“Everyone remain calm and exit the building as quickly as possible,” my fellow RA’s and I tell our residents. “Get as far away from the building as you can.” Another routine fire drill, but this time I noticed something different. Tall, dark haired, and with a smile that could make even Lucifer himself say Hallelujah. I was entranced with just that one brief glimpse. Whose resident could this be? I just have to know who they are. My fellow RA’s and I check each floor to make sure that everyone is out of the building. “All clear,” we tell the residents. I board the elevator going up to the tenth floor with my Co-RA Kyle and several of our residents. Kyle and I had become great friends over the course of training and we even have a few classes together this semester so I know I can talk to her about anything. “Hey do you know who that guy was today in the gray shirt? He was tall…” “With dark hair and a smile that would make the devil himself say Amen.” My eyebrows shot up to my hairline. She laughed. “He is one of your residents,” she chuckled. “He is really sweet. He also plays piano. I think he is the sensitive type: brooding, artistic, and poetic. I see him alone alot though.” “Aw poor thing. I feel bad for not knowing anything about my residents yet,” I replied. “You’ve only been an RA a couple of weeks. You’ll get to know them at your wing meeting on Tuesday.” I breathe a sigh of relief.
Lying in bed alone in my room, blasting Demi Lovato’s Unbroken album, I stare at the ceiling. “What am I to do?” A knock is heard at my door. I turn down volume of my laptop and make my way to the door.
“Hi. My name is Jeremiah.” I could feel my heart beat like a drum. “H-h-hi. I’m Onyx.” He chuckles. “I know. You are my RA.” “Duh. of course, he knows who I am,” I think to myself. “How can I help you, Jeremiah?” The expression of his face quickly changed to a somber one. “My roommate and I got into an argument and I don’t know what to do.” “Come on in.” We sit on my bed facing each other. He grabs my pillow and hug it close. A tear falls from his eye. “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I really need to talk to someone.” “It’s ok. Tell me what happened,” I say as I place my hand on his leg and stare into his piercing blue eyes.
“James and I were in the room watching a movie. There was a gay character and James started making so very derogatory comments about him. I told him that what he was saying was mean and offensive. Then he asked why was I so offended by his comments. Then I told him.” “You told him what,” I questioned. “I told him that I was gay and he just took off. I don’t know if he will speak to me again or what.” Jeremiah lets go of the pillow and makes his way into my arms. I wrap my arms around him while he cries into my shirt. Part of me wants to take advantage of this situation and lean in for a kiss, but I can’t. The timing is all wrong and not to mention that he is my resident. “I will talk to him about it and see what I can do,” I whisper to him. “No, I can’t ask you to do that,” Jeremiah mumbles in between sobs. “It’s my job. I am your RA. I’m kinda suppose to deal with roommate conflicts like this.”
Jeremiah wipes the tears from his face and smiles. “Thanks so much for listening. You’re a really good guy.” “No problem. It’s what I’m here for,” I reply. We both get up and walk to the door. Before exiting, Jeremiah turns around and gives me another hug. “Bye and thanks again.” I wave my hand and shut the door. I walk back to my laptop. I hit play again on my iTunes. “I am a Lightweight. Easy to fall, easy to break. With every move my world shakes. Keep me from falling apart.” I can’t believe that my favorite song from this album fits so easily with what just happened. I stretch out across my bed, holding onto the pillow that was just in Jeremiah’s arms. “Of all the people he could go to, including his friends, he came to me. He doesn’t even know me that well, yet he felt comfortable enough to come out to me.” I take off my shirt and get ready for bed. I can smell his cologne all over it; Calvin Klein. I close my eyes, drowning myself in his scent and in the music.
“Hey Onyx,” I hear from down the hall. “Are you ready for your first wing meeting?” “Hey Kyle. Yes, it should be fun. I’ve met a quite a few of my residents, but I ready to get this semester started. I also have some things that I need to address.” “Anything bad?” “A resident came to me saying that he was having a problem with homophobia.” “Wow. Let me know if you need anything. Good luck,” she says before heading to her desk shift. I make my way to the study lounge where the meeting will be held. I place the box of Tiff’s Treats I bought on the table and pulled up my notes on my iPad. Residents start trickling in in groups of two and three. I check the time. “Hey everyone. We’ll be starting in a couple minutes. We’re just waiting for a few more people. Feel free to take some cookies. There are snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and sugar.” The last couple of residents come in and I begin.
