He’s Div III, I’m Div I: Navigating an Inter-Divisional Relationship



We met at a party during spring of my sophomore year. I had just declared the English major and was telling everyone that getting an MFA sounded like a viable career path when I saw him across the room. He looked so tired, yet so proud of looking tired. There was something magnetic in the way his eyes shone over their bags and before I knew it, I fell head over heels for a pre-Med Biology major. Our friends all thought we were crazy. But we threw caution to the wind and entered an inter-divisional relationship.


When I came to Williams, I assumed that a liberal arts college would be an open-minded environment free of intellectual prejudice. Perhaps I was simply fooled by Admissions, since my tour guide was a Theatre major with a Neuro concentration. He wrote a play about three meth-addicted neurotransmitters, traveling the long and winding roads of neuro-pathways and the even longer road to recovery. When I met my boyfriend, however, I learned that Div I, Div II and Div III are called “divisions” for a reason.


The most important part of keeping our relationship healthy is patience. I have to remember that we come from different intellectual backgrounds. He doesn’t know anything about the nuanced treatment of horticulture in 17th-century Romanian literature. And I have no experience mixing different colored chemicals in tubes. It sometimes feels like we’re speaking different languages. I’m confused by terms like “pharmacological agents,” “tetrodotoxin,” and “job security.” Meanwhile, I discovered that he didn’t know the word “serendipity.” Like, really didn’t know what it meant. I mean, seriously, I just — But I understand that we’re different and that’s okay.


A few months ago, my boyfriend and I hit our lowest point. I caught him cheating on me. He was texting some girl to meet up at all hours of the day and night. He sent her messages like, “Wanna do it later?” and “Damn, it’s really hard.” But he explained to me that she was his lab partner. That’s just what lab partners do. And it was tough, but I had to accept it.


His world may perplex me sometimes, but I’m learning to appreciate its beauty. Like, when he says how busy he is and how he can’t do that thing I want to do right now and I should really stop asking because he’s so busy. I’ve found a kind of poetry in the repetitive way he lists off his assignments. “I have a lab report, a P-Set, two responses, another lab report, a P-Set, two responses…” The rhythm is captivating. And the way he didactically explains any science concept to me like I’m a third-grader is just so sexy.


Love of all kinds is beautiful, and despite the challenges, I wouldn’t trade my inter-divisional relationship for anything. Not everyone understands us, but I am blessed to have a family that supports us and believes in our love. My mom always says, “You better keep that one. He’s gonna be a doctor. Maybe he can tell me what this thing on my back is.”


I can tell she understands – it’s not just about tolerating our inter-divisional relationship; it’s about seeing the beauty in it.

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