“We need to talk, Ed.”
My college roommate, Steve, sat down next to me on the couch where we roughly saw eye to eye. At 6’6”, it always seemed, to me at least, like there was too much of him. He crossed one leg over the other so that I could see his massive foot.
“I’m really concerned that you’re going to hurt Karen,” he began.
Steve didn’t know my girlfriend Karen personally. He hardly knew me. Between the basketball team, his girlfriend, and his many friends around campus, Steve wasn’t in our room all that often.
“Things are fine,” I assured him.
“I think she’s taking your relationship a lot more seriously than you are.”
Looking back, he was absolutely correct, but there was nothing I wanted more than for him to be wrong. In fact, I didn’t see how he could be right. It was impossible. We lived in two different worlds that rarely intersected. He lived in the popularity bubble, and I scratched together an existence outside of the bubble, vacillating between envy and hatred of those inside the bubble.
You’re wrong,” I said, mustering up a meager bit of courage to speak my mind with a sense of finality. “Karen and I have talked. Things are good.”
It was at best a half truth. We hadn’t really talked. Our talk was more like a check in—“Are you good? OK? Great!” I wanted Steve to know that I was on top of things.
Two months later everything fell to pieces, and I broke Karen’s heart. My check in hadn’t cleared up anything because I was a clueless, immature freshman. Steve had tried to help, but I wasn’t willing to listen to his advice. Steve lived in the popularity bubble, and we may as well have hailed from foreign countries with different customs and languages.