You’ll be too poor to afford a morning Starbucks. Let his presence in Advanced Prose be your morning jolt. That pumpkin spiced high. Move your school bag aside and let him sit next to you. Stop doodling cartoons of Tweetie Bird with hearts for eyes. Stop giving yourself away like that. Be vulnerable, but not yet. Not ever, maybe.
Let him show up to the same parties as you and when he asks you to be on his beer pong team tell him you throw like a girl, not because you need him to teach you his ways but because you couldn’t be bothered to make a fool of yourself. His cheeks are Solo cup red when he grabs you by the hand and says he needs you as his cheerleader.
Let him be all the things you never thought you deserved. You will shift from shy formalities like “What is the weirdest thing about you?” to Skyping into the early morning until your eyelids are heavy as your heart and your speech melts into cursive rumbles.
He will tell you over a text the following morning that it was the most precious thing he’d ever seen. You believe him, you think.
Let him remember all the mundane details about your outfits. He’ll classify your style as “sexy grandma” and you’re not mad at him for it. In fact, he’s bang on. His bicep on your pink knitted sweater will drape over your cold shoulders. In that moment, you are symbiotic. You haven’t known him more than a semester but he knows you like a kid’s locked diary knows truth masked in illegible handwriting. This scares you.
You will do all the things with him you’ve always wanted to do with a person. You will go into stores with no intention of buying anything, but it will become your thing to go inside, hug, leave, and repeat.
You concede on the bus ride home, your head draped over his shoulder, that you are the same type of weird. The ensuing silence is comfortable, tangible.
It will be all so sappy, really. You will clear your browser history in disgust, a laundry list of searches like “Am I in love” and “What is love” and “Get rid of stress acne asap” and “Help make it stop.”
You listen to his bodily fluids make unhealthy sounds from upstairs while he contends with a bad Pad Thai-induced stomach flu. You run to the store for Pedialyte and wonder who the hell you’ve become. A monster, maybe.
When he moves away to some fancy school next semester and insists on talking to you every day, let him. Let him because that’s what you want, and asceticism is for squares. When he comes to visit, take him on jogs. Re-run those routes without him when he leaves and take slower strides, savoring the sidewalk where you two once heaved in unison. In between half-breaths, your laughs are tinted with melancholy and you joke but also drop truth bombs about things like smoker’s lung and being “way too lazy for this.”
You will lament your birthday but he will make it all better with words. A stack of books will arrive on your doorstep just on time and the card will be perfect. He said all the things you never knew you wanted to hear.
Like a nervous tick, you’ll absentmindedly be beak-deep into a Tweetie bird doodle with hearts for eyes. You stop yourself. Am I being vulnerable? Is this allowed yet? You’ll retain some semblance of independence by telling him you’ll never give him your Facebook or email password and he will say that it wouldn’t be weird if you did. He’ll talk to you about elusive things like the future and holidays and the concept of us and the more he drops that F-bomb, the less afraid you are to spell out every letter.
When he’s gone, you’ll feel his absence linger like a fat brick on your chest. But not in a needy way. Gosh, of course not. You’d never be that type of girl. Please, you have too many friends and too many jobs for that kind of rubbish.
Have a plan of attack when he asks you to live with him in a place you swore you’d never revisit. Consider freelancing remotely to hide out in his undecorated cave and let the cadence of his warm breath against the winter air bring you back home, whatever that means to you at that point. He’ll press your cold nose into the cavern of his neck and you will live happily ever after. And by that you mean late nights editing each other’s work and early mornings over home-brewed coffee you can actually afford this time.
But don’t do it. Don’t leave everything behind. Because real love lets you first chase your own dreams, and then finds its place comfortably within them.