September 9, 2013

A chapter book.

I hadn't seen him in months. Seven months.
The last time we interacted, he was probably wearing one of those plaid shirts I always used to talk about. He was probably lost, the way he's always been (you know, one of those tortured souls) and I was probably thinking we shouldn't have kissed. No, nevermind. He was probably the one thinking that. I don't usually have those thoughts.

I had thirty minutes to be to class and I decided that I should get my second Diet Coke of the day because there were lots of math equations this morning and there was a lot of calculating and then, there was this guy that I know who I see everywhere and today he sat beside me which was really not my particular cup of tea, so long story short, in my hand was a second Diet Coke, get over it.

I was on my way to Michael Sowder's class. Remember Michael Sowder? I gushed about him once here and I'll most likely gush about him again because he's probably my favorite human that has ever existed. Well, so anyway. I was on my way to Michael Sowder's class, but first I had to print off my paper. I do all my printing in The Suite Lab because for English majors, it's free. I'm in there all the time. And so, I walked in the door the way I've always done. 

And usually, sitting at the help desk are a large amount of middle-easterners who don't speak a large amount of English, but that's because to sit at the help desk, you don't need to really speak anything. Today, there weren't very many people at the help desk. Today, there was one middle-easterner, and in the opposite corner, some other guy. I couldn't see him because the computer screen on his desk blocked my view.

In The Suite Lab, they're touchy about food. Drinks, especially. Every time I go in there with Diet Coke in my hand, I'm always afraid someone is going to tell me to throw it away before I use the printer. Something about soda pop having a bad reputation with computer monitors. I've only been reprimanded once, but I fear it every day.

I check the right desk to see if the middle-eastern man is eying my drink.
No. His back is towards me and Solitaire occupies his computer screen.
I check the desk straight ahead of me in the lefthand corner of the room.
I can only see the new guy's hair. The screen in front of him blocks his facial features. I'm safe.
I locate a computer, walk two steps toward it, reach for the mouse, and catch the attention of the printing-attendant nearest me. From across the room, I panic as I recognize the face that peers to the side of the computer monitor on his desk. Wide-rimmed glasses and pants that actually fit. A person I had nearly forgotten existed.

My hair in a loose braid over my shoulder because it finally does that now, the straps of my book-bag barely synched, and covering my lower back. I stand there sort of like Hi and with his left hand still on the keyboard before him and his eyes on me, he raises his hand, gives me a quick wave and smiles. I walk over to his desk and tighten the straps of my back pack. Because you do things like that when you're unsure of how to act in a particular situation. You do things like that when you're standing there, feeling naked, in front of the person who, seven months ago, told you he didn't want you. And when all he does is offer you a wave of his hand, all you can do is synch up your back pack straps and try to remember that speaking your mind is nothing to be ashamed of, even when affection isn't mirrored.

And, you know, we talked. About graduation. His job. The semester. Printing.

All of a sudden, the small talk wasn't enough for me and I remembered how busy I was.

Remembered that, unlike him, I had places to be. I had to get to Dr. Sowder's class so we could talk more about Tennyson and T.S. Elliot. I had to get home because I had an article to write. Remembered about that person who has come at me sort of guns blazing, the way the man at the desk never did. He was this ghost-of-a-figure now, staring at me with questions about my life and all of a sudden, I didn't feel the need to answer them. I had to go because I was important to other people the way I never was to him.
     "I've got to get going," I said after just seven seconds of silence.
     "Okay," he smiled up at me and I didn't feel anything when he did it, "well, it was so nice..."
     "Nice running into you here," I interrupted, "take care, huh?"
     "Will do," he waved again. I turned toward the door and took a step in its direction before retracting that step and flipping around the other way.
     "Oh, and hey," I remembered another thing, "isn't it your birthday next week?"
     "It is," he said.
     "Happy birthday," I nodded. The intimacy left between us could be summed up in a statement of fact: I can't believe I remembered that.

As I took steps out into the hall, I couldn't stop smiling to myself. It was as if in that minute and a half experience, I gained an outsider's perspective. I wasn't a part of it anymore. The door finally closed. And what happens when a door closes?

I tiptoed up the stairs and the big, glass door to Michael Sowder's class blew open as I reached for the handle. And, okay, it was mostly just the wind, but I'm paying attention to my life and claiming it to be a stunning metaphor of a life that gives back what it takes. And I believe that, I do.

(If you're confused, you can go back through my archives and read all about this tragedy. This piece is sort of an epilogue to a small chapter book of my life. One that I will never forget have almost completely forgotten about, had it not been for today and the records of this blog.)

Chapter one.
Chapter two.
Chapter three.
Chapter four.
Chapter five.
Chapter six.
Chapter seven.
Chapter eight.


  1. i just read all of that, and you seriously are the most stunning writer. write always pretty please!! i would read this all for days!

  2. "I had to go because I was important to other people the way I never was to him."

    So, when are you writing a book? I mean, I'm sure you're planning on it. But I just want to put it out there that if you don't I'll lose faith in a lot of things I currently believe in and hold very dear.

    And here's to second Diet Cokes in one day. Because sometimes it's just necessary!

  3. i'm with shelby, you are a STUNNING writer. and i don't use the word stunning very often, i save it for special occasions. you & your writing are a special occasion.

  4. I love this. But I also want to hear about the boy from THESE DAYS, if you know what I mean. Also, I nominated you for a little bloggy award on my blog. So, you can participate in that if you want, but no pressure. You can just keep on writing your little heart away about other stuff, because I like it.

  5. Welp. Read the whole story. I bow to you and your writing ability. I adore you.

    Also, zero shame in second diet coke days. Today was third chai latte day. No shame. Yolo and all that.

    You have such a gift. Never ever stop writing or forgetting the people who do care for you in your life. This boy was a fool to let you go. Anyone would be.

    Tightrope to the Sun

  6. Wow. Just, wow. Where did you come from? This was some incredible writing.


i like words. and you. write me a few?