She’ll only be a few hours away.
But, you’ll be a senior at MHS and she’ll be a freshman out there. Away in academia.
She’ll call you a few times, then text, then send an email here or there, but you won’t be able to get in touch with her on a Saturday night. No fucking way.
When you do talk to her on the phone, once a week now, she’ll act distant but you don’t know what acting distant feels like yet, so you’ll think maybe she’s busy with her collegiate studies and pursuits or she’s having her period again. You’ll tell her about all the things you’ve been up to, how great your year’s going but how badly you miss her. She’ll feign interest, and you know what that fells like because every girl you’ve ever known has blown you off in that way once in a while. There must be something wild going on where she is, you’ll think, something better and more exciting, grandiose and radical. There might be.
Or maybe not.
Really, she’ll still only be a few hours away and come on now, how much can change over a few hours? It’s the same state, almost the same county, and you even know some of the people there. You visited when your older brother went there, so you ask her about the stuff you saw then, the places you went, and if they’re still around. She says she’s not sure and things like, I don’t know, that doesn’t sound familiar.
She’ll come home for Thanksgiving break and you’ll be so excited that you’ll forget to pick up your younger sister at soccer practice. Your mom will call and yell at your voicemail, wondering once again what the fuck is wrong with you. You won’t get the message though, because you’ll be busy trying to steal a six pack of tall cans from the CVS so you and your girl can go drink in the park like you did all this past summer. You’ll get chased out of the store and the cops will show up, but you’ll already be driving down Main St. over to her parents’ house.
She won’t be waiting outside.
In fact, she probably won’t be waiting at all.
You’ll call her and she’ll say something like, Oh shit, I thought you said you’d call me before you came over.
You’ll park down the street, crack a beer, sit on the hood of your car and wait for her.
She’ll show up an hour later and you’ll still be nursing the first one, then she’ll complain about the warm beer you hand her. You’ll say they were colder an hour or two ago and she’ll wince and act like she has a headache. She will act like she has a headache for the rest of the time you two are together. She doesn’t. I promise you, it’s just a ploy.
When you get into the car she’ll ask what you’re listening to and won’t wait for your answer. She’ll just tell you how much she’s gotten into Nick Drake and his Pink Moon LP over the past few months, but she’ll only have the MP3s on her iPod and will roll her eyes when she can’t play them in your car because all you have is a CD player. She’ll also tell you she’s been checking out a lot of low-fi indie-pop these days and by that she most likely means she heard Neutral Milk Hotel. Some sophomore probably played them for her in his dorm while he put the moves on her and his roommate pretended to be asleep in the other bed. He definitely had sex with her, told her about Pink Moon as well, maybe picked up his acoustic guitar and played a few chords from the record to show he was an emotional guy after he had slowly fucked her brains out.
Then he screwed her again, not at all gently. She didn’t mind. She liked it. And her new favorite singer is Nick Drake.
You don’t know any of this, so you put on your Dead Boys CD and start rubbing her thigh. She looks at you like you’ve never been in the same room alone together, but softens up a bit when you don’t know what to do but lean in and kiss her. Once you slide your hand up her shirt and try to bite on her ear lobe, she’ll tell you to stop, and then she’ll turn off “All This and More” during your favorite part. You’ll be so damn confused you won’t know what to do but try to adjust your torn jeans so she can’t see how excited that kiss got you.
Listen, she’ll say, I’ve been seeing other guys so I don’t think it’s right if we do anything more than makeout.
You won’t know how to respond now. You had your suspicions but you decided not to worry much: she’s busy, it’s college, she’s older now, whatever excuses you could give yourself to not feel like a total chump.
You’ll try to make a last ditch effort and ask if you and her can go inside up to her bedroom. No, she’ll say, I’m meeting so and so, you remember her, right? And we’re going to this bar downtown.
Okay, you’ll reply, but how are we getting in?
She’ll look at you now like you’re a lost puppy and say that she has a fake, don’t you?
Of course your answer is no.
This isn’t working she’ll say, and then she’ll apologize as your face burns and your cheeks get wet.
Fine, you yell at her. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
But she’s already in her house, and you’re only mumbling to yourself, directing the curses at you and you alone.
This is the thing though.
You’ll call your friends who are hanging around the grocery store parking lot only a mile away. You’ll get over there, and they’ll already somehow know you and her are done, maybe just by looking at you. So they’ll hug you and put Young Loud and Snotty on in one of their parents’ cars and start telling you how that chick was always a total bitch and a fucking drag and a waste of time anyhow. Before you know it you’ll be splitting a case of Milwaukee’s Best in a field a few minutes out of town and the sky will be full of stars. At State you can’t see them because of all the lights, you remember this from when you visited, but out here, out here the world is a living breathing thing—but you’d never think of it that way. You would feel it though.
And the redness of your face, whether from anger or embarrassment or plain sadness, will subside. And you’ll sing along with “I Need Lunch” and smoke cigarettes, drinking those beers with your arms wrapped around your friends, all of your stupid young drunken hands burning holes in each other’s jean jackets.
And you’ll momentarily think about putting that college application off for another few days, definitely the one to State. Or maybe you’ll put them all off. For a week or two, a month, a year. It’s all abstract anyhow, a lifetime away, and in a year you’ll be nothing like her you tell yourself. In a year, how much could really change?