It was a first day. First days are always the worst because, for me, a massive cloud of butterflies descends on my gut, and they don’t leave until my head hits the pillow. In addition to my volatile stomach, I noticeably sweat, and my grasp on the English language becomes tenuous. Like any other person, there have been many first days in my life: the first day of elementary school, the first day of sleep-away camp, the first day on the job, the first day of high school (That was a doozy. Perhaps a story for another day).
I would soon come to realize that none of those would compare to my first day of college. My parents made the eight and a half hour drive all the way down to Georgetown University (yeah, I’m a pretty good student) from where we live in Massachusetts. It was a ride filled to the brim with silence and nervous anticipation. We left at 6 a.m. to get there by my move-in time, which was 3 p.m. I was living in Darnall Hall, a freshman residence. To say the heat was sweltering would be an understatement. When I finally got up to my room (it turns out two elevators aren’t sufficient when 150 kids are trying to move in at the same time) my brain was so oppressed by the muggy, unconditioned air that I could barely think straight. My parents and my pest of a sister were practically doing all the work of unloading my crap while I sat at my desk trying to collect my thoughts.
For months, I thought this move would be like nothing. I shrugged it off saying, everyone goes to college, it’s no big deal. Millions of people had done exactly what I was doing, so it couldn’t have been that hard. Sure, I wasn’t going to see my parents and my friends from for a long stretch of time. But so what? That comes with the territory.
Oh, how wrong I was. The true weight of my circumstances came crashing down on me in my dorm room. And I cried. I sat on my mother’s lap and I cried and cried and cried into her arms. She knew what was wrong. Even if I didn’t let on until now, she somehow always knew. My dad took my sister out into the hall, presumably so she wouldn’t make fun of me.
Through blubbering bouts of incoherence, I manage to get out, “I’m…I’m n-not gonna s-see you f-for months! I didn’t th-think this was g-gonna be that h-hard!”
“I cried just like you are now when I left for college,” she said.
I sat up and wiped my eyes, “Really?”
“Yes! Going away is difficult. But it’s something you have to do. And it’s something you’ll never quite be ready for, until you are. Think about it, you’ll get a break from your sister!”
That was actually a compelling argument. I giggled a bit through my choked tears.
“Listen, in two weeks, you won’t even want to come home. You’ll dread phone calls from me and your father. And if you’re really that unhappy you can always transfer. Trust me, you’re going to be ok.”
I slowly shook my head in disbelief and my eyes welled up again.
“Come here,” she said as she cradled me closer.
At that precise moment, someone busted through the door, and my head shot up to see my roommate and his parents. The speed with which I sprang off my mother’s lap cannot be quantified. I didn’t want my first impression with my roommate to be of me crying like a little bitch. I quickly wiped my eyes and readied myself for introductions.
“Desmond, hey man! Are you, um, crying?” he asked.
“No! No! Well, actually I was, but it was because I stubbed my toe on this stupid bed. Clumsy me, I guess.”
Smooth, real smooth, you idiot.
My sister popped her head in, and said, “He’s lying. He’s crying because he’s gonna miss us.”
“Shut up, Amanda!” I walked over to my roommate, “How are you doin’ Greg.”
That luckily broke the tension. My mom got up and we all exchanged pleasantries. We talked about what we’re studying. Me, pre-law, and Greg, business. Before long, they started unpacking, so we stepped out of the room and left them to it.
I followed my family out to the car, and I managed to say good-bye without breaking down in tears. That was a relief. But embarrassment never seemed to elude me. My sister, Amanda, bear hugged me in the parking lot, lifting me off the ground in the process. She whispered in my ear, “I still own you.”
I loathed Amanda. She was only 16, but she was a head taller than me and could probably break my wrist in an arm-wrestling match if she wanted to. At home, she made it clear that she was the boss of me. I was forced to do her chores, and it was on me to make sure that our parents never found out. She would frequently barge into my room for impromptu wrestling matches, in which she would lay me out like a starfish in seconds. Whenever we played board games together, she would cheat and always dare me with her eyes to protest. I had learned to simply ignore it after the one time I called her out and she gave me a black eye. She would sometimes just sit on my face and just fart all over it. Whenever she did that, it signified that she was in a terrible mood.
What I never understood was why she was the strong one and I was the weak one. I was a guy, I was supposed to be the strong one. It wasn’t fair. My dad suggested I should start lifting weights to counter her, but I could never follow through. I told myself maybe I would seriously go to the gym in college. But who was I kidding? I knew I wasn’t going to do that. It wasn’t in my character. I just had to pray that Amanda wouldn’t go to Georgetown. I could actually envision a plausible situation in which my sister would go to my college simply to continue her lifetime of harassment against me.
