My college sweetheart

Jeremy is every girl’s dream. You don’t know him, but he’s the kind of guy a girl falls in love with before she realizes there’s ice under her feet.  He’s got this sense of humor that will have you laughing so hard you’ll crack a rib if you’re not ready for it.  I remember him telling me a story about how he contracted crabs in college.  Admittedly, getting crabs is no laughing matter but when Jeremy tells the story, you can’t help but wish you’d been a fly on the wall looking on in the moment he realized the demise of his dreamy love affair.  He’s a tall, strapping guy with dark hair and black framed glasses like men wore during America’s Golden Age.  His shoes aren’t ever scuffed up and even though he wears relaxed fit jeans, it’s easy to see that he’s got strong legs as he swaggers nonchalantly, confidently.

Jeremy and me in Boston, 2009

When I stand next to him, I feel petite and protected.  Jeremy opens doors.  He steps ahead of me, his long stride quickly rushing forward, and reaches around me to swing the door open before my feet.  He’s got great arms.  When we were in college, Jeremy was slender, but now when I look at his arms, I think he must have done a few tours of Afghanistan when I wasn’t watching.  I think he does push-ups or pull-ups or whatever they do in the military that gives soldiers good-looking arms.  You know what nice arms mean, don’t you?  Nice arms usually mean nice hugs, the kinds that melt a girl in the safety of genuineness.  That’s what strong arms mean to me.  When Jeremy hugs me, I feel safe.

What’s even better than Jeremy’s arms are his eyes, his laugh, and his boyish smile.  He looks straight at me, into the black center of my eyes where the bashful parts of me peer out.  His laugh makes the air buoyant all around me.  He’s got an ornery laugh that sometimes clips away at the chains binding up the timid girl inside.  When Jeremy laughs, his eyes hang on.  He likes it when I laugh and so we laugh together. His voice is a charcoal pencil that draws a sure smile on me. Sometimes he turns his face away just slightly and looks at me from the corner of his eye, gently luring truth and bare-nakedness close enough to the surface long enough to name it.  He’s teaching me not to pull vulnerability down away from the surface of my watery eyes, where I usually drown it on the latch of an anchor at the bottom of my dead sea.

Jeremy dances. He’s got a little Michael in his step, a touch of Madonna in his vogue, and enough Motown in his hometown neighborhood to shape the way he sees power and privilege and opportunity. He’s compassionate, kind, and embracing of those different than him. He knows the words to songs, old and new, and appreciates time-tested forms of entertainment like the theater and restaurants with waiters wearing white aprons.

I don’t remember exactly how I met Jeremy, but I recall that he was shy and accommodating as a classmate.  We ended up doing class projects together and it wasn’t long before I found his sense of humor as tangible as my dad tickling my ribs.  Among my favorite memories of the times Jeremy and I spent building our friendship was a project for our senior Organization Behavior course.  We spent hours working on it at a house where he was house sitting, huddled over an old computer in the basement.  He had been warned that the house was haunted, but together we discovered the adventure of the truly spooked place.  He went ahead of me to turn on the light in the hall before I went to the bathroom and locked all the doors before we left because I wanted out of the house first.  He was brave.  I looked up to his tall stature and his broad courage and I adored him.  Jeremy protected me from the scary spirits in that house by allowing me to bolt out the front door first.  Later, he let me tell the story first, too.

By the time we graduated college, our friendship had grown to a sizable force in my life.  I loved spending time with Jeremy and it broke my heart when the days and weeks after graduation grew wide the distance between us like a river cuts slowly a crevice to a canyon in rock.

Jeremy knew things about me that I don’t share with many men.  He read my body language effortlessly and asked exactly the right questions at exactly the right times.  His cadence has always been excellent, as was his use of my name and phone number.  I missed his hugs, his laugh, and his steady attention when we talked.  I missed “mocha love”, a drink he concocted for our long nights working on class projects together.  I missed my Jeremy.

Five years after graduation, I found myself drowning in a hypothermic relationship.  My then-fiancé galloped into the blazing sunset with a vixen three weeks before our wedding and I found myself craving the safety I had known in Jeremy’s company years before.  I wanted to laugh effortlessly over nonsensical things and for him to help me name the darkness that lingered overhead.  There wasn’t an ounce of hesitation when I called on him and it was only a short time before I found this strong man at my side.

When we reconnected a few years ago, I found a man who I’d loved, lost, and missed.  There’s no way I’m letting him get away again.  And, next time I think I’ve found myself standing on a patch of ice over a rolling sea of romance, I’ll ask my dear friend, Jeremy, to hold my hand. He inherently knows, as most gay men do, to cradle a girl’s fragile heart unyieldingly…fearlessly…lustlessly, because it’s in the fall to love’s depths through the cracks of a glassy surface that she risks being swallowed up by ravenous sharks circling below.


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