and so we made a habit of it. at first it was punctual like a freshman and his caf card, but the race to sophomorehood demanded we lax our standards and meet up "accidentally" in that same library lounge room whenever. whenever we each had time, whenever we were not strung out on anxiety and tv revivals. soon it became apparent to both of us that we were not rendezvousing by chance but out of necessity. well it became apparent early for the girl of course. boys are too busy always trying to trick and evade. in fact as the summer session went on it really was never about school or getting ahead at all. on the contrary it was quite the opposite. it was about staying still, living in the moment, and all the clichés hence, trying to have an experience apart from the rigid learning structure, actually trying to be able to breathe a freedom which lived in the street above campus. i walked that street many times, smelt its gutter, got my foot stuck on its grate, but i was never really a part of the city, i was hamstrung and invisible-lined by the student card in my wallet. i wasn't yet a worker, still a grinder. yes sure i was in college, but i was a mouse going from room to room, lifting my nose to see if this was the mythical cheese. but it was always only the daily special, melted cheese on fries. a mouse turning corners before seeing them, opening and closing doors, constantly opening and closing all the doors in all the buildings. those beautiful old buildings crafted in Romanov grey and partitioned in whiteboard. doors laborious like from a coffee-stained New York City public city school or the old New York Times building. the library was my sanctuary, but not a student's sanctuary. it was because here i could close my eyes and pretend i didn't have to read a book by dawn, i could peruse a magazine breezily instead. the library was a bigger version of my room back home.
Auverin: do i tell you about my day? do you want to know everything? every single detail and how each detail made me feel?
me: please, pull up a couch. i need an excuse. i'll always need an excuse.
Auverin is munching a sandwich in her brillo snowcoat pocket, she's even starting to bite like me. bite her food that is.
me: i've decided i don't like restaurants anymore. they're too stuffy and full of life. there's always that cramped laugh from faraways that you never know what was so funny, you almost wished you knew the joke. almost. the tvs are always tuned to golf, never to Jeopardy except that slim timeframe you're not there...
Auverin: let's go back to when bars were bars, '80s bars with neon signs inside and dirty glasses. where you had to smoke to get in. the bathroom is the kitchen sink. the sliding counter is a little too long and the chairs are a little too high and the pool tables have no felt. back when people still bumped into their soulmates at bars. i don't like the changes to Jeopardy. the contestants don't get out from behind their booths at the end of the game anymore. i miss seeing their legs.
me: ...and the burgers are always too heavy at night. you can never eat them all. leaves me languished and lethargic. too many damn caramelized onions, enough is enough. and the wait. the endless fucking wait for EVERYTHING. the appetizers, the drinks, the preplates, the postplates, the second water, the second waiter, the check to see if everything is fine, of course the food is tasty it's a restaurant, the fourth course and the final course of dry-ice ice cream. and the cheque. and the credit card. and the 15%. and the parking validation. and the watering of the mini Christmas trees which are just stumps of brown branches by this point.
Auverin: sounds like you have a people problem more than a food problem. strangers sitting too close to you on the edge. if anything there's food if there's not much conversation. i like the café now, which is weird for a junior. i feel out of place and it's always crowded but the fare is light. me and a sandwich, i'm set for the day, it's enough.
me: that does smell good.
Auverin: pumpernickel, hamhock that tastes like ham, almond meal, deli dressing, okra pickles.
me: no protein?
Auverin: is that a sex joke?
me: everything is. this college-math final is doing a hurt-job on me.
Auverin: why the hell are you taking math? nevermind, no need to explain, i have parents, too. i think i forgot to take notes today. oh well. it must be the shoes.
me: i need something to do.
Auverin: you need a distraction.
me: i'm too boring to blog. i should start a closet band. i suppose talking to you will suffice.
Auverin: no worries. what's the difference between a D+ and a D-, really.
me: you know what would be extraordinary? if Christopher Plummer gets the Oscar for that ten-day performance instead of Kevin Spacey.
Auverin: i was just thinking the same thing.
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