Needless to say, I wasn’t going to miss her. She made my life a nightmare, so to be rid of her for a few months was much needed. However, my parents were going to be a different story. I was going to miss my dad, sure, but I was going to yearn for my mom. I was always more of a momma’s boy.
I hugged my dad first, and when he went to go start the car, I went in to hug my mom. She was even taller than Amanda. My face was smooshed against her sizable breasts as she pulled me in.
“I’m gonna miss you Des, don’t forget to call.”
I told her I wouldn’t. She got in the passenger’s seat, and they were off. I followed the car with my eyes until it disappeared down a hill. I sighed a big sigh.
Not ready to go back to my room yet, I decided to shoot down to the dining hall. Nearly everyone was getting settled into their dorms, so it wasn’t too crowded. Not all the stations were open yet, so I just grabbed a turkey sandwich, a staple school meal for me, and sat down at one of the many empty tables.
The swarm of butterflies I was talking about before, well, they prevented me from eating even a quarter of my sandwich. I picked at it for a bit, and finally let it sit. I just need to sit here for a while, I told myself, I’m too tired to be the least bit social right now.
Soon, I was swimming in my vast array of crazy thoughts. Am I gonna like it here? Will I make new friends? Will my classes be too hard? Will I finally get a girlfriend?
A female’s voice shook me out of my stupor.
“Hey! College boy? Can I sit with ya?”
Before I even lifted my eyes, I immediately picked up on her acute southern accent. It wasn’t something I was accustomed to hearing in New England. And why was she calling me ‘college boy’? She was in college too, right? Well, I had certainly hoped so.
“College boy?” I laughed a bit.
She must’ve taken my laugh as a yes, because she sat down across from me. Then she said, “Yeah, you’re in college, and you’re a boy. At least I think so.”
“Hey, I’m the manliest man you’ll ever see!”
Oh god, Desmond, what are you saying?! You sound like such an idiot in front of this girl. Your sarcasm is going to be misunderstood! I thought.
To my relief, I saw a reserved grin take shape across her mouth. I took a mental note of the scene in front of me for my future reference. It was clear that she was much taller than me. We were both sitting on somewhat high stools. I would imagine most average people’s feet would be quite far from the ground. The thing that rang the alarm bell in my brain was that her feet grazed the floor. And she didn’t appear to be stretching in the slightest.
Further still, she was looking down at me. She visibly had to tilt her chin down to look at me. From an outsider’s view, we probably looked ridiculous. If I had to guess, my head was level with her chest, which I quickly noticed had a significant bust.
Then I noticed her broad shoulders. They weren’t twice as wide as mine, but it was close. I also imagined what I would look like if I put on her Georgetown shirt. Oh god, it would probably be at my knees. The neck hole would easily be large enough to stretch around my shoulders. And her jeans! If I put them on, they would be up to my nipples! I began to ask myself, is this girl a freaking giantess?
Now I was freaking out. When we inevitably stood up, the size difference would be downright comical. I knew I was short but wow, she was out of this world tall!
As usual, I was being consumed by my harebrained thoughts, so I did my best to push my apparent obsession with this girl’s height to the side. It was a hefty task because literally everything she did made me think of just how frighteningly huge she was. Just her simply raising her fork to her mouth was distracting to me. It drew attention to her endlessly long arms going up to her absurdly high mouth. After her first forkful, she asked my name, and I, in turn, asked the same.
“I’m Jaclyn. Call me Jackie if ya like.”
“I’ve always liked that name.”
Damn it, Des, you’re showing your hand too early! Slow down with the flirting!
“Oh really? Thanks! I guess it’s luck o’ the draw. Nobody gets to pick their name.”
That gave me a springboard to launch a conversation, “So if you got to choose your name, what would you choose?”
She took her chin in her hand, and said, “Ooooh, that’s a hard one!”
Jesus Christ, this girl is so fuckin’ cute, I can’t even handle it.
“Well, do you wanna hear what I would’ve been named if it was up to me?”
Jackie put both her elbows on the table with her hands on her cheeks. The way she looked at me in that moment made me feel so good. Her eyes were wide and full of genuine interest in what I had to say. It was as if she was on the edge on her seat for every single sentence I uttered.
“Of course! Tell me!”
She looked at me funny. I let it linger, but I couldn’t keep a straight face much longer. I started giggling. It took her a second, but she laughed too.
“No yeah, I like my name,” I said, “My parents did a good job with that.”
She sat back up in her chair, which made me feel small all over again. I instinctively straightened my body to appear even a little bit taller.
“My name would be something with an ‘a’ at the end. Something like ‘Rebecca’ or ‘Carla’ or ‘Amanda’.”
