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September 04, 2013 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-04

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7Wednesday, September 4, 2013 // The Statement B

Do you have a girlfriend?
by Andrew Weiner

we want you ann arbor affairs: a thing by carlinaduan

Welcome back to The Statement. This semester, we have
one major goal: to put you in the magazine. You'll notice the
new "Statement on the Street" section, which takes us out
of our newsroom cave at 420 Maynard and to the streets to
hear your voice. And we want to hear back from you. Share
your opinion on our content, and let us know what gets you
thinking on campus. You can even write a Personal State-
ment to share your own experiences with our readers. So
you - person excited to hold the first issue of the semester
- comment, tweet, e-mail or snail mail us what you want
to read and say. This is your chance to make a statement, so
speak up - we're listening.
The Statement Staff

I bumped into him on my way
back from a club meeting. The
October moon glazed over the
street. I barely made out his face
in the dark.
Tentatively, I called out his
name.
He paused, then walked closer.
Behind us, a streetlamp beat out
its own steady light. His eyebrows
kicked upwards in recognition.
"Carlina! How've you been?" We
chatted briefly. No, he wasn't
in school this semester. He was
working at a restaurant in town.
He'd be traveling abroad in the
winter.
The talk ended after we'd
exchanged numbers, and I hus-
tled back to South Quad to gush
to my roommate over how cute
he was.
A few weeks later, he texted
me: "Sooo... we should hang
out."
And so, I found myself in
Kerrytown in early November,
drinking hot chocolate with a
cute boy and blabbing earnest-
ly. More of a friend-date than
anything, I convinced myself.
Until he texted me later that
night: "you're awesome Car-
lina. Like really. we should chill
again soon." My heart winked
for a tiny second. I analyzed the
text over dinner with my friend
Andrew. "He's definitely inter-
ested," Andrew declared, stirring
a watery bowl of lentil soup. Still,
I wasn't sure.
I hung out with him a few more
times that month before I real-
ized how much I was beginning
to like him. It seemed that I had
finally found a guy who got it.
How to listen and absorb, how
to be fascinated by the world,
how to be sexy and modest at the
same time. When I went home
one weekend, I told my sister he

had potential to be The One. "I've
never felt like this before with
anybody," I exclaimed. "I just like
him so much."
He kissed me over Thanks-
giving break. A small kiss. He
had to duck down, tap his mouth
to mine, standing beneath the
streetlamp by his car. I adored
him: his cheeks, the Angela Davis
books scattered in rectangular
piles all over his room, the blonde
splash of hair nestled in the cen-
ter of his head. I thought I was on
my way to being in love.
And then, it stopped. He

unleashing my inner-emo while
staring at a blank ceiling and lis-
tening to Bon Iver. I wanted him
to be The One. Or if not THE One,
thenA One. I loved his hands, and
his eyebrows and the stupid dog
hairs on his shirt. I loved how he
surprised me, constantly, with his
brain.
For six months, we exchanged
the occasional Facebook mes-
sage or email. His messages were
always simple, short. Nice. When
I left for my spring semester in
New Hampshire, he told me to
expect a letter. I spent six weeks
in New Hampshire painfully
checking the mail every day,
awaiting an international post-
age-marked envelope that never
came.
If one flavor of love is yearning,
then I suppose I did love him. For
half a year, I wanted him to think
of me as the girl he might want to
love back, time given. But I also
wanted, desperately, for us to
keep on having our cool and calm
conversations in comfort with-
out the wrenching anxiety that
came with waiting for his replies
back, his affirmation. My two
wants seemed incompatible with
each other. "Love" versus Friend.
"Thing" versus Friendship.
When he finally came home
over the summer, we split a sand-
wich at Jimmy Johns and read
astronomy books at Dawn Tread-
er. Neither of us mentioned our
"thing." But he told me I was an
important friend. "I've learned a
lot from you," he said, "I'm grate-
ful." I never told him how much,
exactly, I thought I'd been in love
with him. In a way, it didn't mat-
ter anymore. I still loved him, but
it was a love that wasn't curried
with demand. He gave me a letter
he meant to send me a month ago.
It was signed, "Your friend."

stopped calling me as frequently.
Wouldn't reply to my texts for
days. Acted uncomfortable and
distant when we hung out. The
confession came past midnight,
both of us nested on a curb by
East Quad. "I'm about to leave in
less than a month, and we got into
this so fast... too fast, almost," he
blurted, "I just don't think this is
feasible, given the time that we
have."
When he finally left, I cried. I
cried at the Diag, running into
a friend who fetched me toilet
paper from the men's room at
Mason Hall. Cried in my room,

