The man arrived in Calvin, Indiana in late August, and as his father and him drove onto the campus of Kuyper College the man suddenly felt the same way he did on that day nearly a year ago when he meekly approached Cindy in front of her locker. Change was on the horizon. And for a boy only recently turned eighteen fighting the debilitating seduction of lust, change was more than welcome.
The man and his father entered the fire lane on the north side of the man’s dorm building to a warm welcome of upperclassmen in matching t-shirts and way too much energy. Earl put the family’s F-150 pickup in park and opened his door. The man quickly followed suit and opened the passenger-side door, exited the truck, and moved towards the back where the next four years of his life was neatly packed.
“How are you doing?” stated a young man whose t-shirt claimed his name was Mark.
“Just fine,” said Earl. “This here is my son. He’s getting ready to start school.”
“That’s great!” said Mark with too much excitement. “Can I help you unpack and get stuff up to your son’s room? It looks like you could use the help. You sure packed every square inch of this pickup.” The other upperclassmen giggled at Mark’s apparently funny quip. Earl and his son exchanged a quick glance of mutual confusion.
“We’d love some help,” the man interjected. “I’m living in room 34.”
The next twenty minutes were spent with the man, his father, and Mark taking turns walking up the three sets of stairs to the third floor and dropping the man’s stuff down as neatly as possible. When it was all over, Mark said his “good-byes” and “see ya later’s” and headed off to help another unsuspecting freshman move in.
Earl uneasily looked around his son’s dorm room and, after a few moments, finally stated, “I know I maybe don’t say it enough son, but I’m proud of you. You’ve been a great son and I couldn’t have asked for more. You are going to do great things here at Kuyper. I can’t wait to see what they are.”
The words penetrated the man worse than any blade or bullet ever could have.
“If only my dad knew what I struggled with . . . what I did. He would never say those things,” the man thought to himself. But he never dared to tell his father his secret.
The day eventually came to a close and the man’s father’s flight was taking off that night. The two said their good-byes, fighting back tears, and Earl left in his pickup, the bed feeling especially light with the absence of the man’s possessions. The man headed back to his room, noticing a delightfully cute co-ed on his way, and the next hour of the man’s life was lost in fantasy.
He was soon interrupted by a deep voice that jarred him from the fantasy world he was engrossed in. “What’s up? My name’s Tony. I’m your roommate.”
“What’s up, man?” the man stated, a bit uneasy after feeling like he had been caught in some heinous act. The un-announced entrance of his roommate had thrown the man for a bit of a loop, but he soon recovered. “I just moved in today. Sorry I haven’t gotten more of my stuff put away.”
“It’s not a problem,” Tony said as he threw his suitcase, duffle bag, and backpack down on the ground. “I’ve got a few more things to bring up. Some guy named Mark is helping my parents haul it up. Did he make some ‘every square inch’ joke when you moved in?”
“Ya,” said the man.
“Did you get it?”
“O well,” said Tony. “Anyway, he and my folks are bringing up the rest of my crap.”
The man didn’t see much more of Tony that night, or that week for that matter. Apparently, according to what the man heard talked about on campus regarding “that guy’s roommate,” was that Tony had fit in with the party crowd pretty quickly. And when you’re busy partying and drinking, there isn’t much time for orientation events, especially when you can’t remember anything. That week was also a blur for the man, but in a different way. Between the meetings, social events, preparing for classes, and the man’s struggle which he constantly dealt with and unsuccessfully tried to keep in check, there barely seemed time enough to breathe. But as orientation winded down and the first days of classes quickly approached, the man felt a slight twinge of hope. And as his roommate stumbled in on Sunday night, the man had an ever-so-slight feeling that the next day would be the beginning of something special.
The feeling turned out to be wrong. After three days, the man could not figure out why, on a new campus full of new girls, he ever thought he could defeat his problem. Everywhere he looked there was a new girl that sparked a new fantasy. And every time he needed peace and quiet in his room after failing yet again, there was Tony, drunk or hung over or both. It was going to be a long, tough semester. The man knew it. And in his jeans, dirty baseball cap, and t-shirt boding some insignificant band, Tony knew it would be just as difficult for him, too. And it was.