Brother and sister, exposed. But not in the way you think

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For me, college had to be at least a thousand miles from home. I wanted to be far enough from my family to truly be on my own, not tempted to go home every weekend to do laundry. I wanted to start fresh, different than who I was in high school. I wanted to be less of a geeky high-school guy and more of a suave college guy. And yeah, I wanted to improve my chances to hook up with college women.

After two years in college, I can say: It worked, sort of. I got a different haircut, wore something nicer than T-shirts, and got rid of the beat up boat shoes I wore every day in high school. But I also learned that I’m not cut out for the hookup scene. I envisioned picking up a different woman every weekend, but it didn’t turn out that way at all.

I met a girl, Emma, on my very first day of college. We hit it off, and we went out until the next April. History repeated itself the next year. Skye and I met in September, and we decided to call it quits just a week ago. The stress of final exams and the upcoming summer break didn’t help this relationship, which by then was obviously not working. I’ll spare you the gory details of these breakups, but I can admit there was blame on both sides.

Only once, between Emma and Skye, did I experience what you might call a hookup. After losing Emma, I didn’t feel like going anywhere or being with anyone. But my roommate convinced me to go to a party with two other buddies. I expected to accomplish nothing but drowning my sorrows. Instead, I struck up a conversation with a woman on the couch next to me, and after three beers and some serious flirting, we found our way to an empty bedroom. That night remains the only time in my life that I had sex with a woman I’d just met and never saw again.

That bedroom imprinted a vivid memory on me. The sex, sure. After, even more so. I remember lying in bed with her, our naked bodies tangled in sheets dotted with our combined fluids. I had a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that I had enough appeal and charisma, or whatever, to pick up a woman just like that. But besides the woman, I also picked up my own dragging self-confidence. Life was too short to spend so much time being depressed about Emma.

Another thought intruded that night, and it’s the reason I remember it so well. My hand rested idly on her breast, feeling the warmth of her body and the steady rise and fall of her chest. I took in the look and feel of that breast, recalled her reaction to my tongue, so different than I’d experienced before. The novelty and excitement were unquestionably arousing, but I couldn’t help thinking, I don’t know this woman.

It’s how I figured out I’m not a hookup kind of guy. I enjoyed every second of the sex, but it’s so much better when it goes along with intimacy, devotion, commitment. Love.

It doesn’t sound like the right attitude for a freewheeling college dude, especially one who’s newly single again. But I am who I am, take me or leave me.

This year-old hookup was on my mind because I was dejected about breaking up with Skye. Idly I thought about whether to try for another, but even if I wanted to, I didn’t have time. After finals I had one day to move out of the dorm, and the next day I hopped on a plane back to Vermont. It was a decent time to go home, a natural break in both classes and my relationship.

In some ways I looked forward to spending the summer at home with my family, but in other ways, not. My parents still lived in the same house where I grew up, and whenever I was home from college they treated me like I was still in high school. They didn’t know the guy with the new suave college persona, so they still treated me like the same geeky kid.

My flight was the cheapest I could find, and consequently it arrived at 2:30 in the morning, an hour when not much is going on at the airport. Right before the escalator to go down to baggage claim, I spied my little sister, waiting patiently to give me a ride home. I smiled in spite of myself. She had on a sideways grin, and I knew she’d be happy to see me.

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