I just spent a good twenty minutes playing connect four, and I learned something about myself during those twenty minutes: I am rather good at the game.
All strategy games seem to move me in a way such that I have to think about what I’m doing, I have to try or else I’ll lose, and I strongly dislike losing. I’m not uber-competitive, but if I lose to my roommate, she will hold it over my head for weeks to come, which is completely unallowable, right? I just don’t like people telling me I’m bad at something when in reality I’m not.
Wow, I honestly didn’t mean to come off so pompous, but it’s the truth that no one likes to hear; why do people put each other down? Why would you purposefully go out of your way to make someone miserable, to make someone question themselves in a way that cannot be understood? I just don’t like when people do that to me, or others in general, so thereby if I win, I won’t loft it above their heads.
Anyways, all this connects to real life. Connect four has a strong place in my life for more reasons than just the fact that it’s a fantastic game which everyone should play. Last year, in January 2010, my winter ‘sport’ was hiking mountains, hiking in the woods, having snowball fights, playing broomball etc. and it was the best sport to have in the world. At Hogwarts sports are required: you must do something remotely athletic every trimester unless you don’t plan to graduate, you do community service or as in my current case, are quite injured. So last term, hiking was my sport.
We spent two nights in a faculties summer house up next to a mountain in Massachusetts, everyone sleeping in gender segregated rooms, everything supervised; that is, until the teachers decided to go play ping-pong in the athletic center down the street. At that time, half the group who came was coupled off, practically including myself. I was ‘with’ this guy who for these purposes will be named Kyle. We had both liked each other which was apparently very obvious to everyone in our little group of hikers, and before the teachers had left, we were cuddling on the couch. Now, apparently they were just trying to scare us away from doing anything on the trip, considering the teachers would be held accountable, but it worked. Mr… Mr. Mongoose came over and looked down at us ( I was practically asleep) and goes, ‘Seriously guys? there are other people here!’ like we were hooking up infront of everyone, but of course me being a freshman and him being a sophomore, we jumped apart instantly and sat on opposite couches for the rest of the time- Mr. Mongoose also tried to keep Kyle away from me the entire time by keeping him preoccupied with cooking things and work etc. But then Mr. Mongoose left and we had free reign.
While they were gone, the senior/junior couples went upstairs and did whatever they wanted (i didn’t ask), while I was downstairs in the living room with Kyle. We were pretty intertwined, not doing anything, just watching television, when Emma came downstairs from the couples party upstairs and shouted “they’re coming guys! they’re coming!” and we automatically assumed that she was talking about Mr. Mongoose and company, so I fell off of the couch, which Ryan (Emma’s boyfriend) saw and proceeded to tease me about for the remainder of the year. It turns out she was referring to the brownies in the oven, and not the teachers coming back- needless to say, it was an inside joke for quite a while.
BUT ANYWAYS, while Kyle was off doing whatever Mr.Mongoose wanted him to do, I decided to play connect four with Ryan. We have a running bet as to whom is better at connect four to this day, but no one can remember the exact record. That’s how I first started talking to Ryan; that’s where everything started.
Come around May, Ryan and Emma were broken up because Emma had to go to college, so Ryan was a free item, on the market, single and ready to mingle… and I had just started to like him. One day in particular I spent almost all of my time with him- going into town, and to the dance review are what I remember. After the dance review (which is a showcase of Hogwarts’ talented dancers), my friend ran up to me and w in my ear “ARE YOU HOOKING UP WITH RYAN?!” and I automatically, and immaturely freaked out and said no! and ran in front of her. Ryan was like
“Do I even want to know?”
I simply ran shook my head and ran away from him; some times you wish you could change things in the past, this is one of those times.
So basically, I had fallen for him- simple as that.
Now let’s fast forward to this February.
I had eaten dinner, and saw a free seat next to Ryan at another table full of mutual friends, so I got an apple (as an excuse to sit down) and took the seat. Eventually, as people filed out, I captured his attention and got him talking about his trips until it was me and him solely sitting at the table with each other.
The people who have dining hall as their chore had begun to polish the varnished wood tables, and were circling us like vultures as we sat engaged in our conversation. My legs were crossed and I was sitting sideways in the chair, looking at him, occasionally twirling my hair, making eye contact- the whole shebang. He sat across from me with his arm on the table, and his legs propped up on my chair, animatedly talking about his trips. As the conversation progressed the dynamic changed. We somehow were no longer just two friends talking, we were much more than that. During the time, he eventually took out a long strand of rope from his pocket and began tying knots, telling me to hold the rope at certain times, until we glanced at the clock and it had transformed into 7:20 pm from the 6:00pm it was when I had sat down. We slowly rose as he asked if I wanted to come with him to drop off the rope in the basement of Haleybrook- where the hiking supply closet is. I obviously agreed. As we strolled in the darkness that is a cold winters night, I braced myself against the wind, arms crossed not in denial of him, but in protection from the winter blasts that rattled the land. Somehow we got onto the topic of interdorming. Interdorming is something you can only do on weekend nights, or from 7:00-7:45pm on weekdays; it’s when you’re allowed to have a guy in your room and vice versa, and the door has to be open, your often checked on etc. There are a couple of rules for interdorming one of which is freshman are not allowed to, and sophomores cannot interdorm with seniors. We were talking about how ridiculous this rule is in nature.
Basically it happened because if anything were to happen while the school knew that the two people were in a room together, and one of them was fifteen and the other eighteen, it is legally counted as rape, no matter what. On first examination this rule makes sense, but what if the people are 16 and 17, or 15 and 17 or even 16 and 18? nothing’s illegal then. But that’s another matter.
Anyway, we strolled into Haleybrook, down the stairs into the lonely basement that consists of a former computer lab, an elevator shaft, the laundry room, and the hiking program’s supply closet. As we got to the locked door, he punched in the code and let us into the room. He put the rope back, sat down on a giant box, and I took a place in a rolling chair that was found in the workroom-esque closet which was filled with nails, hammers, woods, supplies- anything you can imagine.
We were alone. No one knew we were there. Anything could have happened, but it didn’t. Instead, we both walked back to our dorms to check in (because you must do so at 7:30 on weekends)
What happened was later that night.
I texted Ryan that I could hang out, and he told me to meet him by the brick wall outside of my dorm. I stood on the wall, looking across the sparsely lit quad and at the dorms whose windows were randomly speckled with lights and wondered how lucky I was to be living in a school with such beauty in the architecture, in the bricks that were laid across paths- and then the wind ripped through my skin and I remembered why I was shaking. It wasn’t from nervousness or excitement- it was from the cold. After about two minutes of me glancing around, he appeared out of no where in front of me. I was taller than him at this point, and put my hands on his shoulders and smiled a hello. Just as he was about to pick me up, I jumped down playfully telling him no with a smile. Secretly I suppose it’s because I”m afraid I’ll be too heavy for him, while I don’t weigh a lot, it’s always a thought in my mind.
So eventually we ended up interdorming in his room. We continued on the conversation about travelling, and him telling me fantastic stories which I’m unbelievably jealous of, and I moved from sitting in his chair to on the bed next to him. He slowly wrapped his arm around my waist and I moved myself closer to him, facing him, with one knee up on the bed and the other leg hanging off of it. We were inches apart. I gazed into his blue-green eyes and as cliché as it may sound, got lost in them. He was so close, so very close; I could feel his breath on my skin, and every time he touched my leg or my arms fire seared up them, scorching me. I just wanted a kiss, is that too much to ask for? It was as if a repelling force was between us, keeping either of us from leaning in to seal the deal. After about a minute, I coyly smiled and pulled away shaking my head, and we got into a conversation about how I liked him last year, why I liked him, who we each liked currently etc. And when he asked me who I liked, all I could answer was “I thought I knew up until two hours ago” as two hours before then we had started talking. Eventually we ended up in the same position as before, with him running his fingers through my long, brunette, unfortunately at-that-moment snarly hair. I wanted a simple graze on the lips which I knew would lead to more, but why didn’t I lean in?
I ask myself that question every day, and everyday I don’t have an answer.
Then I ask myself why he didn’t lean in. That’s what I want to know- and this all started with a game of connect four.