I Fell In Love With My College RA
This is the story of how that turned out for me. Let’s make something very clear. I was a completely different person then than I am now. In 2013, my greatest dream was to leave the country, be a missionary, and have adventures.
When I first applied to college, I wanted to pursue my dreams to the fullest. The world was big, and I wanted to explore it. There were lost and hurting people out there that needed to know the love of Jesus Christ. So with this calling, I applied for a special dorm, one that focused on global missions. It was unusual for this dorm to also be mixed housing, guys sharing one side, the girls on the other. It was an honor to be chosen to live here.
My first week after moving in was a whirlwind. It still blurs together for me sometimes. I met some people who would be my closest friends, I met others who would come to despise, and I met the man I would consider to be the “first love of my life.” Maybe he was the love of a life I have since outgrown. Perhaps if I would have decided to follow that original dream, to travel and tell the world about Jesus. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Meeting My College RA
I met him during the first week of orientation. He was a junior and a religion major. Go figure. He was of average height, muscular build, very nice eyes, and an amazing smile.
I found out later that he spoke Spanish, French, and Arabic, and had a passion for the Middle East. Which, in the Evangelical world, is about the most prestigious thing you can get in terms of community recognition. I guarantee you can go into any Evangelical space and say that you do missions in the Middle East, and they would believe you are a step below God on Earth.
What else made this man so attractive? I’m very attracted to prestige, meaning when I saw his ambition after one conversation, I was hooked. I did your typical Instagram stalking, of course, found his ex-girlfriend, found out about the potential competition from other girls in our dorm, etc. But how was I supposed to make sure he knew I existed?
Getting His Attention
The answer came in the form of intramurals. Such a fun college pastime for ex-high school jocks and the other students who want to get their attention. I was pretty athletic in high school, playing sports throughout, so I thought this was an excellent opportunity. And he was the captain of our college dorm’s team. Perfect.
Tryouts were easy enough, I made the team (though it was not that hard). I just had to show enough tenacity to make it look like I took it seriously. This was intramurals after all. By the time of our first game, I had made a name enough for myself that I was partnered with him for warmups. That was the extent of our conversations throughout the first semester. I had no clue if this man was at all interested in me. I didn’t know his type, I didn’t know what he did outside of intramurals, so I tried to befriend his friends. That’s what happens when a girl who didn’t date in high school goes to a religious college thinking the natural order of things was to get engaged by the end of her senior year, if not sooner. People had a tendency to link up rather quickly.
When we came back from winter break, during our very first practice of the season, I was standing on the sidelines with my back to the field talking with friends, and out of nowhere, someone ran into me, knocking me down.
This is where the RomCom resemblance ends. It was not my captain crush. It was a brand new transfer student. Not cute. And on top of that, he fell into me so hard that it dislocated my knee.
I laid there for about an hour, covered in mud, shivering in the 30-degree weather as my friends called the campus police. They were about as helpful as my leg at the moment. My knee was obviously on the wrong side of my leg, and they suggested I call an ambulance. The broke college student in me who knew nothing about health insurance was told by a fellow teammate that the ride could cost thousands of dollars that I did not have. So I opted to take another offer from my friend who had a van. A van. I’m sure this is every parent’s nightmare, their daughter getting in a van with a person she barely knew who would take her to the ER.
Being college kids, we devised an amazing way to get me off the field without disturbing my leg. My friends made a stretcher out of skateboards. That worked about as well as you can imagine, and they dropped me, snapping my knee back into place on impact.
The only good thing that came out of that entire experience was that I got a very cute selfie which I proudly posted on Instagram of my captain pushing me in a wheelchair at the hospital. That I still have to this day in fact, now since archived on my feed but this is not where the story ends. It was not lost on me that his friends kept ribbing him in the ER as he pushed me in the wheelchair, “Hey, this is good practice for when you have your first kid” – oh I wanted to die, but I was also so attracted to him at that point I did want to have his kids. Remember this is Bible College– So kids by 21/22 were not necessarily frowned upon. As long as the couple was married.
Sinful Thoughts & Desperate Measures
Eventually, I recovered, not only from the temporary baby fever but also from the knee injury. I continued to play being both slightly obsessed and sexually repressed at the same time. This was sinning in my head to the nth degree. Women were not supposed to have sexual thoughts after all. I remember at one point, we were at a picnic with our teammates and making PB&J sandwiches, Captain Crush licked the spoon and I swear it was that scene from Bridgerton.
In another instance, I kept trying to weave my way into his life. I would go downstairs to the common areas of our dorm constantly, my friends and roommates kept tabs on his movements, and we even had a code word for it. I attended events, even went so far as to ask him for a ride to church. He didn’t seem to pick up any signals I was giving him.
No. He was completely respectful, a gentleman, and freaking aloof. He had one focus in college and one focus only. Missionary work. So what did I do? I signed up for every summer internship out of the country that I could. I worked at children’s homes, I interned in remote areas in desperate need of the love of Jesus Christ. I came back from summers with story upon story to loudly brag about in practice, in the lobby, his favorite coffee shop on campus. The only coffee shop on campus.
