My boyfriend plays water polo, and his tournaments take him all over the state, country, and even the world. Last Saturday, a tournament took him to Santa Barbra, 45 minutes away from Ojai. Because Ojai was on the way home, he got to stop by and visit me.
He coordinated with my roommate, texting her constantly, asking for directions and making sure I was in the optimal position to be surprised. He told me that he couldn’t stop by because his little brother was sick and needed to get home. This was not a lie – his 8-year-old brother was sick, and my boyfriend had to go through a lot to get his mom to let him visit.
I was sitting outside the office when he pulled up. I was in tears as I ran up to hug him. However, as I let myself relax into the familiar embrace, I was wary of my back and surroundings – scared that we would be broken apart because our hug would be deemed “too long,” not obeying the “quick hug hello or goodbye” PDA rule. I pulled away too soon, and warned him of the rule. Confused, he agreed, and handed me a huge box of presents. I thanked his mom and she drove off to get food with his little brother. My boyfriend was now on campus and did not have a way of getting off for at least 2 hours. Of course, this did not register with either of us as a problem.
We headed up to the girl’s dorm lounge – everyone was hanging out there – boys, girls, so I thought it would be a good place to spend time. We entered and I introduced him to my friends. We sat down in the chairs and began to talk about his games that day, until a dorm parent walked in. I could tell from the moment she saw him that something was wrong. I instantly reviewed what we had heard in the handbook review session, and what I had read about visits. The only thing I could remember was “weekday visits are not encouraged.” He wasn’t trying to sign me out, so I decided that there was nothing that could be wrong.
She took me aside and explained that visitors need to be registered by my parents, and approved by the headmaster. I told her that it was a surprise visit, and she told me we would have to stay within her supervision at all times. We stayed in the lounge, clueless of what to do, and followed her to and from dinner, during which we sat quietly and tried to avoid anyone seeing us. The dorm mom had warned us that he could be asked to leave at any point, and he had no way of doing so. At one point, he tried to jokingly pat my back. Terrified someone would see him touch me, I slid over a seat and commanded him not to touch me.
We followed the dorm parent back to the lounge, where we again sat awkwardly and waited for him to leave. Finally, his mom arrived, and the only second I got to show him the school was when I escorted him to the waiting car. After a fast, tentative hug, he was off. That was my magical surprise visit.
I asked why he wasn’t allowed around campus with my friend and I – abiding by the 3 person rule. It was explained to me that they didn’t know who he was, so it was deemed unsafe for him to be let out of a teacher’s sight. Although I do understand this rule, I still don’t think it goes along with the motto of the school, integrity of life. Everyone who goes here was accepted into the school after being carefully reviewed by a committee. It was decided that we would be trusted by the school, and I believe that this goes along with trusting who we are associated with. With all the rules imposed on me during that short visit, I felt as though the school did not trust me to make smart choices as to whom I associate with. And that makes me ask myself, does the school really trust us? Do they believe that we are living with integrity? Do they think we are capable of bringing someone on campus that will be a danger to the community?
After the visit, my boyfriend expressed that he felt like he visited me at a hospital, and this did not surprise me.
Does the school trust me to make the right choices in friends? Or do they not believe I will live with integrity? If not, then there are some serious discussions that need to occur.