There are always particular snippets of time that create, refashion, demolish, or flatten the personalities of an individual. Their fundamental core is altered, changed forever by those experiences that seem real only on television or in trash Harlequin novels from Sam’s Club. This semester, I was the girl from the film, the one who squashed a million lives and shitty nights into the atom of Fall 2016. I didn’t know a single semester had the power to rewire my networks, my habit of thinking about everything. But it did. I’ll begin with a list of *character*defining* shenanigans and analyze their psychological, physical, and social bearing on me.
Fall 2016: The List
Here’s what I did from September 5th, 2016 to December 8th, 2016:
- I tripped on LSD and then went to Chapter. *
- I kissed three girls.
- I bussed back to GP at 2 a.m. after Jess ditched me at Indie Night and sprinted back to the apartment in heels.
- I drank absinthe. *
- I stole a HITT clicker from Carleton after being drunk one night.
- I spent way too much time at the Ridge drinking, smoking hookah, and falling in love with a boy who would never like me back. *
- I slept with Jack, twice. *+
- I spontaneously got my ears pierced.
- I smoked a cigar in a tree with Jack during a hurricane—and met Nathan, Carlos, and Rodrigo while I was in the branches talking about deep shit with Jack. *
- I started smoking a cigar every few weeks.
- I smoked weed at Jon’s and then became friends with him (!) after Jess and I went to Cedar Key Botanical Gardens (and a Japanese restaurant in Williston) with him the next day.
- I learned how to roll a blunt because of Jon (my drug dealer in resident).
- I climbed the Aztec Calendar with Jess and Assad (separately) and had fantastic nights each time.
- I took an edible and was high at Weekend. *
- I threw a mini party to celebrate LTA’s 3rd birthday and got 6 free donuts at Dunkin after my campus walk with Jon.
- Some random guy at Rawlings garage asked for my number and I gave it to him.
- I went to a Carillon concert with Carlos + Random Co, went to Modern Age with Nathan + Random Co, and smoked cigars with Random Co on their porch. *
- I made out with Jason at the Halloween party. *
- I made out with Assad at the baseball stadium after asking him out on a date the week before. I felt nothing. *
- I walked from Southwest Rec to Lowe’s with Brad and bitched about my boy situation while we walked through The Ridge to get back. *
- I finally told Jack I liked him after seeing him at the exact moment he got off his bus and right before I stepped onto mine. *
- I went to Clemens’ for dinner, he gave me grilled salmon and Molly (like the drug), and we went to the Atlantic with Jess.
- Jess and I walked on SW 34th to get our cars at Clemens’s and Carlos saw us. I also got my first parking ticket at Leonardo’s around this time.
- I posted that f~a~t~a~l Huffington Post article and shit went down with Carley, Brandy, Liam, Jack, and Trace. Suffice it to say, we are not friends anymore and APHIO events are incredibly awkward. *
- I skipped class (one of three times) with Lola because 1) the weather was too beautiful to stay inside, 2) I couldn’t face Jack, and 3) I was feeling like a lady rebel. *
- I started dating Peter. *
- I gave him a hand job, he went down on me, and I took my shirt off outside a retention pond while making out with him. *
- I slept with Peter. *+
- I ended things with Peter, he got extremely clingy and asked for his shirt back, and then I saw him TWICE when Jon and I were getting coffee at Starbucks.
- I applied for a Berlin study abroad program this summer. *
- I had my first taste of ghost pepper sauce and my mouth died of fire. I had my first Boba Tea that night too.
- I explored downtown St. Augustine with friends and bought hipster jewelry at Earth Bound.
- I learned to semi-longboard at The Agency (an amazing place) with Nathan. *
- Things got awkward with Juan after we watched New Girl with his head practically in my lap and that long, lingering hug at 1:30 a.m. like he didn’t want to let me go.
- I burned matches on the balcony like that androgynous girl from Submarine.
- I finally went to the Butterfly Gardens and had a mini adventure of pastures and pumpkins behind Fifield Hall.
- I became friends with another drug dealer, Abe from business speaking, and ended up buying modafinil for Jess from him.
- After exams, I chilled with Peyton, Amalie, and Jess at Nicolle’s apartment and then bought an edible from Jon at Oxford.
- I got my first B ever—in managerial accounting.