The bus is packed, but we're the only
people talking. Maize and blue
freshmen stare at us with wide eyes.
I'm red, visibly sweating and incoherently
mumbling the words I so badly don't want
to say.
Rewind 20 minutes.
Surface-level, Taylor Lewan is intimidat-
ing. "I'm just there to be big and hit guys,"
the football team star lineman has told me
before abouthis football skills. At 315 pounds
he's a hummer H2 of a guy, and standing
anywhere near him is dwarfing - and I'm
6-feet-3-inches tall.
The Michigan Man incarnate and I walk
to catch a bus from North Campus to Cen-
tral. "So, umm, you play ... football?" It's
a stupid question that I already know the
answer to, but as friends and failed dates
will confirm, one-on-one situations with
men I don't know well are not my strong suit.
Taylor Lewan doubles the usual anxiety.
While I avoid eye contact, Taylor is
friendly and normal as he casually describes
turning down his first-round NFL Draft
pick - read: fame and fortune - to finish
up with Blue. College is pretty fun, it turns
out, and he isn't done with Ann Arbor just
yet. As we walk down Bonisteel, the fresh-
men stare, incredulous that he exists outside
of the Big House. Taylor waves at one or two
with a friendly laugh, much to their embar-
rassment.
Like them, I have forgotten how to act
like a person in his presence. Taylor tries to
spark conversation, but I can't seem to rattle
off more than a few words at no more than a
whisper to any of his attempts. He told me
weeks later he couldn't figure out why I dis-
liked him so nugh qtsfiys,t."NoysisqrpIIwas
just straight up terrified of you." Note: Tay-

for had a pet teacup pig, fedora and moped
scooter. Terrifying stuff.
Finally, we board the bus. It's the day of
the last.game of the Final Four. The cam-
pus has been electrified for the last couple
weeks by the success of the men's basket-
ball team, which has made it to the national
championship for the first time in 20 years.
In lieu of shuttle buses to Atlanta, the Ath-
letic Department is showing the game on big
screens at the Crisler Center. Slack-jawed
and silent, the kids heading to Crisler stare
at Taylor and me - read: Taylor - as we talk.
I start to act like a human being again. He
speaks at a normal volume on the quiet bus.
I'm not sure if he notices that all conversa-
tion has stopped to eavesdrop on his, or if it's
such a commonplace occurrence that he's
learned to feign ignorance.
The bus curves down Fuller. The con-
versation takes the turn I was hoping it
wouldn't. Taylor tells me about how his
girlfriend - Alex, who's very sweet and co-
owner of the teacup pig - is the sister of his
teammate Drew Dileo and of the occasional
awkwardness of that arrangement. At this
point, the freshmen's eyes are heat lamps in
my direction. I begin to panic sensing the
question I can see coming as clearly as the
cars headed toward us one lane over.
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
I lift my sleeve to my forehead to wipe
away sweat as I stammer sounds too inco-
herent to qualify even as syllables. Somehow
the words fall from my mouth at a nearly
inaudible volume.
My anxiety level is better fit for a life-
threatening situation.
Without a beat of pause: "Oh my god, I'm
so,sorryJ uged,gy as,anadjective before, I
totally shouldn't -" I wave my hands for him

to stop, it's cool, it's cool. I'm not offended,
and, hey, let's talk quieter! The adjective use
before we got on the bus had barely regis-
tered with me, but he hadn't forgotten. His
reaction tackles me, I nearly fall over as the
bus stops at an intersection and deservedly
feel like an asshole for making assumptions
about someone I barely knew at that point
based on a few keywords: big, football,
Southern.
"You know,
I've never
met a gay per-
son before, I M
think." I skip
the pedantic
rant about how
that's statisti-
cally impos-
sible. Instead
we talk - he's
legitimately
interested. Is
it hard to meet
guys? Do my 9
parents know?
As my pro- -7
fuse sweating
subsides and
I really hope I 8
put on deodor-
ant that morn- 9 3
ing, I answer.
I answer as 5
easily as if he
had asked me
if I'm Cana- 8 6
dian - I'm not,
thank God -
or aboutbeing
Jewish. Smil-

ing since his initial reaction, I can't help but
laugh at the absurdity of the setting, actors
and dialogue of this scene.
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
The question doesn't really scare me axp
more. The bus keeps rolling forward.
Andrew Weiner is a Public Policy senior.
-Ia'

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