“Hey guys. As you may know, my name is Onyx and I’m new RA for this semester. Yes I know my name is also that of a pokemon, but I was actually named after the gemstone. I just wanted to introduce myself to you guys as a whole as well as get to know y’all better. I also want to go over a few things you can expect from me and what I expect from y’all.” I go over the ground rules for the floor, guest hours, roommate conflicts. “In order for our wing to be a fun and safe place for all, respect must be given. Our wing is full of people from many different backgrounds, walks of life, religions, social classes, and even sexual orientations.” I hear a chuckle in the back of the room and see a couple faces of disgust in regard to sexual orientation. “Is there a question in the back?” I ask hoping to get a discussion going on the topic. The residents in the front turn around to see who I was referring to. No one wants to speak. One resident finally decides to speak up assuming that he will have a following in his view. “You mean to tell me that there are queers in our wing.” I see Jeremiah eyes aiming to lock with mine. “Yes. There are people of varying sexual orientations in our wing. Is that a problem?” I say rather sternly. “Oh no. I would just like to know who so I can watch myself in the bathroom.” He chuckles and goes to high five one of his friends, but gets no response. Everyone just looks at him. “I’m sorry to break it to you, but I’m gay and I think we should
talk after the meeting.” Jeremiah’s eyes widen. None of the other residents seem shocked. The one in the back of the room’s demeanor complete changes. I end the meeting and everyone return to their rooms.
“I’m so sorry,” the resident pleads. “I didn’t mean it that way.” I look him in the eyes and tell him that he did. “You were trying to make one of you fellow residents feel uncomfortable and that’s not showing them respect. That’s being offensive and a bully.” I explain to him that I have to fill out an IRIS about it. He apologizes once again and turns around to leave. “Hey, before you leave, I want you to check out this movie.” I hand him a DVD. “Prayers for Bobby?” “Just watch it. It’s a really good movie. Just give it back to me when you finish watching it.” He nods and walks into his room. I head back to my room and find Jeremiah standing outside my door.
He’s leaning against the wall glancing down at his phone. “Hey,” I say hesitantly. He smiles. “Hey Onyx. Do you want to take a walk with me?” “Sure. Let me put my stuff down.” “Cool.” I open the door and place my iPad on my desk. “I guess I should leave these at the desk” I think to myself referring to the left over Tiff’s Treats. On the elevator, Jeremiah and I make small talk. When we get to the lobby, I stop by the front desk and chitchat with the CA about the cookies. We leave the dorm and just start walking towards the tower. The full moon shining above us in the cloudless sky sprinkled with stars make this night seem oddly romantic. “So what’s up?” I ask. “Nothing.” “There has to be something up. You did invite me out here.” “I wanted to get away from the dorm, but I didn’t want to go alone.” “Why not invite some friends?” “I don’t have very many friends. Plus I’d rather hang out with you.” He smiles. My heart starts pounding and I begin to blush. Jeremiah chuckles. “Thanks for standing up for me in the wing meeting. It means a lot to me to have someone on my side for a change.” “What do you mean,” I ask concerned. “Life for me hasn’t been the easiest especially since I’m gay. A lot of my friends turned their back on me. And then I got a roommate who I thought was cool until the other night.” He stops and sits on a bench near the English building. I sit down next to him “You know I’m always here to talk, right.” I turn to face him. “And this is me talking not just as your RA, but as a friend.” Jeremiah suddenly kisses me.