Once I moved off-campus, I still kept in touch with my original teammates. Unremarkably, it did not change my relationship with my team captain. There was another trip to the ER for Intramurals, after which my collegiate sporting career was over. He did come to visit me after the knee surgery which was nice. My mom made dinner for the whole team. And I was high on pain meds trying so hard to not tell him I was in love with him.
The End of a College Romance
On the day of his graduation I, with my crutches and a broken leg, went to see him. With our friends of course. We were all together when I overheard him talking about a girl he went on a date with the day before. I had never met her. I was devastated. I thought I wanted to run away, or, hobble away at least. But there was no cell reception where we were and I couldn’t even call other friends for help. So I sat there in physical and emotional agony with a smile plastered on my face listening to him talk about how the date went.
But once he graduated, he moved to the Middle East to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ for 2 years.
During those 2 years, I also graduated and decided to pursue a gap year in South America, exchanging work for room and board, trying to better my Spanish. I did this wanting to further my own career. I subconsciously thought about him being impressed with my adventurous spirit and spreading the gospel in my own way. He certainly signed up for my email updates.
At this point, I had known this man for 4 years, two of which he had lived out of the country. Of course, I was living out of the country too and life continued on. But then one fateful day, I was working in a foster home in Argentina when I got an email from him. He was moving to New York. Exactly where I was slated to go to grad school. I let out a screech so loud that the tías came running. I quickly FaceTimed my closest friends to inform them. Maybe this was God’s plan. A hallmark movie ending!
Fast forward to my current life in NYC. I’m still here, he’s still here, but we aren’t together. You thought this was a love story. Psych.
Here’s what happened. To be honest I thought that our time abroad would bring us together. Those friends who took me to the ER alongside captain crush became such close friends in my time in college that I was at their weddings. Our intramural community was so tight-knit, that many of them dated each other throughout the years. Remember, this is bible college after all. So why couldn’t this magical, miraculous, God story happen to me? Why couldn’t our love story that spanned literal continents be the epic love story we’d share to churches when raising money to go back overseas to be long-term missionaries?
I never thought to take into account how much we would change. Or rather, how much I would change.
He was one of the first people I saw when I moved to the city for grad school. And I was still as clueless about attracting him as I ever was. Of course, we had kept up with each other’s lives via email lists, but that was in a digital space with 3000 miles between us. Now here he was in a coffee shop in midtown sitting with me before I went to my semester orientation.
We didn’t talk about our love lives, we didn’t talk about our experiences abroad. I had heard from mutual friends that living in a conflict zone had changed him, that he had seen some stuff. PTSD stuff. Ok, here’s the secondary trope I was fed through undergrad, a woman’s role was to comfort. So I tried that and utterly failed. It’s not that I was awkward and that he didn’t want to open up, it’s just that neither of us knew how to navigate this conversation after not seeing each other for 3 years. And I was not the one to be his therapist or his confidant.
We talked for 2 hours. He was single, not having maintained a relationship overseas. I don’t even remember the rest of the conversation now, but I remember that I still wanted him. I wanted him to fall in love with me in this amazing city. I wanted it to be an epic love story after all.
What followed was 2 years of grad school, seeing each other occasionally, hearing about his latest small business ventures, side hustles, new ministries, and so on. He now lives in Brooklyn, and I’m still in Manhattan so he might as well be on the other side of the world. (if anyone is from NYC and knows what it’s like to traverse boroughs you know what I’m talking about) .
And then one day I see an Instagram post. He’s engaged. To someone, he met during the pandemic, and they were to be married within 6 months. Literally insane, right? Who meets someone, gives them COVID, quarantines with them, and comes out of it with a proposal?
What I suspect was that he was still under the impression that sex is for marriage. Only for marriage. He still hadn’t had sex at 29 and was ready for “marriage,” or at least sex. That’s what bible college taught us after all. It’s amazing what people can be driven to do when sex is dangled in front of them like some mystical otherworldly reward for being good. Because that’s what it was like in bible college. You go, you court, (what Christians call dating with intentions), you find a soulmate, you get married at 22 so you can have sex on a normal timeline like the rest of the world. Except you’re married. That is not on the rest of the world’s radar. At least outside of the fundamentalist ideals.
This of course is just my speculation, but I do know that he is still in the missionary mindset and just now sees his field as NYC rather than the Middle East. Although I have to wonder if the sex really is that good.
My Plan, On the Other Hand…
I on the other hand have been dating around, active on the apps, figuring out what’s out there. If I find someone I like, I go for it. Not go for it as in propose marriage, but I go for it, see if they want to have sex, maybe stay the night. I’m pretty satisfied with my overall sex life right now. I don’t hold on to the beliefs of college. Sometimes I have nightmares that I did pursue that life and where I ended up with 3 kids by 25.
What falling in love with my captain crush from this unrequited ideal of love taught me was that love shouldn’t be driven by the promise to have sex. I’m not saying his relationship with his wife is anything like that. For all I know they are still very happy and in love. And definitely having sex.
But for me personally, I don’t need an epic love story to have really good sex. And I don’t need to have really good sex for an epic love story. I’m still figuring everything out and the adventure is in exploring and the ability to explore. Which is something I never would have experienced if everything would have worked out as I dreamed with captain crush.