The next morning I bee-lined to Sandy’s room to ask her about the girl I’d seen the night before. She told me her name was Donna and she lived in the dorm. She was a junior transfer from southern California.
I told Sandy how frustrated I’d been lately trying to cope with the youth program and that studying accounting was killing me. She gave me a pep talk about relaxing and making myself flexible. She prescribed an evening of light fun – specifically the event being held that evening in the dorm called “Traveling Treats” where dorm dwellers offered snacks in their rooms as a way to mingle. Sandy must have detected the lack of enthusiasm in my eyes, because she added another suggestion: “Definitely visit room 628.”
* * *
That evening, my roommate handed out knockoff fig bars we’d bought at the Piggly Wiggly while I negotiated through the crowded hallways toward her room. My heart was beating like a drum. I swear it had been love at first sight the night before. I could not remember being this jazzed about meeting somebody. I made my way past more kids and counted down the room numbers. I took a deep breath just outside her door and casually stepped in. The room smelled fresh, like clean clothes. A small group of girls stood around chatting. Donna wasn’t one of them. One looked over and handed me a plate of Oreos. I assumed she was her room mate. She seemed engaged in conversation so I took the liberty of snooping around. The wall above one of the beds was covered with photos. I looked closer – sure enough, there she was. I was surprised to see her hair was blonde. The dim café light made it look darker. My eyes jumped from picture to picture – some framed, some simply pinned. In one she wore a backpack and stood at the entryway of a castle. In another she sat on a ledge near a rugged, snow covered mountain range. There were dozens of photos of her with all kinds of people – in all kinds of places.
“Your room mate is quite the traveler” I said.
“She was an exchange student – Finland, I think – she’ll be back in a minute if you want to ask her.”
Now I really wanted to meet her. She’d have to be my age if she’d been to all these places already. I studied more photos and found a family portrait. I counted six people – the man I assumed was her Dad wore a beard and looked sort of gruff. Her mother looked cute and sweet. Donna stood between two brothers and a sister. In a snapshot all four kids sat around a beat up orange station wagon. In another they sat around a picnic table in a lush looking yard – the sun was setting in the background, everybody was tan, wore shorts, and looked so happy.
This was the girl for me.
Another photo caught my eye and I nearly choked on my cookie. It was another professional portrait sitting prominently on her desk. It was Donna with some guy. She looked stunning. Unfortunately, he did too.
I quietly stepped backward out of the room.
NEXT: Getting Off Campus