College Visit Ch. 01: The Beginning
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Warning: there is a very long build-up to this -that’s just kind of how it played out!
It seems like it’s way too soon, but my son turned 18 this fall, and we’ve been visiting colleges for the last three months. I’m a teacher, and Jay is still in school, so we take road-trips every couple of weeks, leaving Friday afternoon and spending some or all of a Saturday touring schools and checking out the cities and towns around them. My wife and daughter stay home, usually, leaving the traveling to us guys.
Two weeks ago, we were in Maine. We hit three schools in two days and limped home exhausted. Last weekend, he had an overnight “experience” at Tufts. To make things easy, we left at the crack of dawn Saturday and I booked a hotel room nearby. My cousins live just outside Boston, but I wasn’t in the mood for a visit-I just wanted to get him there and then veg out and enjoy the city while Jay was doing his thing. I found a hotel in Cambridge near MIT and Kendall Square and booked a room with a king-sized bed and a view of the Charles.
We made good time after our early start, and had time to get breakfast before pulling to the parking garage at Tufts. We met his group at the Admissions Office and got the rundown: the first hour was a tour for both prospective students and their parents. Two well-spoken, perky students got us into line and led us all over campus. As you’d expect, we schlepped around through the dining hall, the student center, the spacious Tisch library, a generic lecture hall, a freshman “community,” a dining hall, and a big old traditional dormitory as well. All very nice, all very impressive to the high school students.
As for me, I was just having fun scoping the cute college girls. There is something free and sexy about young women when they get to create themselves in college-a confidence that I seldom see at my job working with high school students. It seems like everywhere I looked, I saw young women bursting with health and burgeoning sexuality-I was starting to envy Jay his opportunity! I only wished it was warmer-the shorts and tank-tops we saw down in North Carolina had been replaced by jeans and sweats and the ubiquitous (but amazing) yoga pants.
The tour was pretty much the same as all the others. However, as we rambled along through Harleston Hall-the sophomore dorm-I got a nice surprise. One of the rooms that was open for the tour belonged to two girls-Lexi and Amara according to the white board stuck on the outside of the door. It was small and neat with some pretty decorations. However, it did look like the others we had seen, and since it was already crowded, I simply ducked my head inside and then stepped out into the hallway.
While I stood there half listening, a group of girls came up the staircase chattering noisily. They quieted right down when they saw me and a few other parents in the doorway, then scattered into different rooms. My eyes followed their progress, taking in quick impressions of tight asses in jeans and yoga pants, fresh young faces, ponytails and hoodies. One girl stopped close by, however, and my eyes came back to her. I glanced subtly down at her Ugg slippers, then followed up the sweet curves of her leggings-I LOVE those cutout panels!-took in a hint of firm breasts beneath a pale blue Tufts sweatshirt, and finally reached her smiling face, framed as it was by a soft fall of light brown hair caught up in a low ponytail.
“Hi, Mr. Robertson!” she chirped happily.
Seeing people out of context always throws me off, but after only a brief pause the memory hit me. English class. Smart, quiet, cute senior. Alexandra. Lexi. Like on the door.
“Hey there, Lexi!” I said with a smile. “I had forgotten you were up here!”
“Yup! What are you doing?”
I nodded my head at the tour group emerging. “Jay is here for the overnight experience. I’m just here for the mandatory tour.”
“Oh, right,” she replied. “My room is part of the tour!” Like many young women, her voice rose at the end of each phrase. With some girls, everything sounds like a question. From Lexi, however, it just sounded enthusiastic, and I liked it. I nodded in response.
“I just figured that out from the door sign,” I said.
“Where else do you guys have to go?” she asked.
“This floor is the last stop for the parents,” I told her. “I’m not sure where they take them next.”
“I think they probably spend the night in Carmichael Hall-it’s one of the big freshman dorms.”
“Sounds right,” I admitted. “I didn’t pay attention to that part.”
“Checking out all the college chicks, Mr. R?”
