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Our floor is an anomaly of college dormitory life. Twenty girls sharing the same bathroom, still after two months, don't know each others' names. Shutting the doors and shutting out each other, no one speaks. Signs of acknowledgment are barely perceptible, marked with quick, thin-lipped smiles when walking down the hallway. Probably despairing over her failure as the perfect RA, Leighan in her cute perkiness vainly attempts to bring us together, but it began wrong. However, when I talk to my friends on the outside, I lie, telling them that these girls are the best people; we're just like sisters.
He's on his way, probably with the windows rolled down, letting the wind flip through his hair that desperately needs a haircut. There's probably a little furrow between his eyebrows caused by staring at the windshield glare. On his nose sits his new pair of sunglasses, his lenses immaculate, more so at least, than mine. Every second that passes on the clock, the anticipation rises- he's coming to me, he's almost here. And every second that passes, he's diminishing the distance, both in mind and miles, between us. I've been waiting for this moment for so long . Hurry, love.
It's only so funny to hear the excited squealing of my youngest sister over the phone for the simple reason that she despised me last year. For a time I couldn't reach her: I was in exile. And selfishly, I figured it to be her fault. I never asked her outright why I was the object of her hatred, but miraculously enough, whatever that bothered her about me ceased to exist and I discovered a friend in my sister. She's such an old soul, nothing like the teenagers of her year, and it's both amusing and a comfort to me.
It was an afternoon stolen from the summer, a gift from the gods. In the shadows of the sand dunes, I leaned against one of the giant mounds, cradling his head on my lap as he slept. With the amber grass bleached by the sun dancing lazily above my head and the deep blue of the Atlantic at my feet, I let my fingers make the smallest of caresses through his thick salt-filled hair and let the memories overcome me. Freezing moonlit escapades. Waking to the sun breaking over the water. Teaching me how to surf. All these with him.
My internal clock wakes me well before his, and I lie awake quietly as the sun comes gently through the curtains into the room. I don't have time to regret the fleeting hours I have with him each visit, but take the sweetness of these moments. With my eyes, I trace the contours of his funny nose and delicious cheekbones, the delicacy of his eyelashes and the smooth, sloping expanse of his back that rises and falls with every breath. Dropping a small kiss on a freckled shoulder, I pretend to go back to sleep, his arms encircling me firmly.
"Ohhhhhh, lord." It's a small room, crammed, each woman inching closer and gazing agitatedly at the stalls. "Ohhhhhh, sweet baby Jesus." Anorexic, squat, ugly, club-footed, hare-lipped: all differences are set aside in one common thought--what a mistake it was, having that extra-large Coke. The last stall door creaked open, and fourteen pairs of eyes followed enviously the little old lady who tottered precariously to the porcelain god. In front of me, the big black woman invoked another epithet of her god once again, and as for me, well, I just hoped there was enough toilet paper to go around.
I hate Tuesday mornings. Just when I think I'm too far behind, just when I'm already planning the caffeine intake for those long hours of studying into the night, just when I'm beginning to suffer the sharp pangs of panic at all the online Chem Skill Builders I have left to do before Tuesday, just when I think I can't do the dilutions, stoichiometric conversions, molarity, net ionic reactions, and limiting reagents anymore--- I get a hundred on a really hard quiz. And I revel in my warm, sunshiny solitary ray of chemistry hope and go to hit the books.
Maternal advice to me before college: don't start drinking coffee. I'm staring into my third emptied Styrofoam cup. How could she say that while I watched my father have his five daily cups of coffee? For years, I bitterly resented him the task of making his coffee that he fixed on me... I hated everything he asked me to do. Fix your own damn coffee, I thought. Isn't it sad when a girl dislikes her own father? Now, it's the least I can do for my father, to make his coffee, since I never see him or talk to him.
Wisteria. Purpleness. Long vines of the stuff climbed high up the reddish walls. My fingers itched to pick one for pressing into my journal of sorts, but plucking blossoms from the Generalife seemed a desecration to its perfection (and it wasn't permitted). The rose vines were dry and puckered, but I could imagine the great summer blooms dripping from trellises that arched over our heads. The fog clung to the countryside and the sleepy little town nestled in the valley that morning in spring, in much the same way that it embraces the buildings right now. My purple flowers. Wisteria.
I haven't been home in awhile so I was growing a wee bit homesick. After the hectic whirlwind of late, I wanted to be reminded exactly why I wanted to escape to college. The welcome was entertaining- dog barking, children shrieking, teenage girls chattering and Mom in the background with happy tears in her eyes. It's different though, as I knew it would be. With no room to call my own, I was relegated into sharing a room with my sister, something I haven't done in eleven years. I'll never be too old to find comfort in my mother's hugs.
