"i tried the muffalata. wasn't half bad." it was Auverin's turn to start. the days all melted together that summer, in the long beanpole of the few weeks before the fall semester would begin up again proper. not gonna lie, i was sweating it. i had been through change of seasons, even those here in my strange land, but there was something heralding and collapsing about the fall semester that not even the spring semester could branch: it was the big one. the one where all the high-school seniors tasted their first tongue and breathed fire into their learning. the one where i became old hat and could no longer buy a hat at the student store. where no matter how confident you were it was just one year, anybody can do one year, try four years, or rather eight wobbly blocks. for each section spelled disaster, a brand new crew of disgruntled professor-rejects teaching, all new cast of characters as your soulmates with the same books. at least in high school you had four years to make your bully your best friend. here, there was too much climbing the ladder to look down at the human detritus you were stepping over. upscale progression still has a marble roof. the tower comes to a point. no time to make real lifechanging mates promised in the brochure, too busy keeping your family as friends. i dunno, the fall semester is different. uneasy. it forces a freshness on you right as you have settled into the warm rain of your sidestall. the worst part is, you never have a chance to say goodbye. everyone rushes to burn through that final with just enough wit for the C or the P and they forget what college really is for. they have a train to catch. to where? your parents? come on! i'm your family now, remember? it makes me skittish.
but i dare not show that to Auverin, who supers in confidence. she wouldn't understand. or she would understand too achingly well that our conversations would never end and eventually bend toward justice. is there such a thing as giving too many fucks? y'know there was something about that girl. maybe it was because she was the last girl. yeah, that must be it.
i lost my mind when i was with her. in a good way. distraction would turn to delicacy. time would interchange with light. i would find myself on the new smelly sofa they installed next to her butt and not give it a second thought, it felt natural and right. mostly comfortable, but there was that slanted upcurled beltbuckle of hers which always screwed up the perfect symmetry we could have had. i would never know what time it was or how i got there. what time it was outside most importantly. it was always after a test or half-baked job or whatever, it was Auverin time at the Stacks. i nicknamed her Stacks in my mind, she never knew about it, i never told her, too embarrassed, but it was funny to me cos she was skinny as a book of poems but still hot. and of course the rules about eating were thrown out long ago, we might as well have been library mavens by this point.
she with her caffeine gum and me with my latest dish of exotic stew i gleaned off a menu from visiting an Indian restaurant alone for the first time without my folks, proudly. forget how i paid for it, probably with their cash. gejidabo. and i always pulled it out of my backpack the bottom of which was garnered with a bed of pink sea flowers. for some reason. i picked them. plucked them. from the subby streets or college garden, to mark my along the way.
Auverin: are you sure you were actually physically at a restaurant or you were watching anime catpeople eat on a screen? as time goes on it gets harder to tell the difference. careful. you're becoming more hipster everyday. i'm forgetting the cool Californian i weirdly met a year ago.
me: has it been a year? weird. that was all a show of course. and not because i'm a drama minor. fake it till you bake it. i'm pretty sure i don't know how to surf. what is it with these blocks? i hate semesters, they're too short. they cram everything into a wet ball and jam it down our throats like desperate sophomore sex. all the fuzz is gone, no nuance. years, man, years, give us a year to breathe it in.
Auverin: i'm sure this all boils down to money.
me: yeah i know what you mean. video games today have TOO good graphics. their faces are so realistic and lifelike and made with microscopic nanopixels i pee my pants when they speak. so you never explained why you're taking off-color summer classes.
she responded but i don't know anymore. i'm sure it was something about her trying to get a leg up on her competition and race to her credits count faster. to graduate with honors to please her crusty father upturned and gobsmacked who had a graduate degree in graduation from the easygoing '60s and was quite terrified of his daughter's budding attractiveness and silky legs that he didn't know what to do with himself when she came to visit so she always stayed in school.
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