I gagged loudly upon hearing her say ‘Amanda’. What were the odds of her stumbling upon ‘Amanda’? There are thousands of girl names that end in ‘a’ that are not Amanda. All I wanted to do was forget about my evil sister.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
“Yeah, yeah, just uh… not Amanda,” I mumbled.
“It’s my sister’s name. She can be kind of... what’s the word? Bitchy.” That was an understatement.
Nonetheless, her face soured. It was understandable, what was supposed to say in this sort of situation. She didn’t know my sister, and she didn’t know me. For all she knew, I was exaggerating. I knew I quickly had to salvage this. “What I meant to say is, you are the exact opposite of my sister. And believe me, that is a compliment.”
“You’ve known me for five minutes; how do you know we’re opposite?”
Crap, how am I going to explain this without divulging extremely embarrassing details about how my younger sister utterly dominates me at every turn?
“She’s very domineering, you know? Always in my face, barking orders and insults at me. And she’s just unpleasant to be around. Not the vibe I get from you.”
Perfect! I kept it vague enough, so she didn’t have any real idea of how thoroughly my sister controlled me. And to put a cherry on top, she beamed at the obvious compliment I paid her. This was going extraordinarily well.
“So, what’s the dream, Des? Why are ya here?” she asked me, finally moving the topic away from my wretched sister.
I explained that I wanted to be a lawyer, and how I was currently in pre-law.
“Yeah, but what’s the dream? Like, are ya gonna be some hot-shot lawyer for Wall St. bankers, or are ya gonna be a defense attorney?”
It occurred to me then and there that I didn’t have an answer to that question. I was doing law because my father was a lawyer and I assumed it was a good career path. I was smart enough to do it, so why not? But maybe I was missing something.
“I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it, Jackie. Do you have a dream?”
Without a moment of hesitation, she said, “I want to be a story-teller. I’m gonna be a journalism major.”
“Wow, that is so cool! Journalism is pretty important if you ask me.”
“It’s the thing that prevents the people in power from running wild with it. I view it as a noble cause. I want to tell people what they need to know, but make my stories entertaining at the same time.”
She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do. There must’ve been bliss in having a plan. I was going into college blind, not knowing what I truly wanted to make of myself. I loved her focus and idealism. Her incredible passion was ultimately the thing that made me want to befriend her. Perhaps she could inspire me to be more than I was now.
“So, are you gonna try to get on the Capitol Hill beat? I mean, we are in Washington.”
“That’s the dream,” she said.
“Hey, I guarantee you that in four years from now, your dream will be a reality.”
Dude, you don’t even know her! How are you going to predict her career path as a freshman? Shit, I am such a dumbass…
“Yeah, well at least I have a dream,” she said with a naughty smile.
"Is that a dig at me?” I laughed.
“A friendly dig, I guess.
“Des, before you can even have a reality, you have to get a dream in your head. I’ve dreamed of myself on Capitol Hill sticking a microphone in congressmen’s faces for years. Don’t just fall into something because it’s what you think you have to do.”
“I will take that under advisement.”
Inexplicably, we both burst out laughing. Maybe it was because I tried to follow up her serious statement that ended up just sounding sarcastic. Or maybe we were just getting too deep for our first conversation, and we both needed to laugh to release some pressure. Either way, it was a cathartic experience a group laugh with her.
After we were done busting a gut, I abruptly changed the topic. I summoned the courage to ask for her number. Instead of asking for my phone, so she could put the number in herself, she grabbed her reporter’s notebook. She wrote it down, ripped off the page, and handed it to me.
“You’re a little old-fashioned, aren’t you?”
“A girl just gave you her number, don’t complain,” she joked.
“Hey, I wasn’t—"
“I know. I have to go to volleyball practice, Desmond. Talk soon, K?”
Volleyball. Who’d’ve thought?
She got down from the stool, and now I could fully appreciate her beautiful figure. She was somehow slender and voluptuous at the same time. But more strikingly, she had to be at least six and a half feet tall.
I didn’t dare get down from my stool. I couldn’t bear a direct height comparison with her. Not yet. I knew it was coming, but not yet. It was nice to retain at least some of my dignity in the face of this amazing woman. I just watched her leave. Her ass filled those jeans so perfectly as it swayed to and fro. I couldn’t help but imagine myself barely filling her jeans. I would most likely be swimming in them.
She was a freak of nature. No, that was the wrong word. She was a goddess. A superb goddess was interested in me, a tiny little hobbit. I know it was cliché, but I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming. I was delighted to know that I was, in fact, experiencing a real-life event.
When I said none of my first days compared to my first day of college, it wasn’t because I was moving away from home, or because I had bawled into my mother’s arms. It was because of a girl named Jackie.