I've been discovering a lot of things about my mom in the last few months, some of which have seriously upset me. It would be nice for her to be more consistent instead of deciding one day that I'm mature enough to discuss some "issues" and then another day blatantly ignore this maturity when she imposes ridiculous restrictions. Just talking to her lets me understand her better... I wish we had been a normal family. This afternoon, it made me laugh in my shock how indignant she was becoming over the Bryan situation, and how she wholeheartedly "got my back."
I call her Inner Jealous Girlfriend. Her stupidly irrational temper tantrums are as irrepressible as those tidal waves that knock out small villages and just as ferocious. I hate her. She's pouty and possessive; she's shrewish and suspicious. She is Shakespeare's green-eyed monster incarnate. Beware—good common sense quavers before her, sometimes abandoning the scene. No, the major problem isn't my Inner Jealous Girlfriend, but my Inner Non-Confrontationist. I despise her. She needs to wake up and realize that these problems can't be handled passively. I wonder why I'm lacking the guts to ask the questions…all I'll get are answers.
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A boy and a girl zipped along to class on a bicycle built for two; he, the wind in his hair, she, skirt fluttering about her legs. They were smiling. I knew an elderly couple who, at sunrise, used to go out on their own bicycle for two. He was still a strong, virile man, but her humped back from osteoporosis was only one testimony of Time's assault on her body. No matter—every clear morning they cycled, their thin legs pumping unhurriedly in unison. They were always smiling. His wife died last spring. I don't see him cycling anymore.
Waiting is definitely the worst part. I wait a long stretch of half an hour in the equivalence of a paper tablecloth covering my naked body. I feel awkward. The cold air from the air conditioner raises goose bumps all over my skin and makes me feel even more naked. And so I wait and stare at a poster on the wall. No worries. I exhale, trying hard not to look as vulnerable as I feel. It's just a thing you have to do as an adult. This new pressure of being responsible for myself keeps me on my toes.
I will now write one hundred words on not being able to write one hundred words. MUSES! WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME? With ready fingertips poised over the keyboard, I wait a few seconds longer. Absolutely nothing. Zip, zero, zilch, nada. Witticisms, observations of beauty, a question answered-- something real eludes me, disappearing like the wisps of smoke from the joint A Boy was smoking that night. I can't even tell the person I love the most what I'm feeling right now, let alone say something intelligent today. Four words left; I can do this. El fin. Telos. The end.
Overheard cell phone snippets: "Hey, slut-face!" "I'm the alpha male in this relationship!" "Mom, I'm not an asshole." "Wait for me, please wait." "And it's not like he can now break up with a girl who followed him to three universities so they could stay together all this time." "I told her I loved her and she threw up on me." "Sigma Phi social at 8! Ken and Barbie theme!" "That whale! As if she has the right to say you're fat!" "Have no fear, the beer is here!" "Yeah, I'm lucky, I have the only English-speaking TA." "Bye, pookie."
Are you happy playing phone tag every other night, ten minutes at a time? You feel it too; I know you do, those nights when hanging up the phone hurts more than watching me when you drive away, because there is a void that wants completion. I give you silences because everything I want to say sounds more like the person that I dread becoming. You don't know what's wrong, and you won't ask, wishing that I would come to you. It's one of those nights when one hundred fifty-one miles may as well be one hundred fifty-one thousand miles.
Broken promises are infinitely worse than the promises that were never made. The promises that were never made-- oh, those words pause on earnest lips, wanting to be said, the moment demanding that they be said, but they never come. A word is dead, said Emily Dickenson. The moment passes and disappointment is inevitable, but doesn't compare to the pain of hope and expectation killed. I built my stupid hopeful ignorant self up on those spoken words. A promise is binding. A promise is forever. But people change, they grow up and they grow away and the promises are irrelevant.
The Dark Ages. Movies slide into our consciousness, inconsequential and irrelevant, EXACTLY like last season's cinematic endeavors. Not since the innovative antics of the Beatles has anything really revolutionized the band scene: a singer, a drummer, two guitarists. On the radio today, what does one hear? Innumerable acts of the same stuff, flitting in and out of society's awareness, merely five seconds of limelight, the same band over and over again. What happened to original literature? Are novelists rehashing the same plot time and time again? Journalism, art, television, good grief! It's time for a cultural renaissance, here, now, today.
I tried to drown out the achy feeling tonight. In good company and hanging out with a new friend, the lecture prodded and poked the unused parts of my brain. I was still bugged. I looked at my roommate and her supposed "best friend" and I couldn't understand their relationship. When someone ignores you, manipulates you, talks about you behind your back, and uses you for your money, the rational thing would be to leave them to bite the dust. But who has ever let themselves see a good relationship turned bad? As it's been said, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
There's too much undirected passion and emotion primed to spring from young people. It's one of the reasons why they make good activists--only good, not great, because inexperience is still a millstone. The world is a huge place with so many ideas and people and things approaching all the time, that throwing oneself into a cause not only gives a person purpose, but compresses the magnitude of it all into something more controllable. It's easy to get lost in this world. That's the reason we have politicians, environmentalists, poets, and lovers. We all need somewhere to direct these passions.
