Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1992, Part 1

I carried around my secret, Shawn and I acting around others as if nothing had happened, me telling none of my friends.

It made me happy and amused me to have this secret, not just around my friends but around Peter as well (since I had to see him at meetings for the school newspaper staff).

But there were still fits of crying which I couldn’t explain:

Had my heart grown cold?  Had my love for Peter finally left?  Was my heart now made of stone?  Was I sad that my relationship with Shawn would probably go no further than friendship?

Even while I was with Peter, I was attracted to Shawn, and occasionally pondered asking Peter if we could have an open relationship so I could date Shawn as well as Peter.

I also had thought that whole time that Shawn was attracted to me, that it made him uncomfortable because I–as he told me once–reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, and I was with another guy.

So it would make sense for it to sadden me that our makeout session ended as “just friends.”

Here is an interesting little tidbit in my diary, considering that “friends with benefits” was not a widely known concept back in 1992:

I wonder if I should suggest to Shawn the possibility of filling his occasional want of a girlfriend without actually being one: ‘blowing off steam,’ going to the dances?

The trouble was, for all the times Shawn would scold me over the following year of being hung up on Peter for so long, Shawn himself was still hung up on the girlfriend he had the summer of 1991.

And it was his idea to break up because he didn’t like that she–like me–had trouble opening up and talking to people, including him.

Yet I had no trouble opening up to him.

The summer of 1992, he even tried calling her up to get back together, but she had another boyfriend she was happy with and could talk to.

I think the biggest problem between us is that not only did I believe Peter was meant to be my husband, but Shawn was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend.

I wish we would’ve just forgotten about those two exes and had fun together.  Don’t let the past keep you from living in the present.

Most of the following diary entries were about Peter, talks with Latosha about Peter, trying to get “words from God” (as Pat Robertson termed it on The 700 Club in his Charismatic heresies) about Peter, drama with seeing him around campus and various other crap that was going on, his new off-campus girlfriend, my emotions going here and there, wanting a break from serious relationships so I could “find myself” as Latosha recommended–

–stuff that interested me at the time but is rather boring now (especially since that “word from God” was totally bogus and hindered me from moving on, as I so desperately needed to do–so mark that, all you lovelorn teenagers).

Peter was treating me like scum, while I had not been through this kind of heartbreak before and had no inner intuition telling me what I should or should not do, so kept making mistakes and relying heavily on the support and advice of my friends.  There was drama with his new off-campus girlfriend, but I don’t want to get into that.

I saw him at newspaper staff meetings and around campus, he was cussing like a sailor again, my friends kept telling me he had started smoking and underage drinking–When we were together, he had stopped cussing and thought smoking and underage drinking was stupid.

Also, my Nazarene faith was very strict, saying that cussing, smoking and drinking (period–even of age) were sins; up until college, I had always just assumed that all Christian faiths taught the same thing (he was Episcopalian).

But because these were not just “sins,” but bad for your health, my friends and I saw him as going down a path of teenage rebellion into things that would hurt him.

I was still struggling with my feelings for him, and now saw him as backsliding (as Nazarenes call it) from Christian behavior into a life of sin and depravity which could lead to his eternal damnation.

So he was no longer the kind of guy I wanted to be with anyway (I wanted a good Christian–like Shawn), and my feelings for him were starting to wane and transfer to both Tom and Shawn, but I was afraid to let my love for him go because I might stop praying so fervently for him to turn away from his sins.

But that wasn’t my only problem.  On 3/10, I wrote the following, which I believe is directly related to either NVLD/Asperger’s, selective mutism, and/or introversion.

Keep in mind that all my other teachers liked/loved me and never spoke to me this way, even though I was quiet in their classes, too, only speaking on occasion.

But my favorite teacher, my World Lit teacher sophomore year, told me that teachers would talk about their students, and they said about me that “She doesn’t say much, but when she does, she says good things.”

So apparently Ruth was the only one who took my quietness as some sort of stubborn behavioral problem:

Ruth [my German teacher] said something about how she keeps telling me to participate, and it’s her final warning.  I’m so sick of this.  That’s why I always hurry out of class when it’s over.  

I mean, does she know how many times I’ve been about to say something when someone else says it?  My mind just doesn’t work as quickly verbally as it does when I write.  

I try and try to give her what she wants, whatever it is, but I never get any credit for that.  I’ve gotten better, I tried to tell her once, but she didn’t seem to listen.