- I took an edible, got mildly high, and drove to Wacahoota Road for the second time. Staring at the cars below and watching the blazing clouds, everything about this semester—from Jack to meaningless shit and back to Jack again—came back. And I got the closure I needed. I went to Payne’s Prairie after and gazed at the sunset alone. *
* = any event/thought/person related to Jack
+ = we didn’t have sex
Fall 2016: An Analysis
I hate to write this, but these few months went through distinct transitional phases that I recorded haphazardly in my journals. 1) Deep liking of Jack, 2) Getting over Jack, 3) learning—and loving—how to be alone. The semester began and ended with boiling thoughts about that boy, an unremarkable one who stole my thoughts and schooled me in friendship alienation. But enough about him—too many words will be wasted on his fragrant sheets and courtyard convos later. I won’t go in the List order; general chronology is my only guideline.
Last semester, I was the typical clubbing slut—a skinny-torso girl clothed in $3.99 fabric and high heels whose pain was cured by drunkenness alone. Thursday Nights were the Grand Outings of my fraternity, the nights where pledges kissed brothers and vomit mixed with overpriced tacos in parking lots. It was our collective glory, our claim to downtown Gainesville fame. The Atlantic, the club that hosted Indie Nights, was the epicenter of our 20-year-old shitshow that inevitably appeared in the “Getting Crunk” Facebook page Friday mornings. This semester, however, Thursday nights were dead and pregames were whispers that never happened. Except for August 25th, at the beginning of the semester when people were still friends and drama-free texts existed. Carley Tanke was having a pregame at her apartment, so in a flurry of bare midriffs and glitter eyelids, Jess, me, and Emily drove to her place for the alcohol. And friendship. I guess. Her apartment was crowded with varying degrees of slutty girls—from bare chested Emma to flannelled Brandy. The beer pong table was a kaleidoscope of Lowe’s Christmas lights and solo cups filled with clear, lethal liquid. That I drained down my throat with a half-smiling grimace and a Spanish drinking chant (“Par arriba, par abajo…”). The highlight of that 2nd Ave night was the absinthe. A glowing emerald with a licorice scent, it sizzled holes in my mouth and loosened my personality more than Malibu or Bacardi. I picked up the Green Fairy in Prague, tucking it between t-shirts so the airport scanners wouldn’t see it (a faulty logic, I know). Other people hated it, but I relished the pure alcoholism in me. Unfortunately, the bottle was half empty since Jack + Co drank it at Carley’s last pregame. Speaking of, the boys of our quasi-group ditched us, leaving our downtown adventure penis and drama free. The Atlantic was a 15-minute walk from Carley’s, although in our twinkle intoxication, it was a concrete maze of sidewalk cracks, confusing lights, and beer advertisements. The Atlantic was empty. The dancefloor was a wasteland of past beer spills and the dirt of 2015 shoes. The stage up front, a desert without the vegetation. But once my gaggle of stick bitches came in, The. Night. Began. There’s something timeless (or ridiculous) about single girls screaming Spice Girls to each other in a deserted club. We grinded together, held sweaty hands, and shared bathroom stalls like public peeing was our pleasure. I was exhilarated, the stress of boys and being sexy gone, letting the high of the Fairy do its dirty job. Its dust coated me in pumping fists, white-rimmed lips, and a sore throat because I seemed to know every lyric to every song. Pop was my queen. I gave zero fucks about anything. Until Jess, my roommate, randomly left. We were supposed to bus home together, the sketchiness of a 2 a.m. conducive to late-night chats, rape, and creepers. I didn’t freak out—I was still too drunk to worry—and Lola hadn’t abandoned me yet. Skirting past the old smoking men (and by old, I mean 30) and Hispanic thugs, we caught the last Later Gator B as it trundled up to the courthouse. There was one other passenger: a young guy vomiting into the bus trash bin. Once Lola got off at her midtown stop, it was me and this retching fellow, the sole adventurers of a Thursday night. I reckon I had a better night than he did. The Later Gator eventually stopped at Gainesville Place, and I got out. I was the prime example of how not to college: as a smelly, drunk, and lonely bitch, I couldn’t get anything right. The two-way street stretched before me like an interstate, blurred and smelling like rubber. My heels were high and bleeding, my mind strangely determined despite the itchy contacts and dry mouth. I ran. I sprinted. I hiked my booty to my apartment in a mad dash of clacking heels and wild eyes. The poorly lit apartments melted past like dreams you try to recollect when you awake. Slippery but piercing, they were talking to me—egging me on—as two chimed to three and I finally unlocked my door. That night taught me self-reliance and the unreliability of other college students, even your roommates. We’re all just selfish brats waiting to be woken up by the real world. It also showed me the beauty of enjoying you, the real essence of you, the one without boys or trumped up conversations designed to showcase your fakeness. I was 100% me during Wannabe or any MGMT song the mainstream has netted and fried to popularity. And I loved it. That was the first Indie Night of only two and the first week of classes. What happened after, even my Streak of Tamed Debauchery didn’t expect.
