The first hint that she was living with a very different set of circumstances came one day while I was eating at the school dining hall.
"Hey, catch!" she said, approaching the table I sat at and tossing something small at me.
After fumbling with it for a moment, I realized it was an Audi key fob.
"OK?" I replied.
"We had the car driven out from home so now I have it here!" she exclaimed excitedly.
I was speechless. Home for her was LA, and we were in Central Ohio. I didn't have a car at school and my parents only lived about two hours north. Part of me was just as excited as she was -- but another part, deeper down, was turned off by the fact that someone had been paid to deliver a luxury car to her on her parents' dime.
That car -- a tiny black stick-shift Audi TT -- came to encapsulate the best and worst parts of our relationship. I loved it because we could spend hours in it together, driving around the small town outside the college, going on dates at hick restaurants, and killing time away from the suffocating campus. I hated it because of the looks I would get from townies when I stepped out of it, people I would often identify with more than my most privileged classmates.