It was one of those gray but somehow bright-skied New England Wednesday mornings that made you sad for anyone who wasn’t there. Fall freshness demanded my attention, like a hungry pet, from every open lattice-window in our stuffy common room.
As I watched, for a marvelous moment, the world was a cartoon whirly-gig. Trees, writhed, animal-like, to be free of their multicolor leaves, shedding them - like bad blind-dates. The four-color debris was immediately drafted away on gust-streams, those invisible elves, and politely scattered in corners.
I’m waiting for test results today and time seems to be passing with vegetable slowness. In uncertain hours like these, some students armor themselves with alcohol while others indulge in religious solace. Not Leong and I. Leong’s a communist - it seems that communists grumpily tough things out.
I was raised a Catholic, so I rightly deserve whatever bad thing’s going to happen. In Catholicism, failure and guilt are accepted everywhere, like the best credit cards. Any success is automatically categorized as unexpected, undeserved, if not fraudulent, and above all, temporary. In fact, life itself is little more than an inconvenient test on the way to wherever.
“We’re living in the age of crisis.” I announced, agitatedly, to the otherwise quiet common room (where the usual crowd was attempting to study).
“Figured that out all by yourself”? Sunny asked, “You ought to go to Yale,” she added.
“Hear me out,” I say, as if anyone cares enough to stop me. “Our parents had their war on terror” I say, with air-quotes, “but we got a pandemic, a crazy President complete with insurrection, a faltering supply chain, a cost-of-living crisis, renewed nuclear war threats and the climate meltdown. It’s hard to study with all that going on.” I self-declared.
“It’s hard to study because I’m out of watermelon.” Sophie said, digging through the fridge.
“You aren’t anyone these days unless you’re battling a crisis.” Sophie noted.
“Your parents are ALIVE,” Leong said dryly, “I MET them and they’re going through all that too.”
“And are we (mankind) going to take any real, adult steps to address these issues?" I asked, looking around to see if my outrage was mirrored, “apparently not.” I sermonized rhetorically.
“YOU” Lisa said, shaking her head, “are a hopeless optimist - you left out a few crises.”
“WhatEVER,” I declared, “It’s still hard to study,” I reiterated, while distractedly chewing on a #2 pencil that Lisa had loaned me.
Later, we’re outside, taking in the semi-sun and reclining on our fold-up “better beach” lounge chairs. We’re off-and-on playing “That’s why I am like I am.”
“When I was in 10th grade, I had 22 detentions.” Sunny revealed.
“22! What for?” Anna asked, looking over at Sunny while shading her eyes from the sun that briefly pierced the clouds and decided to stab her fiercely in the face.
“Talking in class.” Sunny admitted. “Wow, THAT’S a shocker.” Lisa laughed.
“Shut up!” Sunny laughed, adding a ******* for emphasis. “I got those detentions on purpose. I had the love-jones for my English teacher, and she supervised lunch detentions.
I would bring in these lesbian paperbacks, like “Keeping YOU a secret,” to hold up and pretend read - while eying her, seductively."
Anna gasped, “Did she ever respond?”
“No,” Sunny said with a sigh, “My love was unrequited.”
“That was a lot of trouble to go through.” Lisa commented.
“Being gay isn’t that deep,” Sunny observed, adding the tag, “That’s why I am like I am.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Writhe: “to twist” usually in pleasure or pain.