I kissed three girls, all on the same night. To date (12.9.6), that brings the total number of distinct lips on mine to eight. But back to that Sunday night, when the Funday was high and the alcohol was once again unlimited. I’m convinced college is making me an alcoholic, but I don’t care. I gladly embrace the future solo shots and falling asleep in an empty bed while cradling gin. Isabel, a sweet, genuine-hearted person and her boyfriend, Logan, were at the apartment with Lola, Jess, and me. Somehow, we migrated from the living room to Jess’s bedroom in a heated round of dares that Jess (drunk and giggly) kept losing to Logan. His last dare, the one to whet his tongue and realify his imagination, was for Jess to kiss the three girls sprawled on her bed: me, Lola, and Isabel. I had never kissed a girl before, although on Jess’s sheets without music, dim lights, or sexy clothing wasn’t my ideal first time. She leaned her glasses close, I half-closed my eyes, and her clammy hands gripped mine. Her wet lips pecked mine as I immediately leaned back. It was a knee-jerk reaction, something that couldn’t be helped! I automatically snapped away from her face, the overt sense of “wrongness” destroying any kinkiness I wanted to cultivate. My first kiss with a girl sucked. So after Jess kissed Lola and Isabel, I insisted on trying again. In the end, all four of us ended up kissing each other, dare or no dare, as Logan drooled by the bedroom door. My kisses got progressively better, slower and lingering, like their long hair was cropped short and their baby-soft fingers were roughened. I discovered I wasn’t a lesbian that night and dreamy girl-crushes are different from snogging another female. Sunday night crept to Monday morning which clocked to 11 a.m. as my annoyance slipped to an all-time high.
I was dropping acid today. And my tripping friends were two hours late.
Drugs aren’t as glorious nor as deadly as they’re sensationalized to be. Yes, insanity for a few hours was mind-numbing bliss, but a comedown of imagined death and uncontrollable heart beats wasn’t peachy. I’m not sure when my good-girl lips said “yes” to drugs, but it was a spontaneous decision backed by Wikipedia and WebMD research. I didn’t need to escape anything or anyone—I wanted my mind to teeter on madness, to push my neurotransmitters to their bodily limit. Hallucinogens are fascinating, and while I don’t recommend tripping every Friday at noon, I will drop in the future. It’s difficult to write about my experience, even months later. My mom called just as I stuck the tab in my mouth, like she knew I was ingesting drugs at that moment. Even if moms don’t explicitly know, they know. The memories are clear and the motor skills were heightened, but the actual sensations—from feeling my legs to crunching leaves over thighs or seeing my face as a stranger’s—are indescribable. The dollhouse effect, the subtle dancing of images, a frothing ceiling: all of it is true. The peak happened on my balcony, a dirty looking glass of Walmart lawn chairs that nevertheless was the scene of sketch this semester. The sticky weather clung my shirt to my skin, but it felt so good running my palms up and down my legs. The music, oozing out of Alex’s expensive speaker, rippled the flooring. I could “see” the sound waves crawl to my hands and get sucked through like skin wasn’t a barrier. The music was a bouquet of live wires in me. Everything we—Jess, Casey, Lola, and I—said was gibberish, like every word was an inside joke. “Groot as fuck,” “We are fucking the Beatles,” and “Jay, write that shit down” are only a few of these nonsense nothings. The Outside was an exotic country of Gainesville Place parking lots, foreign and clear. Around 6, Jess called Jack to pick us up for Chapter. Online research implied LSD only lasted 6-7 hours; I thought my mind would be *crystal clear* for Chapter and any vestiges of DRUGS would be gone by 6:15. I was wrong. Sweating profusely and attempting to look cute for Jack, I couldn’t bear looking in my bedroom mirrors. My face was a stranger’s and it felt like a marionettist was pulling my facial muscles. That smile? Those raising of brows? Some higher hand pulled them taut, not my own voluntary system. Jack didn’t know the four of us were tripping balls—until we opened our mouths. The others prattled nonsense the entire car ride, but I was silent; Jack was so attractive and clear in the gloaming. Maybe it was drugs or maybe I was predisposed to adore his face, but inviting him back to the apartment later was natural. It was the first time he’d seen room and he dove for the Roman Sex book on my nightstand. We were together when I checked it out, and something out 69s and caricatured dicks delights any straight guy. Jack left. I wanted him to stay. As for chapter, our inside joke was “everyone knows”—they didn’t, but it felt like every word, every vague glance was a spotlight shining APHIO shame on our drugged-out bodies. The PowerPoint text was an undulating script, like a ribbon of words jogging underneath the news. Jess’s laptop background of flowers was swaying and everything was clarified and sweaty. The night was Publix milk and Gainesville Place strolls. The retention pond was a galaxy to Jess and me. We left, scared, and sprinkled a random tree with goldfish as we cried. We bonded with an inanimate object so much that actual tears sprung behind our glasses. LSD makes you emotional. It also induces manic, dire thoughts at 2 a.m. such as “why won’t heart stop thumping?” and “I can’t sleep because of the images in my eyelids.” Lola slept over because the paranoia—which was suppressed all day—crept up as Monday bled into Tuesday and Jess fell fast asleep. I called Assad as well. I thought calling him “meant something” romantic wise, but really, he conveniently texted me at 3:30 a.m. and happened to pick up. Being alone on LSD is hell, especially if it’s the first time tripping—fantastical scenes of death and potential obituaries shuffle on repeat, like your head is a Spotify playlist. Lola snored loudly, so I fell asleep on the couch at 4 a.m. I woke up at 8:51 a.m. for class at 10:40, which I attended despite the lingering film playing inside me. LSD was a lifetime of existential crises in one sleepless, bizarre, and fucked up day. It twisted my perspective on life and not a day goes by that I don’t think about it. To be fair, it’s definitely a gateway drug that made weed, alcohol, hookah, and Molly children’s play to me. It fucks with the mind, leaves not a trace on the body—the perfect high-achievers drug. The Lit Clique want to drop acid at the beginning of every semester—I dislike traditions, but I. Am. Down.
There was also a night where I got drunk, teetered on the tables in Carleton auditorium, and stole a stray HITT clicker, but that wasn’t important. I didn’t learn anything. Except that I like stealing.
A period of high Jack intensity characterized mid-September to mid-October. I don’t want to write it all. There were library hangouts, chicken nugget afternoons at Chick-fil-a, and Frida Kahlo museum trips. There were bedroom posters, Lord of the Rings nights, and bottles of my water that we shared by hot tubs. There was Assassins Creed. There was the West World premiere. There were sleepovers.
All this did was drill his attractiveness into me. His best feature—his scent—followed me everywhere. During lecture, I’d daydream about snuggling in his sheets with his body next to mine. I’d fancy his blue eyes were the best on campus. The first time I slept with him (just sleeping, after his party where I was a vomiting crossfade), I didn’t sleep a lick. I wanted to encode his breathing, his chin resting on top of my head, my arm slung over a matchstick body, into my thoughts. Despite my putrid breath and frequent peeing, it was my favorite night of the semester–all future mistakes aside. Although the hellish days after sucked, I wouldn’t forgo that September night for anything. That was the first time I hijacked his bed—the next (and last) time after, the apartment party before our snoozefest was interesting as hell.
Hurricane Matthew canceled classes in early October. Under the guise of “studying,” Jack suggested we skip art and ditch Marston Library for The Ridge—we went to BurgerFi instead. [Sidenote: BurgerFi is a delicious establishment that butters and toasts buns to perfection and has cute patty cookers.] Our notebooks remained unopened during an afternoon of meat, Books-A-Million, and the toys aisle at Walmart. He was mine for 24 hours, my male muse that jogged emotions and inspired R-rated fiction based 100% on my reality. Him and his roommates were throwing an apartment party and [*insert claim to fame*] I secured the alcohol through my Portuguese friend. Clemens will pop up later in this narrative. I adore his suave accent and scientific affinity for drugs—he’s a European Hamilton Morris without the Pharmacopeia show or John Lennon glasses. We began drinking at 9 p.m. and I didn’t stop until 1, bouts of smoking and hookah breaking up the alcohol. I wore a bralette and leggings, both skin tight and dark and oddly modest. I laughed with Carley and Brandy and Co, their fakery dissolving in my gin+tonic at first, then vaporizing in kiwi-flavored shisha. Around midnight, Jack and I smoked my cigars outside his door. The bass speakers beat Shaggy and Kanye into our bodies. The cigars burned our tongues and made us furling, smoking creatures that talked about future jobs and agnosticism. [A brief note about cigars: I only had four or five this semester, but I’m secretly afraid of addiction, that I’ll become a thin-haired burnout]. Trace opened the door and said “don’t wanna cockblock but [meaningless interruption I can’t recall]”, ruining our conversation. He left. More people came out, then eventually left too. “Jack, let’s do something.” “Like what?” “Let’s climb that tree.” “Okay.”