I’m glad I’ve begun to confide in T— about my frustration, especially today when Ruth left the room soon after the “incident.”  She gives me advice, and now someone else can know how I feel so dumped on (or whatever).

What is this “final warning” stuff, anyway?  I wasn’t aware of any punishment.  I’m not acting up in class.  I never saw it as a warning.  I won’t be referred to the Dean.  And it’s so unfair.  I don’t know if I can stand it much longer.

I guess I’ll have to study T— and R— and see what it is they do to keep “her” off their backs.  What is this magic formula?  What am I doing that’s so wrong??

Oh, by the way, last Friday, I began to say what a word meant just as she turned to me and said “—,” so I didn’t even have a chance to say anything before she’d started up again!  Just as I began to say something to keep her off my back, she got on it!!

I hope [usual German teacher, who was in Japan setting up a satellite campus] comes back next year.  I feel so threatened.

I have to keep telling myself, “She’s got her good points,” to keep myself from hating her.  It usually works, especially when she’s in a good mood.

But today, as she said those things to me, I was so angry I couldn’t even look at her, just kept flipping through my German dictionary to find words.

I was so glad for the chance to talk to T—, who, by the way, has been a victim too just recently.  I guess I just have a trait that doesn’t want to let people think they’re forcing me to do something, but that what I’m doing is what I independently think is best.

Again on the 14th, at 2:52 am, I wrote, “I have no idea what the German teacher’s problem was today [Friday, 3/13].  I’m not conscious of having done a thing to get her on my back again.”  Then,

Shawn stopped over unexpectedly, and we chatted for a while.  I said when he came, “I didn’t expect to see you here tonight,” and he said, “Neither did I.  I was out walking….”

… I didn’t mind the company at all.  He looked terrible; I don’t know if he’s been sick, or what.  He was about to leave, when I asked him when he’d like to meet [for prayer partners], and he decided to do it right then.

We chatted for a bit–we were both into similar TV shows and science fiction–then he left.

I’ve also found references to giving the proper “noises” when someone is speaking, to show that you’re listening.  Ruth, who was Swiss, also scolded me because I never made these “noises” while she was speaking, that I was the only person she knew who didn’t, and she couldn’t tell if I was listening.

I was indeed listening, but had absolutely no clue what she was talking about with these “noises.”  I thought it was her problem, because nobody ever mentioned such a thing to me before.

I wondered if there was something about Swiss culture that made her (and my suitemate Heidi, who was also Swiss) keep getting annoyed with me when other people were usually nice to me.

Heck, just having to stop and remember to nod your head or say uh-huh or any of these other things, can be rather distracting when you’re trying to focus and keep your mind from wandering.

Heidi once asked me why I didn’t say “hello” to everyone in the lounge whenever I came into the suite.  It just never occurred to me.

At home with my family, I never did it there, either, or responded when people came home and said hello.  It just never occurred to me.

And well, it seems like at home, you should be able to relax some of those social rules that are so exhausting because you have to keep remembering them and forcing yourself to do them.


On Saturday the 14th, in the evening, Shawn happened to stop in the suite with Heidi and at least one other person.  I was in the bathroom at the time, but had been sitting in the lounge watching TV, so I had gone back to the couch.

Shawn walked through the lounge and said something to me.  He was leaving, but I stopped him to ask if I could tell anyone what happened between us on the 29th.

We had a “longish” conversation, but afterwards he stuck around, watching some documentary with me.  It was on PBS during a pledge drive, so it lasted two or three hours.

Yet he still stuck around, finding the last part of a James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever.  Heidi came along and gave us a carton of Rippin’ Good cookies, saying to leave her one, and they’re not expensive like bread, so we could eat as many as we wanted.  As I wrote in my diary,

Once she said “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” and Shawn [remarked that] a man’s best friend is a dog–warm and fuzzy, etc.–and a girl’s is cold and hard.  You don’t say things like that to Heidi!  She got after him, and I threatened to throw my (half-eaten) cookie at him.

Latosha came in once and remarked on the cozyness of having cookies, etc.  Heidi came in several times and remarked on how late it was.

Once, while the girl in the movie wore a bikini, Shawn asked if I looked like that.  I asked him what he meant, and acted shocked at such a question.

Once, probably during the documentary, I fetched two Hershey’s kisses, and offered him one.  That was probably when he asked whose boots those were (mine, in the corner by the door), and threw his balled-up wrapper in one!  He didn’t think it went in, but I found it when I shook my boots out later on, giving him a look.