Caught off-guard by her comment, ataköy escort I gulped somewhat guiltily before I mumbled something about having been on a lot of college tours lately. It wasn’t much, but it seemed to satisfy her.
The tour guide led the group out and I flattened myself against the wall beside Lexi so they could pass me. Jay raised an eyebrow as he filed past, but I held up one finger and nodded for him to go on ahead. They paused to talk about the lounge at the end of the hallway.
“Besides,” I continued with more composure once they were out of earshot, “I’m a teacher and a potential customer, not some guy hanging around scoping out hot college chicks.”
Lexi smiled knowingly. “Which ones did you think were hot?” she asked. “Any of my friends?”
I think I blushed. I know I stammered. Lexi’s eyes bored into mine. Remember when I said college women were more free than the high school girls I was accustomed to? Well, Lexi was a living demonstration of that highly charged energy.
Nicely, however, she let me off the hook.
“I didn’t mean to put you on the spot,” she said more kindly. “All of us in your class thought you were soooooo good-looking-I just wanted to see what you would say!”
“Well, this isn’t high school now, is it?”
That moment hung between us, intense but not uncomfortable. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Sadly, the tour group had exhausted the possibilities of the lounge area and was gathering at the elevators.
“Well,” I said with a wry smile, “it was great to see you!”
“Yeah…” Lexi responded thoughtfully.
“Is there somewhere I can buy you a cup of coffee so we can catch up for real?” I asked her.
Her bright smile returned. “Yeah!” she chirped. “Meet me downstairs when you’re done and we can walk down to True Grounds!”
“Deal. See you in about half an hour.”
“OK! I’ll be in the lobby!”
With a few quick steps and a smug expression, I caught the tail end of the tour group entering the elevator. I reunited with Jay in the lobby and met his questioning glance with a steady face.
“Sorry, bud-former student. That was her room we were gawking at, so I felt like I had to say hi.”
“Cool. We have to go back to Dowling Hall now to find out what’s up for the rest of the day.”
“Perfect. Let’s go!”
Chatting about what we had seen, we all made our way along the twisting paths and across the grassy center of campus to the Admissions Office. I was pleased to see him so excited, and I even forgot for a while the lecherous thoughts I had been entertaining.
A crisp, perky female voice cut through our conversation.
“OK parents-that’s it for you! From here, we’re taking our experience groups over to the freshman dorm for some activities. You can get to the parking garage right across that pedestrian bridge. We’ll meet back here at 10 AM tomorrow!”
I gave Jay a half-hug and wished him luck. He grinned back excitedly and shouldered his gym bag, filtering toward the tour guides with the other students. As the parents drifted away, I tried to be nonchalant as I did a 180 and headed back through campus. Once I was around a corner, I sped up. Now I did feel like a dirty old man, walking across a college campus for a rendezvous with a 20-year old woman I knew back in high school.
It’s pretty normal for me to run into former students out in the real world. It’s also normal to have them come back and visit at school. On occasion, I’ve had coffee at a Starbucks near the high school with one or more graduates if they’re around. None of that covered my current situation. I was alone in Boston (OK, Medford!) and getting ready to take a young woman somewhere for a cup of coffee and a chat. That by itself was pushing the boundaries of normal teacher-graduate relations. What made my pulse race more than the walking, though, was the powerful attraction I was feeling for Lexi. Add to that her comment about thinking I was “soooo good-looking” and the brief but intense connection that hovered between us in the hallway a few minutes earlier and I knew I was acting on an unprofessional and probably idiotic impulse. So I walked a little faster.
When I opened the door of Harleston Hall, Lexi was on a bench just inside, deeply involved with her phone. The gust of cool air caught her attention, though, and she looked up. When her eyes met mine, a smile began in there and spread across her face-a smug and happy smile. She stood up and tucked her phone away in the pocket of her puffer coat.
“Right on time, Mr. R!” she purred.
“You know how I feel about showing up bakırköy escort tardy, right?” I said.
“Yeah, but that was for class. This is for…coffee.”
That was not an uncertain pause. That was a provocative pause if ever I heard one! I decided I could be a little more blunt myself-in fact, I was interested to see how far she would take this.
“Let’s go find some coffee, then, and see what happens, shall we?”
I raised one eyebrow questioningly and half-turned to hold the door for her. Lexi’s grin widened, and as she stepped outside, she brushed past me closer than was necessary. Her arm and shoulder slid across the front of my jacket, and for a brief moment her hip grazed my thighs. Side by side, we trotted down the steps and onto the path.
As we walked, Lexi kept up a running monologue that should have been part of the tour. That’s the field house where her friend got locked in by accident. That’s the Arts Center where she practiced her cello. Lots of people just go there to get high and fool around in the practice rooms. On and on she went, and I half-listened and half-admired her sparkling eyes, creamy complexion, and the soft bounce of her light brown hair.
When we reached the edge of campus, we crossed Powderhouse Square and got onto Broadway. As soon as we got to the sidewalk, Lexi tucked her hand inside my elbow and hooked her arm through mine. She glanced up at me, her eyes shining, and I squeezed her arm between mine and my side to signal my approval. She grinned even more broadly and grabbed her wrist with her left hand, bringing her body closer alongside.
“Sounds like a great place to go to school,” I said to her as we resumed walking.
“It is. I love being here, even if it’s not in Boston proper. Everything is so close, and I can get around and do whatever I want! You should totally send your son here if he gets in!”
“That’s every parents dream,” I said facetiously. “I want Jay running all over Boston doing whatever he wants!”
Lexi giggled in response. “Stop being a dad, will you?”
“Well, that’s pretty easy to do!” I exclaimed. “Here I am strolling down Broadway to get some coffee and I’m definitely not feeling like a dad right now.”
“Good…cuz you’re with ME and you’re not my dad and you’re not my teacher. You’re just someone I want to hang out with, okay?”
With that, Lexi leaned her head briefly on my shoulder as we walked contentedly down the sidewalk. My heart beat faster, and I was acutely aware of her lithe young body next to mine. A few blocks later, we ducked into the warmth of the coffee house. When our double cappuccinos were made, Lexi led me into the seating area where she snagged a small table by the window. She dragged the two chairs side by side so we could both face the street and enjoy the sunshine.
“Is this OK?” she asked somewhat shyly.
I felt warm inside for a number of reasons all at once. She wanted to know if she could sit close beside me-hell yes! I also guessed that she was thinking of me in a different way-was this too public a spot to be sitting close to a former student? Not a problem so far from home.
“It’s great,” I told her seriously. Her smile returned. We took off our coats and draped them on the back of the chairs, then sat down. As she stirred her foam into the rich coffee below, her knee rested comfortably against mine.
After a minute, Lexi broke the silence.
“Did you know that I had a crush on you when I was in your class?” she asked softly.
I turned to look at her, but she was looking down, still stirring.
“No…I didn’t know that,” I told her. “But I would have been flattered.”
“Yeah, right,” she said, looking up at me. “I’m sure all the girls you teach felt like I did…like you were smart and funny and nice and a good teacher…”
“Don’t forgot ‘soooooo good-looking!'” I teased.
“And good-looking and kinda sexy in a grown-up kind of way,” she finished.
“I didn’t know, Lexi…but I would have been flattered, for real!”
“Why is that?”
“Because I can’t let myself be attracted to my students, but I can see when someone is smart and nice and beautiful and funny, and you were all that and a good student as well.”
Lexi’s eyes dropped to her coffee again, but a smile tugged at the corners of her lips.
“You thought I was beautiful?”
“Shit, Lexi…you ARE beautiful. I just can’t be attracted to my students!”
“Good thing I’m not your student anymore, isn’t it?”
“Right now, it’s the best thing I can imagine,” I said earnestly.
She leaned her shoulder into my arm and let her head rest on my shoulder.
“That’s nice to hear,” she said simply.
Neither of us said anything for a while, but I was once again conscious of everywhere her body was touching mine. The soft pressure of her leg, the hand curled around my elbow, and the fall of hair that rested on my shoulder concealing her face filled me not just with arousal, but with something deeper. Not love, of course, but more than a passing attraction. I actually felt at peace and connected with this young woman I had known at another time and place. It just felt right.
Clearly, Lexi was thinking along similar lines. Her dark blue eyes held mine for a moment.
“God…” she said, “I could stay like this all day!”
“I like that idea,” I murmured. “But,” I said in a firmer voice, “I think we can do better than that!”
“What did you have in mind?” she asked, lifting her head and turning enough to see my face.
“Spend the day with me. We can’t sit in a coffee shop all day-we’re in fucking Boston! Come with me for a while.”
“I have to change,” she said uncertainly. “I just went to breakfast with my friends because of the tour…” she began.
“That’s fine. I have to get the car. Let’s walk back and do what we have to do and then go have a nice day, okay?”
Her smile lit up her whole face.
“I would love that!” she blurted.
Her enthusiasm was infectious. “I’m going to love it, too!” I assured her happily.
We stood up quickly, our cappuccinos forgotten. With our plan half-formed, Lexi was all business. We strode back toward campus eagerly, and when we got to Powderhouse Square, she gave me directions.
“Go that way and get your car. When you get out of the garage, come down Lower Campus Road and I’ll meet you right beside the dorm, okay?”
“How long do you need?”
“I just want to change so I’m ready for whatever!”
“How’s 20 minutes, then?”
As I settled into my car, I took a moment to reflect on the situation. It had all seemed so natural and easy and the reality of taking Lexi out on the town felt right as well. Where was my conscience? I knew I would have to check in with my wife at some point. I also knew that I wanted to end up back at my hotel room and throw Lexi onto that king-sized bed! I was 99% sure Lexi had the same thing in mind, so I put the car in back into park and ran to the trunk. I shed my sweatshirt and pulled on a cashmere sweater from my overnight bag. My sneakers and socks went into the trunk as well, and I dug out a casual pair of loafers. A quick finger-comb looking at my reflection in the tinted windows, a touch of after-shave lotion even though I hadn’t shaved, and I felt ready to take her out on the town.
With a twinge of conscience, I texted my wife before I left the garage.
“Jay seems to be having a good time. They just headed off to the dorm. I’m gonna go check into the hotel, and head downtown and get some lunch in Chinatown”
“OK, babe. Keep me posted. Love ya”
“I will. Love ya, too”
When I pulled up beside the dorm, I had to do a double-take. In a few short minutes, Lexi was transformed! From a typical, beautiful young college girl in sweats, she had come out to meet me as a classically beautiful young woman. She had on slim jeans, low leather boots, a long soft sweater, and a bomber jacket. Her hair looked great as well-smooth and glossy and twisted up into a chignon at the nape of her neck. I was intensely happy that I had changed!
With quick steps, Lexi walked around the car and opened the back door. I turned to see a soft leather bag with long handles thump into the backseat. Then the passenger door opened and she folded herself gracefully into the seat. A subtle, seductive fragrance filled the car and she sat perfectly still for a moment.
“God, Lexi-you look amazing!” I said with a smile.
Her smile returned full force at the compliment, and she reached out to stroke my arm.
“You look pretty damn good, too!” she chirped. “Is that cashmere?”
“It is. You like?”
“I LOVE cashmere-it feels so soft against me.”
I can’t recall all the thoughts that flickered across my mind at that moment, but I’m sure you can imagine the obvious. That was not the moment to pursue them, however, so I moved our outing along briskly.
“So where would you like to go today?”
“Oh, man…anywhere! I just want to go out!”
“Have you done the whole ‘Boston’ thing?” I asked her.
“Not really…I’ve been downtown and to Fenway and to Newbury Street, but that’s about it.”
“Like I said before,” I assured her, “we can do a lot better than that!”
Lexi reached back and quickly buckled herself in.
“I’m all yours!” she said with a very grown-up smile.
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