Garret Stein, one of the smartest people I have ever met. I was introduced to this senior computer science major at a Jewish welcome barbeque the weekend before classes started. I was immediately enamored by his huge smile and his ability to keep a conversation going even if there was nothing else to say. His bright red face to most would have been a huge turnoff, but I found it sweet and innocent looking (reminding me of myself).
This red-headed, nice, Jewish boy was clearly perfect for me. I sat by him at Hillel during my first Friday night service at school. Two days later I was ready to enter into complete crush mode. Then, I met one of his more handsome friends (shallow I know), Mike, that slowed me down in my pursuit of declaring crush.
As I proceeded to crushdom with caution (and eyes looking elsewhere) and then immersed myself into crush mode, I learned that a four year separation in age really does make a difference at such a young pivotal point in life.
I went grocery shopping with him (I considered this a date), made a pro/con list about him, gave him my leftover chicken, etc. And then we went to a party together…
One month into college and I was living it up. It was my first taste of freedom. I was learning my boundaries and I assumed that’s what everyone else my age was doing too. Garret, on the other hand, already figured out his boundaries four years earlier when he was a freshman, and he wanted me to have the same boundaries that he set for himself. I can clearly remember him taking the drink out of my hand at the party and telling me it was time to go…not okay!
Unlike Liesl from the Sound of Music, I do not need someone older and wiser to take care of me. With that, I was snapped out of this crush and onto his friend Mike.
Looking back, after now deciding where my boundaries are and seeing him two years later as a successful computer nerd and going through the ringer with Mike, maybe I should have just followed his rules. We could have been a beautiful, nerdy couple together. Nah…he wasn’t meant to be my NJB, at least I don’t think so.