I know, without being told, what one of my biggest problems is in my constant search for love.
I get crushes. I put on the blinders, I zero in one particular guy, and I spend months – sometimes longer – imagining what our dates will be like, how to accommodate his family members into my wedding party, what the dream house we will build will look like, and how cute our babies will be.
All before he even knows I have a crush.
This is what happened to me in college. For two whole years, I set all my hopes and dreams on one guy in particular, who, as far I know, never really knew how much I liked him.
This is the story of The Captain of Heat.
I remember distinctly the first time I saw him. At the Liberal Arts orientation program, the spring of 2000, before starting college. At the time, I hadn’t yet graduated from high school. But that one morning, all the high school boys were forgotten forever. He sat in the front row, making the girls sitting on either side of him giggle as he teased them. I was a few rows back, but I was already smitten.
I instantly recognized him six months later, when my college days began. As you may recall me mentioning before, that first year of college wasn’t exactly my best. I didn’t know anyone in my program other than one girl from my high school, and we stuck together. Most of the other kids in our class already seemed to know one another, and they were a difficult group to crack - or at least I thought they were. It took a long time for me to realize that they were nice people who were ready to be friendly; I had just never bothered to try.
Now this guy – I wouldn’t call him extremely outgoing, but he was one of the few who talked to me from the very beginning. He was quiet, calm, charming, funny, and oozed confidence. And he was quite possibly the hottest guy I’ve ever known in real life.
I don’t need to make up a super-secret code name for this guy. He already has one.
Another friend that I had made in my class apparently had the same crush, and we discussed it at length. We decided to give him a secret alias so that if anyone overheard us talking, they wouldn’t know who we were chatting about. I think he started out at Mister Hot, but we decided the title “mister” didn’t really convey just how royally hot he was. So we changed it to Sir Hot. Still, it didn’t seem grand enough.
And that was how we came to anoint him “The Captain of Heat”.
Oh, don’t give me that. You know you’ve come up with code names for your crushes in the past too!
I would’ve done anything for that guy. And while I don’t know if he realized how much I liked him, I think he knew I had a crush. Looking back now, I think it’s fair to say he took advantage of that.
He was an intelligent guy, I won’t take that away from him – one of those people who, when called upon by a teacher, even if he didn’t know the answer, could pull something out of his butt that sounded super-smart and impressive. But he was a procrastinator, and lacked motivation.
That was where I came in.
I was a good note-taker. I paid attention in classes and rarely skipped. I planned study sessions and tried to be as prepared as possible. (Yes. I was a complete nerd. I admit it.)
He picked up on that. He started sitting next to me in classes, asked to borrow my notes when he missed a lecture, and eventually started crashing my study sessions. He'd come around the corner, find me sitting by my locker with my books open, then just quietly sit down beside me and flip open his books too, and start asking questions.
It was fun with him there. I loved every minute of it. By second year, he was one of my best friends in our program, and I considered him a huge part of my life.
But while I was living each day to see him in the halls, have him sit by me in class, work out with him in the gym, and hear him ask me if I wanted to study for Art History, I think even he was starting to feel guilty.
One thing he always teased me about was how I didn’t have my driver’s license, almost two years after I was eligible to get it. Towards the end of our second and final year of Liberal Arts, The Captain of Heat offered to repay my hours of helping him study for finals by teaching me how to drive. He forced me to call and make an appointment for my driver’s test, and in the weeks leading up to it, he took me driving a couple of times, a crash-course behind the wheel.
School was over by the time I went for my driver’s test, but he insisted I email him to let him know how it went. I passed on my first try (it was a shock even to me); when I emailed him to tell him, he wrote me back to say he wanted to take me out to celebrate.
I was in heaven. It was a dream come true. I didn’t even care that he had a girlfriend.
He wanted to take me out.
We went to the movies, and it was, truly, the best date I’ve ever been on. Of course, I never forgot that he wasn’t actually available, but it didn’t seem to matter. We laughed, and talked, and when the movie was over, he walked me to my car, gave me a hug, and said that we had to keep in touch.
We emailed back and forth a bit that following year, but it eventually fizzled out. Two years later, I happened to see him at the Shawville Fair, and I could barely speak I was so nervous at seeing him again. We lost touch again until Facebook was invented, and he added me as a friend. But we never really made contact again, and about a year ago, he either deleted his account, or deleted me, because I went to creep him one day, as I did from time to time, and he was gone.
Every so often, I run into someone who he was friends with back then, and I ask about him.
But no one seems to know him anymore.
There’s a point to this story.
For two whole years, I saw no one but him. I was at a college that was much bigger than my high school – still small-scale compared to others, but there was still a whole new group of people to get to know. Yet, when it came to guys, I barely remember any of them but him.
Because I only saw him.
College years are when you’re supposed to find out who you really are. Make mistakes, experiment, have fun, get into trouble, meet guys, meet more guys, and have fun and get into trouble with them.
I sat in classrooms and daydreamed about only one; one who was out of my league, and who likely only bothered to speak to me because of my good note-taking abilities, and my dedication to studying, and helping him do the same.
I regret it. I regret the blinders; the fact that I didn’t get to know anyone else.
I don’t know if there was anyone else in those college halls who would’ve been interested in me, but because of The Captain of Heat, I guess I’ll never know.
And yet I know, for a fact, that if I were to go back again...
I’d do it all the same.