#7sweden1

Anders was recruited to play tennis at Stanford. He is exactly as you picture him: blondly Swedish, tall, confident, and charming. We were introduced by a mutual friend on our hallway freshman year; maybe to compensate for a comment about the tennis team, Anders wouldn’t come to the dining hall with us. “I have to study,” he said.

I went to the gym regularly in college— at that point the energy and optimism of my Stanford class overwhelmed the voice insisting on my difference— and for a while I tried to lift weights. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I watched the other guys, and I tried. One day I was on the bench press, by myself, and I put too much weight on. (Probably less than my actual weight, but more than I had tried to lift before.) I did the first rep, and as I shoved to lift my arms and the bar up a second time my left arm gave away and I whiplashed the entire force of the thing onto my left shoulder. I was still somehow self-aware enough to be embarrassed, and I remember trying to figure out how to get the bar off my neck with only my right arm, since I couldn’t feel my left. Then Anders was standing over me, lifting the bar up with two fingers, clanging it back into the grooves on the stand, helping me sit up.

He got me to the infirmary that night, and sat with me until I was settled. I told him I was fine, but he stayed. The doctor talked to Anders as if we were close friends; he asked if Anders had a key to my room, and whether he could bring me some clothes in the morning, since I had shown up in my gym stuff. While the doctor was still in the room I gave Anders my keys and described the pants I wanted him to bring me the next day.

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