My heart and mind begin to race. Part of me wants to push him off and leave, but the other part of me doesn’t want him to stop. I’m his RA. My job could be on the line if anyone finds out about this. What are my other residents going to think. But then again, I can’t being drawn to him. I feel like I have to protect him. Against my better judgement I kiss him back. As our lips pull apart, we look into each other’s eyes. There is a light in his that pulls me in. “Wow.” I smile. “You can say that again.” Jeremiah giggles. “What’s next?” “I don’t know. We can’t tell anyone that this happened.” “Why not. I like you. And from that kiss I know you like me. What’s the problem?” I get up from the bench and start pacing. “The problem is that I’m your RA. RA’s and residents aren’t suppose to be together. What will everyone else think? I could lose my job.” Jeremiah stands up and grabs me. “Calm down. No one has to
know. I really like you and I don’t want to do anything that will hurt you. This will be our little secret.” I relunctantly go along with his idea. I guess my shoulder devil won this argument.
A few days have passed since Jeremiah and I first kissed. I’m slightly on edge and hesitant for people to see us together. It’s my night on call. While making my rounds on the eighth floor, I hear yelling. “Fucking faggot.” I race to the stairwell where all the commotion is going on. I see a group of guys standing in a circle around someone. “Dispurse Now!” I yell. They all run down the stairs. “Must be athletes,” I think to myself. Suddenly I see Jeremiah lying on the floor. I make my way to him and check to see if he is ok. He wraps his arms around me and holds me tight. “What happened,” I ask. “I was walking up the stairs and they just surrounded me and started to shove me within their circle.” “Did they do anything other than shove you?” “No.” “Ok. I’ll walk with you back to your room and get you some ice for your arm.” “No. Can I please stay with you tonight? I promise I won’t do anything. I just don’t want to be alone.” “But you will have James…on second thought, it is possibly better if you stay with me.” I walk him back to my room, make him an ice pack, and then open my laptop. I fill out an IRIS and then head to the door. “Where are you going?” “I have to make a phone call. Their coach isn’t gonna be happy to hear about this.” “Don’t be long please.” “Ok.”
In the hallway, I make the call to the football coach. I also send a text to Kyle. “Hey. I need some advice. Meet me in the study lounge ASAP.” I pace back and forth in the study loung while waiting for Kyle to come. “Hey. What’s wrong?” “Hey. I can talk to you about anything right.” “Yeah.” “And you will give me your honest opinion and keep whatever I say between us.” “Yeah. What’s wrong?” “I don’t know how to say this, but Jeremiah and I kissed.” “Say who?” “We kissed. The other night after the wing meeting he asked me if I wanted to take a walk. I didn’t see a problem with it so I said yes. We walked around campus and stopped by the Tower. We sat on one of the benches and in the midst of talking we kissed.” “Wow. Did you think of the consequences? Did you think about what would happen if one of the HCs find out? Did you…” “I know. I know,” I interrupted. “What should I do? I really like him. And the funny this is, I think, he feels the same.” “You got a lot to think about my friend. I’m not gonna tell anyone about this, but be careful. A lot can ride on your decision.” “Thanks.” Kyle exits the study lounge and heads back to her room. I sit down on a couch and begin to cry. So much rides on this decision. If I stay with him, I could lose my job. But if I end it, I will have to deal with being his RA for the rest of the semester and possibly losing him forever. I get up and head back to my room knowing this could be a turning point for the semester.
I open the door and find Jeremiah lying on the bed. His eyes light up when I enter the room. “What took you so long?” “I ran into Kyle.” “Ok. How is she?” “She is good.” I look away. “Are you ok? You look like you’ve been crying.” A frog fills my throat. “I have been.” “What’s the matter? Is there anything I can do?” Lord knows I want to tell him to leave, but I
can’t seem to bring myself to do it. Just seeing him there in my bed brings such joy to my heart. “Just hold me.” Jeremiah pats the edge of the bed for me to sit. He wraps his arms around me and lays one on me. The sweet taste of his lips clear away the storm raging in my head. I feel safe. He start to dose off and then he whispers in my ear, “I think I love you.” I fall instantly to sleep with a smile on my face.