After the movie, he found Mad Max, and we kind of watched that (a channel-flipper, he is [though not as bad as my suitemate Tom, who flipped so fast you couldn’t see a thing]), and, later on, another movie about a post-apocalyptic car race (a stupid comedy).

The latter movie had a “scene” in it, and another movie we saw a few minutes of had upper nudity in it.  I kept looking away and making faces, remarking on the kind of things they have on late at night, but Shawn kept looking, not even turning the station.

[I kept noting how late it was, almost 3am, but he didn’t get the hint, and I finally got so hungry for chocolate that I got a couple more Hershey’s kisses and offered him one.]  “Want another one?” I said.

“Is there a message in this?” he said, and I acted like he’d said some shockingly funny joke (which I considered it).

However, I did subconsciously mean it another way, which I knew as I offered the kiss and said what I did.  After all, I was longing for him to kiss me again….

Around 3, I got so sleepy that I moved so I could rest my head on the couch cushion and close my eyes during commercials….Once, he leaned back against my legs….

About 3:00, he got up, lifted me up–afghan and all, carried me into my room, and put me on my bed, me crying, “What’re you doing?!”  Then I got up and began folding the afghan….

He said, “Need a hug?”  I took it, then wondered, “What a long hug.”  It wasn’t much of one on my part, I guess, since I was so tired.  I didn’t know he was waiting for me.

[He had a guy-view of hugs–short and pound the back–while I had a girl-view–hugs can last as long as either person wants and be platonic.]

I ended it, thinking it had gone on long enough.  But he didn’t move.  “I could’ve left several hours ago,” he said, then began stroking my sides.  He does like me now? I thought.

He went up too far, so I crossed my arms as protection.  I could hardly look at him, because I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

Somehow, we ended up sitting on the bed, me trembling as his talk turned to something ambiguous–the “scenes.”  He asked me about them, and I said I turned away because they were disgusting and I didn’t want them to affect me.

He said, “So you’re afraid you’re human after all?”  [Er–no, I was trying to follow my Christian values and not think of sex before marriage!  Which you should know, fellow Christian!]

He saw me trembling.  I told him I felt nervous and anxious.  He checked how fast my heart was beating, but it wasn’t as fast as he wanted.  Somehow, we ended up sitting like before, his arms around me, me resting my sleepy head against his chest.

He asked, “If I kissed you, would you kiss me back?” and I said, “Maybe,” and did.  He kept trying to stir me up, trying to get to second base, while I tried to stop him….

I finally made him stop, saying I didn’t feel comfortable with him doing [that]–and he said he didn’t feel comfortable, either, though he meant he didn’t feel comfortable doing it to me.

We tried to sort things out until after 5 in the morning!  Then he left me to think and to sleep, saying to look in my [Bible] concordance for what was making me so gloomy.  Now, I think it’s quite obvious I’m just upset and stressed and loaded down.

Once, I said, “I just want to know what you want!”  “I want to be friends,” he said, but we’re both totally confused.  What do we want?  (He did tell me I’m kind and caring.)

The next day at lunch, I found Shawn sitting with Pearl, Julie and another girl.  No trouble figuring out who to sit with!  I saw Shawn looking very tired, and wondered if anybody noticed that we both were, or how strangely we acted around each other–uncomfortable.

He had specifications of what he wanted in a girlfriend; apparently I didn’t meet them.  He said if he went out with me, it would ruin his chances to go out with someone else.

He said I was gloomy and had lost my joy, but that was because of what I’d been going through lately.  A 30ish lady from church, whom I’d known for years, said I’m not a gloomy person, but serious.

He had this idea that he was more mature than I was, but he had two siblings with cystic fibrosis and suffered breakdowns because of it, so how could I possibly reach his level of life experience?

On March 26, shortly after a long talk I had with that church lady about Peter and Shawn, I wrote,

V– was so right when she said I’ve got a guard up against love relationships right now.  I’ve known it for at least a little while, but she’s the first person to say it so concretely….

I don’t want anything serious [with Shawn] because I don’t want to be hurt again, but a friend is “safe”–he wouldn’t leave me.  I want someone male who’ll always be there, though not necessarily a boyfriend….

A deeper relationship is, for the moment, undesirable and unwanted because of the possibility of future rejection and hurt, which would probably cause the guy to leave me.

To be continued…..


Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: