An Analysis Of The Fuckery of Fall 2016 (Part Two)

B. Hoota

I randomly got my ears pierced at 11 p.m. one night at a sketchy tattoo parlor on University Avenue. That day, I was scribbling away at accounting homework when a whim gripped me: I deliberated on ear piercing for years, but on October 11th, I donned my fuck it beret and did it. I texted Jess: “Let’s go to the gym and get my ears pierced after.” “Okay cool; I’ll get my tattoo then as well.” So in a haze of spin bikes and group texts I wasn’t a part of, my girl gang of 6 hiked to BodyTech and altered our skin. Jess, Carley, and Lola wasted dollars on empty ink, while Riley and I stuck needles in our body. Brandy was the nose-pierced mom, dropping offensive jokes that weren’t funny but which made us all laugh anyways. Getting lobes pierced is uneventful, sleepy even. The gun clicked and the needles sunk studs into cartilage—and it barely hurt. The tingling felt good, like that sharp but sweet pain was validation of my breathing body. I snagged condoms from the bowl by the door, hoping possession of contraception would jazz up my sexual game. They didn’t help; I’m still a virgin. I almost lost my virginity this semester, but that awkward tale is a Pandora’s Box for another page. I’m so happy I crossed the Rubicon and pierced my ears—the impulsiveness was a piece of performance art for me, a physical reminder that I’m no longer the Welcome Mat girl from high school. I grappled with how to tell my parents I pierced my ears without explicit permission—I ended up writing “P.s. I got my ears pierced” in a letter I sent them. The blaze of passive aggression (i.e. What? Is a tattoo next?) and missed phone calls barely phased me; I was annoyed more than anything else. My parents are rich clampers, meaning I’m financially unlimited but socially constricted to behaving just like my sister. She’s a type A lawyer, so my so-called “wild streak” upsets their conservative tablecloth. I learned to handle the consequences of parental disdain, dislike, and disappointment; in all honesty, I wasn’t that bothered about it.

To date (12.10.16), I am comfortable friends or acquaintances with nine drug dealers (Jason, Matthew, Jon, Abe, Grayson, Clemens, Trace, and Ryan). I didn’t befriend these guys because of the drugs—rather, their dealings grew out of friendships of mutual weirdness, Portuguese salmon, and Nabokov. Half the time, I was unaware they dealt until eyebrows lifted, eyes became shifty, and sly drawers opened (@Abe and his modafinil). Four of them crushed on my supposed quirks and cutesy stoopà drug dealers gravitate towards me for some god-unknown reason. Here’s my theory: these drugged out entrepreneurs crave a normalish girl on the outside who drops acid, exudes hipster, and is the queen of banter. A small girl, practically a child who they can protect and coddle like the muse she is. Apparently I have a “crushable” personality, but I think these guys just fantasize about my breasts and long teenage hair. Either way, their friendships deadened the negative perception of drugs I previously held. Drugs aren’t fat-free yogurt, but they are not the villainous crystals the media portrays them as. Binge drinking is worse than occasional weed smoking, but society has vilified one while making John Hughes films out of the other. I don’t think drugs are outright “bad”; they’re a human’s vice of mind-expansion and sensation gymnastics. I’m not a druggie or a stoner. But I highly support Lucy and her sky of diamonds. My third dealer chum was Jon, a Mexican papi with a thriving empire of herbs and granddad sweaters. My friend was buying weed from his house one night, so I tagged along in the disaster of sky-high friends that went too. We ended up stumbling down Old Archer Road to Oxford Manor apartments at 1 a.m., just dodging the late-night traffic and laughing when we didn’t die. Jon’s apartment was a stoner’s dream, a rented kaleidoscope of couches, bongs, joints, blunts, and edibles. I wore my Biggie Smalls snapback that night and Eiffel tower pajama pants. I was not cool, at all. But Jon liked my Biggie obsession and Reggie Watts quips, his Xanax voice mixing with smoke rings until he became Bilbo Baggins. We made quasi-plans with Jess about exploring Devil’s Den the day after. I thought they were empty sentences, mere space fillers until Jon could ditch our naiveté for “cooler” people. But no—the next day, Jess, Jon, and I skipped Gator Growl and went to Cedar Key Botanical gardens. Random^^Unexpected^^Mystical: three words that described that afternoon of giant lily pads, Japanese flowers, and Chewy bars. The Garden was a theme park of hidden bridges and imported plants; it was also the backyard of the man who built the grounds. Giant swans accompanied our random but easy conversation, like I’d known Jon from childhood. The three of us became a mini squad, the most unlikely of trios to be seen in a West World style park. After, we went to a Japanese restaurant in Williston (a nothing town of interstate signs and farms). My avocado+rice in a champagne glass was fitting given the bizarre afternoon~.

I learned that drug dealers are often the savviest, friendliest, and most interesting people (I still haven’t befriended a female dealer yet). I buy from Jon now, but I’m so grateful our friendship is based on genuine liking, not herbal dependence. He taught me how to roll a blunt. He taught me the best way to store an edible. And he indirectly introduced me to Peter, a clingy creep that I fancied for a grand total of four days and then ghosted. But all that bullshit comes later; first, Jason and Assad.

 

Jason was notorious for his hardcore drugs and fascination with chemistry and nihilism. He wore a chain that had a mini scoop with an icon of Jesus on it—for his cocaine. Filipino but raised in England, he was shipped to Florida with an American accent he learned from Saved by the Bell. We texted all summer long—about drugs, Lolita, and our writing ambitions that college would never allow us to realize. As a prep school brat from Tampa, Holden Caulfield was his idol. It was Halloween night, and I was party hopping. I was a modest 70s cage dancer with pent up anger that Jack’s high school girlfriend was visiting that weekend. Repeated films of them kissing, fucking, giggling together naked were premiering in my brain. Jack or no Jack, the following mixture of boys was a fucked up halocline. I had asked Assad on a date earlier that week, and I kissed Jason at the second Halloween party. Jason was a fluke, a muddle of emotions in which I took advantage of his drunkenness. To be fair, Jason ignored me after I brought Jess with me to a dinner he invited me to <he was never specific>. We spilled downstairs in a mess, shouting T.S. Eliot poems to each other as we kissed against the stairwell. I guess it was romantic. I wished it was Jack the entire time. The Wednesday after, Assad and I went on our “date” (walking from campus to Modern Age to downtown back to campus). Humidity and apathy clung to me like moths, but I played along. He was my puppet, my bucket where I dumped problems he was happy to respond to {I am a terrible girl}.  I dragged him to the deserted baseball stadium, eye-rolling at his white-boy hesitation. He was too careful, too bland for my sophomore year self. For me, the stillness of the field—the shiny blackness of the stands—was creative peace at its finest. To Assad, it was a cesspool of “let’s get out of here” and fright. I asked to kiss him at 12:44 a.m.; maybe his lips would redeem our incompatible fibers, but no. It was a pretty fifteen minutes, but Jack’s freckled face floated behind my lids every second. Here’s what I learned from toying with guys I’m indifferent towards:  don’t fucking do it. The guy becomes a simpering playtoy and you become an apathetic bitch craving a satisfaction they can’t give you. At that point, I rather be alone than with someone I don’t find sexy or stimulating; plus, the overwhelming shittiness I felt was not pleasant. Dating substandards (i.e. Assad, Jason, Peter) to get over the ideal (Jack, Liam Hemsworth) is stupid. So why did I do it? I like kissing. I like doses of drama to fuel the novel. I like free lightsabers and I like text messages.

Also, I learned getting high to erase Jack-saturated memories was a dreadful idea. I ate an edible at Weekend (Aphio’s camping trip) and sleepwalked in a mind chamber of negativity, sadness, and jealousy. *Pro Tip: don’t take edibles if you’re an off-kilter psychotic with a knack for romanticism. *

I want to briefly mention the night of October 19th. It was an unplanned timeline of laughter, like Jess and I played connect the friendship dots with whoever was on campus at the time. Early evening began at 9 p.m. as we loosely planned our campus shenanigans <Lake AliceàAztec Garden à Marston à Wherever the Winds Blow>. The Lake Alice boardwalks disapproved of our phonelit stroll, especially when we walked under the “Do not pass after dark” sign. Our eyelashes trapped bugs and our mouths played on stupid words, stupid games, but Fuck Marry Kill (Aphio edition) was perfection in the gloom. We knew we were badass. After Lake Alice, we went to the Aztec Garden behind Museum Road. It’s not an actual garden, but a concrete courtyard with a plastic Aztec Calendar mounted in a patch of shrubs. I climbed onto the calendar, seating my ass in a crevice and declaring myself Queen of this underrated, runty courtyard. I’m a “fuck it” girl with the caution of a mid-sized rebellion, but that night, I forgot about cameras or UFPD. This semester taught me the difference between a big deal and sneeze; climbing on Chinese plastic qualified as a mere cough. My eyes zeroed in on the table Jack and I wasted an afternoon at—talking about lucid dreams, our sexy German TA, etc., but I looked away. Why ruin the humidity with his 6’2 bullshit? We left the dimness for Jess’s friend (Finsta: Josh Dela Cock) at Marston Library then met Assad at Hough Hall. He commented first on my bralette/sports jacket attire, sounding judgmental and flirtatious in the same breath.  On the second floor balcony, I hopped onto a wired table and stared out at Little Hall, the matchstick of Century Tower, the water plant. The railing was inches below my knees and a guilty desire to jump—to feel the wind cup my midriff and double-clipped hair—seized me. I didn’t leap. Assad shifted on the ground, as if he was about to drag me back at any moment. I forced him onto the table, spreading my arms wide like this campus—this southern ivy league—was more than artificial bricks or land grants. It was our fucked up haven for four years, displacing any childhood memories from towns of our youth. I can’t recall being a real person before college started. At 12, I left Assad to his solo Presidential Debate viewing party. Jess and I met up with Ella and Gaston outside Pizza By The Slice, a delicious grease hut of drunks and fatasses (I was the second category). People-watching sluts is the highest entertainment, a museum of college drudgery I usually exhibited in. It was Wednesday night (or was it Thursday?), but the kids were crawling around town, dying to kill time with Smirnoff. I ended up at Murphree, lounging on Ella’s floor as Gaston played Led Zeppelin on the guitar. He had a cute face with a cute heart, but I didn’t know much below the surface. He always wore dad jumpers and khakis with a permanent stoner expression on his face. My contacts were dry and my hair was sticky, but it was an acoustic ending to an electric night. This was only one of several novel-worthy days this semester; the suckiness of daylight makes me forget the exquisiteness of midnight. There was New Girl at Juan’s, cigars with Casey, a four-mile-long bitchfest with Brad—my issue is dwelling on the drama rather than genuine people.

One of these genuine friends was Nathan, the filmmaker beast with long legs and Navy Toms that I met during Hurricane Matthew. While I was in a tree. Smoking cigars. With Jack. Our beginning was coincidental, but the timing of our crossroads must’ve been fate or destiny or a very shrewd god. He was just “Ya Boi Nathan” in my phone, but our creative similarities were kindred spirits that fueled off each other, inspired each other. What if I didn’t text him after Jack’s party? What if I never slurred “Did you know I’m a writer?” on that Thursday pregame? There would be no 10 p.m. runs to Modern Age, no longboard lessons on terrazzo floors, no film scripts. Despite all the drugs and awful decisions, he was a positive influence on me this semester (creative wise). I rewrote the boundaries of my writing, kneading—threading—waxing—the words until their vowels were a distinct reflection of my voice. He made me want to be Gertrude Stein without the lesbianism, the Nora Ephron without daddy issues. I strove to equal his videography skills with my fresh set of sentences and ideas. Carlos and Rodrigo—his roommates—were attractive Ecuadorians, but Nathan said they were lazy and not creative; in short, hotter repetitions of Liam, Oskar, and Jack. Although I had more fun at the Carillon concert with Carlos + Co than I ever did at the Country Club…It’s too early to tell when Nathan will ditch me, but I have an uncanny feeling he won’t. “When my company takes off, I’m going to hire you as a writer.” Okay Nathan, okay.

The next few paragraphs are painful. Here’s a condensed version of what happened: after the Jason/Assad fiasco, I resolved to swallow the unsaid tension and confront Jack. I had to tell him everything, the truth about my crush and disgusting longevity of it. Art history was canceled Thursday, so I planned on telling him after section on Friday…until the cruelty of fate tripped me again. Just as I was walking towards my 38 bus, Jack stepped out of the 125 and our eyes met. I followed him into Starbucks, laughing like my heart wasn’t drowning and joking like very word wasn’t poisonous. We sat down on the concrete benches outside the Hub, my coffee disappearing under the gravity of nerves. *meaningless conversation* “Jack, I had my date with Assad last night.” He looked away towards the grass. “Yeah? How’d that go?” “I didn’t feel anything.” “Why?” A sharp intake of air to rival all other breaths. “Jack, I’ve liked you for a really long time.”

He paused.

“I know.”

I just got Han Solo-ed by a string bean hipster.

I wish Jack was a dick about it, but his kindness only wedged the arrow deeper in my chest. If anything, our seamless conversation after reinforced the idea that we belonged together. We loved art, Star Wars, rap music, and Tame Impala’s “Cause I’m a Man.” What else could he want? Physical attraction and sluttiness, I guess. With that simple utterance “Jack, I’ve liked you for a really long time,” every atom of our dynamic realigned, changed for the worse. Our sleepover season was dead. Our Lord of the Rings nights unwatched. The worst part is, Jack knew how I felt since last semester—I’m sure it was obvious (Um, Wacahoota Road?). But he still shared his sheets and saliva, playing with me the way I screwed over Jason and Assad. The universe is a fair bitch, but it sucks to get caught on the wrong side of fate.

Thursday night, Clemens cooked me salmon and potatoes with a foaming champagne smoothie. Clemens is a shady character. He reminds me of a Portuguese mafia leader with gelled hair, wild youth stories, and cobwebbed vaults of Euros. He flies to Geneva, Switzerland for castle orgies, trips on LSD on Lisbon mountaintops, and miraculously attends school with me. What? Who is this creature? I’ve learned that even the hokiest cities—the smallest dots on maps—harbor the most burning people. Shouting over a Cheetah Girls music video, he asked “You wanna take some Molly tonight?” Shit. Ever since LSD, I’ve prized my supposed drug invincibility. If I can conquer the king, I can kill the peasant, right?

“Okay.”

I didn’t say “no” a whole lot this semester, which explains the 1000 messes I created. The crystals dissolved in the tap water like a lemonade packet mix. Jess and I shared the glass while Clemens disappeared for a few minutes. We thought nothing of it until he stumbled down the stairs, crashing face first into a pile of fresh laundry on the couch.

“Oh, you know, I just took some Quaaludes,” he slurred in his European drawl. My friends import drugs from South Africa. My friends incorporate creative agencies. My friends pet llamas at Machu Picchu.

 

It was my fault, really, since I mentioned a VICE documentary on Quaaludes I watched that afternoon. In his stumbling drunk state and our pupil-widening one, we ubered to The Atlantic. Molly Lesson Part 1: 80s music, especially Phil Collins, is fucking amazing on drugs. The club wasn’t a starry-eyed stream of pop music and “me time” (unlike that September outing). Aphio people crowded the sweating stage, but I didn’t feel the Molly as the movies depict it. I wasn’t raging on the floor, unable to stop dancing or throwing myself on guys. Quite the opposite: I felt depressive and tired and only certain songs (i.e. MGMT’s Electric Feel­) harmonized with my aura. That one song was like five minutes of peak LSD, all sensation and mind pictures. When Peter drove us home at two o’clock, I had a normal heartbeat and disappointed expectations. Molly Lesson Part 2: Sometimes drug effects are underwhelming and nothing like the films. Also, don’t eat inordinate amounts of starch (goddamnit potatoes) if you want to feel the full effect of them.  However, when we reached the apartment, my pupils were massive and watercolors of emotion flooded over me. Clemens stripped immediately and slept under my sheets like a drugged-up baby while Jess and I shared her bed. We cried until 4 a.m. Physically, the Molly did nothing except sharpen images of the world the next day (like LSD). My mind was a wind chime, changing and jangling with every new thought or impression that struck me. I learned that I didn’t like Molly that much—my dosage was incorrect, but I found it too overrated and bipolar for my liking. Although the walk back to Clemens’s apartment (Jess and I had to get our cars) was strangely peaceful and hilarious; Carlos even witnessed our 34th street swagger.

Molly Lesson Part 3: Don’t EVER mention your drug intake to guys that fancy small females with an affinity for wild. @Peter. Before the Peter drama, I need to backtrack to Jack– the annihilation of Jack for good.

I am a writer. A flowery, biting one that exaggerates every sentence (have you read this piece?) I published “How to Not Lose Your Mind In College,” a jabbing ode to this semester, on Huffington Post. There were a few lines that indirectly mentioned “the clique,” but I never dreamed their dull eyes would read my work. I posted the link to Facebook, but blocked the certain clique members just in case they decided to be literary. Here was the contentious paragraph:

****

  1. Diversify your friend group

This first category wrecked my October and muddled my thoughts for a long while. I became entranced by this one particular “clique” and fancied myself part of their extraordinary lifestyle. I was fooled by their wild snap stories, Jordanian hookah pipe, and thriving sense of vitality they exuded—at least I thought. At one point, I was spending nearly every day with these people, a feverish kind of dependency that left me lonely if I wasn’t with them. However, I was the extra girl on the fringe, one that stuck around because of a boy but wasn’t part of the inside-joke group.  To get happy again: I stopped crashing their apartment and started befriending people that weren’t as false, hypocritical, and judgmental.

****

Looking back now, I was stupid to post this. My writing was good—damn good—but I underestimated the audience of gossiping, critical APHIO people. Somehow, the clique members found this piece and this frustrated rant backfired in my face. Carley and Brandy cornered me in a group text. Trace sent me a screenshot of the offending paragraph with the words “I want an explanation.” The single period was death. My APHIO circles buzzed with chisme, and I was the cut-up girl caught in the middle. Suddenly, I wasn’t the sweet midget anymore; I was the bitchy author with little regard for “cool” people. APHIO events after were hell. Art history with Jack was an unbearable 50 minutes of dim lights and tension. We stopped talking, stopped snapping, stopped everything. We both skipped class frequently to avoid each other.

This is the third time my wordy opinions have gotten me into trouble. First, Laurelle Miles thinks I’m the devil because I wrote “She reeked of un-adventure and ‘good girl,’ but being a scared piece of bland meat myself, we got along perfectly.” Ouch, that’s understandable, but I rather her confront me like TRACE instead of ghost my text messages. Second, Fabi chewed out my guilty ear after I published “Family tension that had been bubbling all vacation flew over my head and rolled my eyes—how could anyone be sour in Ancient Rome, the capital of delicious history and sensuality?” in a Roman travel article. I hate lying in my writing—that contradicts the point of prose—but I’ve learned to keep my mouth (and fingers) shut. I’m going to create an anonymous shlog (a shit blog), where I roast my enemies in elegant articles they will never read. Pen Name: Bedřich Hoota (after B. Smetana and Wacahoota Road).

However, this is Exhibit of Fate Part B. If this article wasn’t published, if the entire clique didn’t hate and gossip about it, I would still be hooked on Jack’s long-sleeved shirts and cologne. A falling out of this magnitude was necessary to bandage my sanity and thicken my writing skin at the same time. I crossed the Rubicon, I burned a village of bridges, but I don’t regret the publish button. Everyone in Aphio says “speak your mind,” but that’s a lie that only applies to parading gay rights or celebrating liberalism. Mentioning the fakeness of others (and their shit talking) doesn’t count. Those few days—and weeks after—were hell; it felt like Aphio was ganging up on my truth and ostracizing me. In reality, Liam was the only motherfucker throwing me dirty looks. Carley and Brandy were their phony selves and Jack picked up a new muse, Sheila. A German cunt with a broad, plain face and obsession with weed, her shallowness was perfect for Jack. She equaled—if not surpassed—his unoriginality, his selfish belief in how “cool” and “dude” he was. During speed rush, back in the innocence of early September, she asked Casey and me “Why do you think life is beautiful?” I said “I really like someone, and what I feel about him is beautiful, pure.” Now, Sheila is fucking Jack. I am not fucking Jack. There’s nothing special about being a conforming bitch, Sheila, even if you’re skinny with pin-straight hair. What about Cara, Jack? Are you dating both at the same time? I learned that guys are superficial dicks that’ll trade societal beauty over intelligence and wit any day. I’m almost done writing about him, almost.

And then Peter fucking happened.

I thought the hellish combination of Jack, Molly, and Slander would force me to reevaluate my decision making process. It didn’t. A twiggy boy with a weed addiction, Peter had a face that only became attractive after prolonged exposure to it. That lethal Indie Night was the start of our rocky week of {one-sided} romance. I friended him on Facebook on Friday, he messaged me on Saturday, and our pithy conversations turned into a smoking session on Sunday night. I invited him the apartment, feeling tingly and fuzzy like this 22 year-old could erase any memory of Jack or Huff Post. My high spiraled downward until I could barely walk—or talk—or feel anything except a dim mind haze. When he left, he lifted me like a child into his arms, embracing me under our rotting door. It was weird. But under the herbal influence, I thought his semi-pedophilia was endearing.

Monday. We hung out on campus. I drove him home to Oxford Manor. He asked to kiss me. I said yes. I slithered out of my tank top and into his hairless arms. He fingered me. I orgasmed for the first time. I gave him a hand job. I swallowed the wrongness of the situation and imagined we’d date forever. With this deadly slush of confusion, no wonder my period was three weeks late. It’s impossible for me to imbue these words with any passion, any real attachment. From the beginning, I was a character in a film, like every action was dictated by a Times New Roman, font 12 script. Tuesday. He snorted cocaine and then drove to Gainesville Place. We walked past the cow pasture and into a residential neighborhood. We kissed by a retention pond while listening to a new Strokes song. He fingered me at home again and then ate me out. I didn’t orgasm. I didn’t want to have sex. Every morning, “Good morning babe” flashed in my phone like Peter was entitled to be my boyfriend. He was the personification of a gross flaw to me. He slept over Thursday night because I was drunk and vulnerable. I felt guilty waking up beside him on Friday, like my parents would know what a slut their child had become. He watched me get ready, a slimy shadow in my doorway that reminded me of Randall from Monsters Inc. In reality, he wasn’t as villainous or pedophiliac as I paint him. More separation from him = more time to dwell on his minor mistakes. After I stopped texting him back, his clinginess skyrocketed with messages such as “Did I upset you?”, “Why are you ignoring?”, “Tell me what I did wrong, I’m a big boy, I can handle it.” He even messaged Jess about me. He wouldn’t leave me alone digitally, and everything semi-sweet about him transformed into whiny aggression. I was forced to meet him on campus to give his gray Henley back. He first blurted out “so what happened,” accosting me outside the J school like nearby pedestrians didn’t exist. “I just wasn’t feeling it.” “Okay.” Awkward side hug. “You still want to be friends.” {In my head: fuck no, you creep}. “Sure.”

I assumed it was a blanket statement, a necessary sentence that every ex couple says but doesn’t mean. Two days after, he texted me, “You want to hang out one last time?” How did he miss the obvious meaning of my sardonic ‘sure’? I didn’t respond for a few hours, prompting a novella of dickish messages I was too drained to respond nicely to.

“Tell me if you don’t want to be friends, I can take it.”

“I don’t think hanging out is the best idea.”

“Fine. Have a good life then I guess.”

I sent him the clinking beer glasses emoji, hoping the sarcasm conveyed ‘fuck you’ as well. Three hours later, my phone buzzed with “Please just tell me what I did wrong.” I didn’t respond. This account is painting me as a first-rate bitch, but Peter was an angsty creep that only wanted to maul my breasts. I was picking up Jon to get coffee a few weeks after, and of course, we see Peter longboarding in Oxford TO AND FROM Starbucks. Coincidences are cruel, especially when they occur in pairs.

The Peter fiasco was horrible, but I don’t regret the sky-high nights or confrontational texts. I learned 1) getting eaten out is splendid, 2) don’t be a thirsty bitch, 3) don’t date anyone who does cocaine more than once, and 4) clinginess is 1000x worse than inattention. I’m so grateful I didn’t have sex with Peter—or with any of these guys. While these petty dramas are grand learning experiences, sex would’ve been a capital regret. I did one thing right.

A period of normality followed the end of Peter: I applied for a study abroad program in Berlin, I did a beach cleanup at Saint Augustine, and I tasted ghost pepper sauce for the first time. My eyes streamed and my tongue was crying for milk, but the discomfort was eons better than my human headaches. I would’ve chugged the whole goddamn bottle to redo a few key mistakes. With the weeks winding down, only a few bleeps disrupted the sweater-weather calm. Juan, my pancake chum with a cutesy face, loved binge-watching New Girl with me. Before Thanksgiving break, we ogled Jess and Nick while eating leftover apple pie together. His head was practically in my lap and when I left at 1:30 a.m., his hug was long and lingering, like he didn’t want me to go home. I think we had a “moment,” whatever that vague terms meant. We snapchatted and texted all break, with casual phrases like “cutie” and “I lov u” dropping out of his thumbs. We watched a movie, Submarine, at my apartment Tuesday night. Depressive with typical British gloom, we somehow laughed the entire film with our knees touching under the blanket. The female protagonist was a pyromaniac, lighting more matches than cigarettes she smoked. Because of her debonair, boyish look, I copied her quirk and tried to make it my own. Alone, I sat on the freezing balcony and wasted matches with gin and a TED talk. Burning matchsticks is exactly like sucking on Tic-Tacs. The initial—and lasting—pleasure is brief, but acute. The tingling of mint, the pyromaniac delight that lasts for 10 seconds: it’s the same small joy, the same part of the brain that lights up in a scanner. I’ll love matches until they burn me. But until then, I’m content to waste 12 cent wood.

Nothing happened with Juan. I am so happy nothing did. He had the foresight to scrap any romance since kisses—and future sleepovers—would wreck our special friendship. It was one of freshmen physics and Bisquick batter and ridiculous jokes. Of Christmas socks and learning about strawberry diversity in plants class. I learned that a few boys (one or two) aren’t assholes or dicks waiting for a prettier face. Some are keepers and will always be there for you, reciprocated romance or not.

The Golden Era Of Being Alone

 

The last few days of the semester—after the accounting squad passed managerial with B’s and Jack fell off my art history radar—approached. Butterfly Gardens and Fifield Hall pastures were hours of Converse and mute reflection. I understand myself best, so prattling to a third party (i.e. Jess, Liana) does me little good. However, the adventures of December 7th were half risky, half brilliant and a perfect end to imperfect months. I took a half edible at noon, got mildly high, and went 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. That Road symbolized the beginning and the end, the excitement of newness and the dull need for closure. A few cars trundled by, but I was completely alone on the sidewalk. I must’ve appeared a wistful, suicidal figure to the cars below, but I didn’t care about them. They didn’t know—would never know—what a Transformation Tuesday girl I was. Thankfully, mosquitos didn’t ravage my legs like last time and I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. It was just me and the rubber shavings and Walmart semis. After, I drove to the Payne’s Prairie observation deck and stared at the browned trees, the popping marshes for a while. The sunset was gleaming on the landscape and the vegetation blurred towards the horizon. A man was easel painting at the boardwalk’s end, and I felt like a filler character in an Impressionist work. I was a functional high, but the drive home was jittery, like my hands were disconnected from my brain. What I learned (1): don’t drive high, even if you have control over motor skills. What I learned (2): I will never find a best friend as good as myself.

Without Jack, without a boyfriend, without a solid group of friends, I quit living for this semester. I flew under Wacahoota Road on the drive home. That road, a skinny strip of debris and foreclosed sheds, means so much to me. It’s the essence of college wrapped in tarmac, my youth in a bypass. And I’ll disappear under it again on January 2nd, 2017, with momma’s pre-cooked meals and a clean slate for Spring’s mess.

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