We drunk-climbed a tree together, our cigars locked between gritted teeth. Our words picked up where Trace cut them off, fears about careers and 45-year-old dissatisfaction disrupting the bark. Our heads nestled together around his lighter, our collective intakes of flame and tobacco creating lung cancer and one-sided love. At this junction of Hurricane winds and Jack’s hands, I met them: the younger, less douchy versions of Jack, Liam, Oskar, and Trace. Between leaves and Jack’s wild curls, I caught sight of four guys—jacketed and skyrocket tall—approach the Country Club (the whiteboy name for their apartment). Conventional “hello’s” meant nothing, but one of them—Rodrigo I later discovered—helped me out of the tree. If that’s not instant friendship, I don’t know what is. Between sinking couches and Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice”, I talked with these guys, asked them questions like “what’s your thing? What do you do?” and ended up getting Nathan’s number (inputted as Ya Boi Nathan *black hands emoji*). Nathan is black. Carlos and Rodrigo are Ecuadorian twins. Joe is a typical white guy. I don’t remember asking for Nathan’s number; he’s the type of person that baits thousands of fish, waiting for the one that equals his intellectual and creative ambition. I’m not his “person,” but he’s kept me around for two months now. I’m a hyperaware bitch, so I noticed Jack was missing around one o’clock and found him vomiting in his bathroom. I forgot about Nathan or the South American sexiness of his friends. I forgot about the free alcohol. I got Jack water in a coffee mug, toilet paper for his mouth, and waited out his puking. The first—and only—time I vomited was in that room, in that very sink. Red chunks, the vestiges of meat sauce and cranberry gin—flowed out like a broken sewage pipe. Vomiting alone was horrible; there was no way in hell I was letting Jack feel that way in his own room. Trace was there briefly, drunk and laughing; others came to snapchat Jack’s face in the toilet bowl; they all left to continue partying, but I stayed. It was probably part of my plan all along (why else did I pack deodorant and glasses in my backpack?), but I slipped into Jack’s bed at 2. He was half dying, half sleeping at the toilet with a pillow by his side. I assumed the tub was his mattress, but just as my eyelids were saying goodnight, he stumbled into his bed and crawled in beside me. I controlled my heartbeat—and my physical distance—better this time, although his breathing and cologne still dropped my heart into my liver. October 7th: the thrill of graying sheets, the solidity of a twig-like body wriggling next to mine. The 2 feet distance between us was the Atlantic Ocean, a watery depth I couldn’t cross after I swore “just friends” was what I wanted. But I woke up next to him, blind and unattractive as his arm stretched towards my face—he was grimacing, the photos of his toilet affair all over snapchat. He got up and left for the TV room, any awkwardness disappearing over the tea we drank and my English biscuits. We watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia until Trace drove me home at noon. Maybe my combat boots and bralette dropped superhuman confidence in me, but I still can’t believe I slept in his bed twice. I can’t believe he let me do it twice, too. I dropped by Saturday night to pick up my water bottles, choker, and dignity, going to Isabel’s party and then back to Jack’s later. Saturday night’s party was savage, with Trace fighting football players and random sorority girls freeloading the liquor. Jess and I got there at 3 and watched Mr. Roger’s on Liam’s bed with the goddamn clique until 4 a.m. I sometimes wonder how I’m still alive. It’s not the drugs that’ll kill me—it’s the sleep deprivation, poor diet, and crushing events that lace life with little meaning. Sunday: Jack’s “study” session turned into poolside Jenga, tanning, and Lord of the Rings with Lucy and Kelsey, a blonde ballerina that fulfilled every stereotype of her hair color. I’m still miffed that I bought Jack and Kelsey Hyppo pops one night—they barely squeezed out a ‘thank you’ and never dreamed of paying the $3.29 back. Whatever. Jack’s a chameleon; he adopts the demeanor of whoever he hangs out with (which explains why being alone with him is flawless). He stole the seconds of Monday and Tuesday, bringing me to his favorite spots on campus: the Aztec Garden and the courtyard of Norman library. Dreams and NPR podcasts filled our hours, and the smallest gesture (i.e. him drinking from my water without asking) was enough to thrillify my day. Why did I like him? Because he was cute, artsy, and interesting <horrible reasons>. Why shouldn’t I have liked him? Because he was fake, entitled, and never saved his leftovers at restaurants <damn good reasons>.
Enough about that white-boy breadstick. He dominated my emotions/girly conversations/journal entries, but not my other friendships or spontaneity.
*Why all the Pollock paintings? They represent the tangled chaos of this semester.*