I was doing the right thing...right?
"You there, Dot?"
Dot was my nickname given to me by my boyfriend. I never liked it, mainly because it seemed more of a name a brother would give a sister...but I never let on.
"Yeah, I'm here. I was just thinking."
"Me too, girl. I can't wait for you to get up here. I miss you."
"Yeah." I said...still thinking about the people in the lobby. "Me too."
....to be continued