By Mackenzie Rossero, The Miami Student
Caroline was only at Notre Dame to see her sister for the weekend. Back at Miami, parents were infiltrating Oxford for Parents’ Weekend, but Caroline’s parents were out of state visiting her other sister. Desperate to spend Parents’ Weekend with some family, Caroline crossed state lines and drove to Northern Indiana.
It was nearly 11 p.m. and Caroline was four shots and a mixed drink deep. She was entering the drunk-texting danger zone.
Caroline was attending her first dorm party, and a boy had been following her around all night. He was also visiting Notre Dame, but from the University of Cincinnati. UC Boy was nice enough to talk to, and maybe make out with, but she wasn’t actually interested. She had a boy back home.
Well, he wasn’t really her boy, per se. But a boy. A boy she liked — a lot.
“Wanna get out of here?” UC Boy asked.
Caroline looked at him quizzically. “You don’t go here. Where would we go?”
Confused, UC Boy paused. Caroline left to find her sister.
This boy just asked me to leave with him, Caroline typed as she walked. She nearly dropped her phone before finally clicking the blue “send” button on her iPhone. The contact was titled “Jack calc.”
Caroline quickly got a response: Are you going?
She huffed. No! I like someone from Miami.
The response? Cool.
Confused, Caroline put her phone back into a pocket. Didn’t he know? Didn’t Jack know that it was him?
Caroline had met Jack last fall when they sat next to each other in Calculus 1. Halfway through the semester, Caroline spilled coffee down her shirt.
“You’re a mess,” he had told her, before getting up and returning with a handful of napkins.
That was when it started and now, a year later, they had weekly Tuesday lunch dates and were on a 90-day Snapchat streak. They had kissed, but only drunkenly at Brick Street. It was slow-going to be sure, but it was going. That was all that mattered to Caroline.
But still, she was dumbfounded. Didn’t he know?
There’s a guy I like like at Miami, Caroline texted again, using the middle school repetition of “like” to convey her seriousness. He’s at Miami and I like him.
I’m going to bed, came the response. Goodnight.
Looking over the text messages the next morning, Caroline was sure that Jack had misunderstood her.
The thought made her laugh. In her mind, there was never anyone else.
The following Tuesday, Jack was waiting at their usual table in Armstrong. It was only a two-seater and they had to move to a larger table to accommodate the friend Caroline had brought along. She couldn’t face Jack alone, and her friend was the perfect buffer for the awkwardness that lurked between them.
Their lunch was full of chatter, jokes and kind-hearted teasing. On the surface, lunch was normal and Jack was normal. But Caroline was not.
She just wanted to grab his face and tell him, make him understand that that guy that she “like liked” was him. His ignorance was still mind-boggling. How did he not know?
Watching Jack from across the table at Armstrong, Caroline thought about doing just that. But she was afraid of what he would say. She couldn’t do it, not right now.
But maybe next Tuesday, she would. Maybe.