Adding color is irrelevant; it undermines detail. For me who harbors wistful fantasies of capturing the world with a pencil, the satisfaction lies with studying subtleties and the effect of light: black versus white versus gray. Graphite spills on paper to express the shadowed area beneath a strong jaw line and the subtler one defining an Adam's apple. Shading, it's the paler gloss on already lighter hair. My pencil scratches the paper, showing contrast between dark lashes against fair skin or the distinct lines of cheek and nose. Selfishly, I keep from the world the relentless blue of his eyes.
Who can help but swoon over male voices in song? The sweet cadence of tenors, the richness of baritones, and the chocolate-like smoothness of basses all harmonized into one incredible vibrato keep me wide-eyed at the edge of my seat. Its deliciousness lies in its rarity and break from the norm. I revel in the show of masculinity. These guys are proudly unafraid to admit that they sing and love it. From the Celtic chanty in desolate lilting tones to the powerful gospel air with notes deeper than I thought possible, I lose myself in their music, in those voices.
I tottered into the one-person kayak, fell ungracefully into a wet seat while almost losing my footing as I shoved off, and barely grabbed the double-ended paddle at the very last second. With the wind behind me, I moved swiftly down its width of 500 meters. Pull and inhale; pull and exhale. The wind fell and I glided over cold glassy waters that mirrored overgrown oaks at the lake's edge. All the visitors faded away into silence as I went around a bend. Don't tell me that Florida isn't beautiful. I met the stare of an alligator, and it agreed.
Too early. The sun came up too early this morning. I lied quietly, relishing my extra hour abed. Too early. Only five o'clock and it's already too dark to roam the city safely alone. Six months of this, my personal welcome to winter, where the nights are long and the days are short, where we have to savor our short sunlight and make our evolutions to habitants of the darkness. The twilight that is ignored during warmer, summery months creeps forth for acknowledgement. Chilly twilight, windy twilight, mysterious twilight-- another six months until balmy sunshine hails the return of normalcy.
Everything's been falling into place even though I haven't found my niche yet, and calculus is still biting me in the ass. October's been the month for new acquaintances, maybe something more. The funniest way I met people was unintentionally coming across four people more hopeless at calculus than I—three hours of no studying later we go get dinner. I met Naika at the picnic, both soaking our pants kayaking. And leprechaun Dan makes me laugh with Count Wagman imitations in Egypt class. That horrible feeling of displacement I had in the beginning of the semester is almost gone.
I can smell baking cookies that we're going to share. Like half the girls right now, I'm doing my part to open my room and myself up, letting my Elliot Smith drift out into the hallway. It's taken long enough. Sorority chicks are still dumb, but the girls are starting to break out of their shells, and it's so nice for everyone to pop their heads into doorways for a quick hello or begin a conversation over some unique knick knack that drew attention in passing. And it's been agreed: morning conversation in the bathroom is impossible so it's excusable.
The perfect pink rosebud and note rested on a random windshield, beckoning to be examined by The Hopeless Romantic. But the note broke my heart—"Sandra, This will be the last note you will get from me. I know they always upset you because you read only what you want to. I'll love you always. Wally." Every quavering pen stroke showed regret. Things like that don't happen in real life… I had taken a stolen glance into the most personal of private moments that no one else was meant to see. I brought out my camera to finish the desecration.
With his pointed, expressive face and rusty-tinted locks, Dan made the perfect leprechaun. Giving me a devilishly mischievous look, he stuck the emerald green bowler atop his head at some jaunty angle. He watched amusedly as I plucked through costume after costume in the tiny shop, applauding the French maid and Catholic school girl outfits, but he knew perfectly well I was prowling for something else. Why?! Why must everything be sluttified for Halloween?! The nurse-slut, the cop-slut, the buxom mermaid…I can't do that…yet. Nothing funnier can top our matching mariachi outfits and the sombreros that fell over our faces.
The twilight's come in, and in an hour, we revelers will commence our merry-making while our young counterparts will begin their rounds trick or treating for the biggest sugar fix they will have all year. Half-full tonight, the moon spills light behind those clouds for us to go about our business and just maybe I'll have that chance encounter I've always wanted with the supernatural tonight. No insane serial murderers wielding bloody chainsaws for me, thank you. Make a believer out of me, if just for an evening. Tighten your jackets, ladies and gents; I'm out to find a ghost tonight.
The Tip Jar