For the next week or so, we keep our encounters a secret. Playing the “Just friends” card whenever others are around. We can’t let people know about us, especially the HCs. Valentine’s day draws near. Kyle and I plan a Valentine’s Day program for our floor. We are making Valentine’s day gift bags for our respective valentines. Jeremiah and I try as hard as we can to keep who our bags are for a secret, but I see the way Kyle looks at us. A glare every now and then as she catches Jeremiah and I’s eyes meet. The program is a success. While cleaning up afterwards, Kyle stops me for a second. “Onyx, I know what’s going on.” “What are you talking about?” My voice raises half an octave. “You know what I’m talking about. I see the way you and Jeremiah look at each other. I’m not blind. I thought you were gonna end it after the last time we talked.” I look down. “I know. But you don’t understand how he makes me feel. I feel so good with him. I’m happy.” “I know you are happy, but do you understand how this affects you job? Do you not hear what some of the other residents say?” “What do they say?” “They say that their RA is abusing his power.” “What?” “Yes. Your residents know about you two and while I can’t say all of them are against it, some are. You have to fix it.” “Oh God. I didn’t know.” “Yeah.” My spirit completely change. We finish cleaning up, I go back to my room. I lay in bed listening to music in the dark. My mind wanders about how to resolve this situation I’ve gotten myself into.
The next few days, things become rough for me. I get an email from one of the RAs on my staff saying to meet in the conference room. I get to the room and the entire staff minus our HC is there. Kyle stands up. “Have a seat, Onyx.” “Ok. What’s the meeting for?” “You.” “What?” My heart sinks to the bottom of my chest. I can’t believe it. It’s an intervention…for me. “We all know about you and Jeremiah,” one of the RAs from the seventh floor says. “And while we’re happy that you’re happy, we have to think about how it is affecting our community and hall.” “You’re an amazing RA, but your job is being compromised by this relationship,” another RA chimes in. I can’t even find the words to defend myself. My heart is breaking. The people I’ve grown so close to are having an intervention for me because I’ve found love. “I love my job, but I also love him. I don’t want to lose either. Being an RA has been one of the best experiences of my life. And being with Jeremiah has made me the happiest I’ve been romantically in a long time.” Tears fall from my eyes. “Onyx, this is not meant to hurt you. We just want what’s best for you and the hall. You’ve got to make a decision and within the next couple of days otherwise we will have no choice other than to tell the HC. We don’t want to see you go, but if the relationship is more important than the job then you have to step down.” I can’t even fathom the emotions that I’m feeling at the moment. They all give me a hug, tell me that they love me and then exit the room. I just sit
there alone crying.
Back in my room, I give a call to Jeremiah. “Hey love, can you please come to my room? It’s urgent.” Within minutes, I hear a knock at my door. I open it. “Hey.” He kisses me. “What’s wrong?” “We have to talk.” “About what?” “Us.” His face bears a look of extreme confusion. “Why? What about us?” “Babe, you know I love you with all my heart right.” “Yes.” “The other RAs had an intervention for me. Not because they aren’t happy for us but our relationship is negatively affecting the hall.” “Who cares?! The only thing that matters is us and our happiness.” “Babe, I care. I’m an RA. I have to care.” The fear in his eyes becomes apparent as they well up with tears. “Babe, I don’t want to lose you, but my job is on the line.” “So you are putting your job before the person you supposedly love.” “It’s not like that. I don’t want to lose you…Ever. I love you so much, but as long as I’m your RA we can’t be together.” “What if I move?” “Where? It’s the middle of the semester. Apartments aren’t leasing now.” His head sinks down into his lap. “Please babe, don’t cry.” “Why not? You are breaking up with me.” “I don’t want to break up. Can we just pause? I know it is an outrageous request, but can you wait until the end of the semester? It’s only one month away.” “A month is a long time away. How do you think it will make me feel to see you in the hall and know that despite me being madly in love with you that I can’t have you. That I can’t kiss you. That I can’t touch you. That I can make love to you.” “Babe please. Try to understand where I’m coming from.” He takes a deep breath. “Ok.” “Ok what?” “I’ll do it. I’ll give it a try. I’m not making any promises, but I love you too much. One month. That is all you get. We’ll see what happens then.” I move in to kiss him, but he turns away. “If we are gonna do this, then we have to start now.” He walks to the door, turn around and tells me he loves me. He closes the door. I have never felt so low in my entire life. Who knew that falling in love with a resident would be so difficult? This is sure to be the longest month of my life.
written July 2012