On College Loneliness and My First College Boyfriend

Going into my freshman year, I was told that college can be a lonely time for us adolescents. Had you known me exactly one month ago, I would have disagreed: I had a rich, popular boyfriend, went to parties on the weekends, and had friends galore. If you had asked me a month ago from tomorrow, I would have one-thousand percent concurred.

Yes. Tomorrow is the one-month anniversary of when my first college boyfriend called it quits with me. I lost a boyfriend in a week. It’d be one thing if this was middle-school– a week feels like an eternity when you’re 12– but I somehow got a boy sick of me in one week. Seven days.

His name, you ask? Nicholas Henry Holiday.

He’s exactly what you’d expect someone named Nicholas Henry Holiday from the upperclass suburbs of the Northwest to look like: skinny, tall, brunette. Somedays, his clothing would cost more than what I pay for college tuition (it’s worth mentioning, though, that I’m on super heavy financial aid), and he had just purchased brand new bedazzled Cartier earrings for himself.

I severely advised against him punching holes into his ears. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of flashy earrings, and I didn’t think he’d look as good with gold and diamonds dangling from his lobes as he thought he would. I think that’s when he realized he liked me.

Everyone in Rooftop Mell had been encouraging him to get his ears pierced, and I was the first and only person in his life who gave him my genuine, unfiltered opinion.

He appreciated it, respected it, and even began to change his mind.

That was the preface. This is half of the story of how I got Nick Holiday overwhelmed by me as a girlfriend in seven days, and how I lost him as a friend in three weeks. The other half of the story requires more in depth context about a boy I knew named Gabby back home. It’s a crucial detail, so I’ll inevitably talk about Gabby briefly, but the nuances of that is for another time. My roommate story was split up into weekdays, but this I’m going to split up into three parts:

THE PROMISE, THE DRUGS, AND THE LONELY

Let us commence!

THE PROMISE

Nick Holiday was the last person I learned the name of in my friend group. It was already a few weeks into the school year, so it was too late to ask, but he hadn’t really made any sort of impression in my life. At first glance, he had a baby face that possessed a child-like innocence to it; the type of boy who couldn’t harm a fly.

That’s why I was shocked when, one Saturday night a few weeks into the school year, my friends told me Nick Holiday was in Ethan’s room “super effed up.” I walk into 420 to find him drunk and high out of his mind.

“Don’t hook up with people if you’re going to catch feelings,” he chanted. The girl he had been seeing had just broken it off with him. Given how our relationship developed after, I should have given his advice more merit. Though he remembered none of it– how my friends and I pulled his designer cardigan off of his shoulders, how I stayed by his side as he slowly fell asleep on Ethan’s carpet, how I lifted his head onto a pillow as he said, “You’re so nice. You didn’t have to do this. Everyone else left me, and you didn’t”– this was the beginning of our friendship.

We started talking more, confiding in each other, and staying up until five in the morning every night in the second floor lounge of Mellwitt. Although he clearly showed interest in me and I’ll admit, I hadn’t exactly liked liked him yet, there was no rush, and I enjoyed his company.

One day we were on the couch, my head on his lap and hands intertwined with his, when I sat up and kissed him. I don’t know why. It was impulsive, I suppose. When it comes to boys, I’ve always made the first move, and every single time I’ve regretted it; Nick Holiday was no different. Immediately, I apologized and went into stressed Eloise mode.

He was confused, and thought that perhaps he had done something wrong, but I assured him that that wasn’t the case at all. I hadn’t had the best experience when it came to boys, and I didn’t want to drag baby-faced Nick Holiday into my overwhelming world of destruction and suffering. That was a bit melodramatic, but I say that hyperbolically to emphasize my point.

When I explained, he seemed even more eager and intrigued.

“I want to be a part of your life.”

“I’m telling you right now, it is a lot.”

“I don’t care. I can do it.”

“You’re going to eat your words.”

“I can do it. I promise.”

THE DRUGS 

I should have seen the red flags from the second we put the label on ourselves. Earlier that day, as our friendship had progressed, I decided it was time to introduce Nick Holiday to my closest friend in college, Christopher Sandwich (I call him Toph for short). To summarize him in a few bullet points, Toph was a Jesus loving Christian who wouldn’t be caught dead swearing and was saving himself for marriage. He was a wholesome fellow from a small town in the Midwest, and one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I knew. I told Nick Holiday that Meeting Toph was like meeting my father.

Excited at the prospect of deepening our relationship, when us four sat down for dinner (Toph and my friend, Chrissy, had tagged along with us) I was enthused to engage Nick Holiday in a different part of my life. My not-quite-boyfriend had only seen me as Luna, someone who sat listening to her friends converse about drugs and insobriety, trying desperately to fit in. At the table with Toph, he’d get to see me shamelessly be Eloise, in Nick Holiday’s words, “discussing things that actually mattered.”

Toph and I argued back and forth about philosophy: can you separate the art from the artist? Nick Holiday just picked at his food and tried to keep up. In order to keep him engaged, I nudged him, asking for his thoughts on something Toph had just said.

He looked at me, then at Toph, then at Chrissy and said, “Sorry. I’m kind of high right now, so I haven’t really been paying attention.”

My face turned bloodshot red. Chrissy and Toph threw me wide-eyed glances as I buried my face into my palms. “Nicholas… When did you even have time to…”

“In Ethan’s room before I left.” Our dinner ended shortly after. At this point, I’m disappointed. Toph and Chrissy walk ahead of my future-boyfriend and me as I prepare myself to scold him.

“What the hell, Nick? I told you this was important to me and–” he cuts me off on the verge of tears.

“I wasn’t actually high. I just wasn’t really listening to the conversation, so I didn’t know what to say.” My sadness turned to anger very quickly. My bad that we weren’t able to keep the Nicholas Henry Holiday entertained for one dinner. God forbid he tried to pay attention to a conversation that was important to the girl he supposedly was crazy about.

Later that day, he would come downstairs to my room in 120, and we would talk about what had happened. I had noticed, as I was explaining my concerns to him, that he seemed to doze off. Turns out, he was three shots deep. He himself admitted that he had no self-control, and I mistook self-awareness for an apology; that was my mistake. After we talked, somehow we decided it’d be best to officially title ourself girlfriend and boyfriend.

I’d find that if he had to choose between alcohol, nicotine, drugs, friends or me, I would never win. I was never his first choice. Don’t date anyone who never makes you their first choice.

Everyday that week I cried. He would ask me out on dates, and then forget. He would promise to stay sober a night, and then I’d find him vomiting inside of a recycling bin. He would say he’s sorry that he couldn’t be there for me.

“I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.”

“Then be there for me!”

“Sorry…”

That night, I took my stuff out of his room.

My friends had begun asking me why I stayed. I knew what he was doing, and yet I still  let myself cry in my room for hours every night. In response, I laughed that it was because of how low my bar for men is, but that’s not the full truth. If I were to lose Nick Holiday, I would lose my one true confidant in my group of friends. He was the only person I felt genuinely safe with in Mellwitt. By then, I’d put up with a lot worse, so dealing with his problems was better than being all alone.

THE LONELY

When Nick Holiday and I got together, I was convinced the problems I was having with my ex-boyfriend Gabby from back home had subsided. Gabby was convinced I was the reason everything in his life went sour, and would harass me everyday about it. Phone calls, text messages, photographs, all sent on the daily to remind me how terrible of a person I am. It had died down after I had stopped talking to Toph’s Irish international roommate, Ruaidhri, but one Thursday, my phone rang with the longest, cruelest, suicide note I’d ever seen. Gabby was actually going to do it.

Naturally, I raced to call the police, and once I made sure that Gabby was safe inside a hospital, I rushed to the comfort of my boyfriend. It was naive, but the romantic side of me was half expecting Nick Holiday to wrap up his dinner, take me somewhere private, and give me a hug. When he didn’t, I solemnly left the cafeteria and went back to my room to sulk.

Gabby didn’t leave me alone after that, and every time he would text me, I’d try to look for anyone who would listen and give me comfort. Often times, that was Nick Holiday. Every time, I would get my romantic hopes up, and every time, I would be disappointed.

Fall break was no exception. Expecting a weekend to hang out and spend some time together, I found myself stood up and sad. Those four days he had acted so weirdly around me– no kissing, or hugging, or hanging out, nada. I pulled him to the side to talk about why he was being so weird. He told me then, that everything in my life had overwhelmed him.

I said I understood. That I was always going to be understanding of him. So, he walked away and that was that. The Luna and Nick Holiday chapter of my life had closed, and I had felt stranded.

What I neglected to mention was how my relationship with him secured my place in Rooftop Mell. If Nicholas Henry Holiday took me seriously, every else had to as well. I didn’t have to separate Luna and Eloise anymore, because Nick Holiday knew both, and appreciated both. It was that whole week that I, for the first time, felt comfortable in school. People weren’t ignoring me when I spoke, and even if everyone were to brush me off, Nick Holiday didn’t, and that was good enough for me. When he broke up with me, and ate his words like I told him he would, it left me feeling entirely alone. Sure, I had Toph and Chrissy, but they lived across campus and carried on with their incredibly busy lives. I was stuck in Mellwitt, facing people I was learning I didn’t really like or get along with. I had already broken my Luna facade, and I couldn’t go back to pretending like I cared about everything they were saying, like I had been doing during the months before. No longer did I feel safe and comfortable with the people whom I lied to myself and called my “friends”, and without Nick, I was facing the world completely and utterly alone.

One thought on “On College Loneliness and My First College Boyfriend

  1. Pingback: Silly Nick Holiday! | Eloise and Cat

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