Sarah Lawrence College
1 Mead Way
Sophomore year of Sarah Lawrence College. I lived in Andrews Court. Andrews 6, maybe, I don’t remember the number. Andrews 4 was where the cool guys lived freshmen year, where I watched Lord of the Overfiend while imbibing some serious kind.
My room was on the first floor. Up two steps, just past the bathroom, on the left. Across from a girl who’d always eat my ice cream, so I got my own mini-fridge, which doubled as a good place to store the liquid acid my old friend N brought up from NJ. Layla was caddy corner to me, Molly upstairs, with Johanna, and Yael.
Andrews Court was the first and last time I ever lived alone, if you can call sharing a house with five other women alone. It felt like it. I felt like I was being torn apart by wolves. The sunlight came in my window and I pulled the shades down tight. I had a white king size down comforter on a single size bed. I had milk crates full of books, and I had a body full of anger. I tried to fix it with existentialism. I tried to fix it with daily doses of beef lomein and fried wontons, which Layla and I ordered religiously. We stayed up late and smoked. We played spades. Layla bleached her hair, tucked it behind her ears with an arm that was permanently bent at the elbow due to a juvenile surgery mishap. I always wanted to mimic the move, but didn’t want to be insulting, to look like I was making fun, when all I wanted to do was be like her. I talked quite a bit. Layla listened.
I talked so much that when my dad came to help me move out at the end of the semester, Layla was as angry with him as I was. She wanted to curse at him and tell him all the things he’d done wrong, but I asked her not to. I didn’t know he knew, but he knew. What I did know is that he was a grown human being, capable of fumbling, capable of sincere regret, and deserving of forgiveness, even if I couldn’t muster it at the time.
One night Layla and I stayed up late and chucked beer bottles out of the front door into the parking lot below. We chucked maybe twenty, hearing the smash, hearing people scream. We’d yell “incoming!” and launch away. We stopped once security asked us to, but it felt bogus, it felt like we were doing them a favor by ceasing our glass attack on the parking lot.
I was taking psychology that semester, a lecture. I sat way in the middle. Unnoticed. Unnoticeable. I took notes on one side of my notebook and wrote my own words on the other. One morning my dad showed up out of the blue, early, early early. I was still up from the night before, still tripping. He said God had told him to come check in on me. So I suggested we have breakfast.
It had been a weird summer, the summer before sophomore year. (And I’m writing this thinking I don’t want to share, thinking maybe my mom reads my blog, thinking I don’t want to be judged. I’m consoling myself with the idea that maybe I won’t post it, or maybe she wouldn’t judge.)
It had been a weird summer. We’d been taking alot of meth, and ecstasy, and lsd, smoking grass. Cocaine when it was available, and whatever this guy Shady John the pharmaceutical student was cooking up on the sly in his lab. We were sitting on a rooftop, Dave and I, the rooftop of a frat where he was renting a room during the summer months. I’d gone out to San Francisco to see Layla and our friend A. A had come back to Philly to hang out with me. A and I had hooked up freshmen year, but nothing happened that summer. I don’t know if she didn’t want it to, or I didn’t want it to, or if it was just awkward.
(Is there a way to make sure your mom doesn’t read your blog? Isn’t it funny how we feel like we owe something to our parents, like there’s an image they have of us that we want to maintain. It’s like we want our parents to know the ideal us, the one who doesn’t make mistakes or have regrets, the one who doesn’t want to escape their own consciousness, the one who doesn’t squander opportunities, the one who doesn’t lie, or cheat, or sit on the edge of a rooftop with feet dangling over the edge of West Philly tripping on acid and feeling like the high is worth the risk. I never want my mom to know I thought the high was worth the risk. But I feel like I do want C to know, if he gets to that point, that he can always come to me and I’ll be judgement-free. I hope I can figure out a way to let him know that, although perhaps it’s that idealized image that we believe our parents have of us that keeps us in check, even just a little bit.)
It had been a weird summer. I was seeing Dave that summer. I was also seeing another man, S, an old friend from high school. He was a terrific guy, and we always had a great time together. We laughed. We howled. We had fun. I still have the mix-tapes with carefully cut out photos of us on the cover, with the songs that were our songs. We broke up that fall, but we knew it was over by the end of summer. I was different, I’d changed, I was real interested in the party, in incendiary books, in myself. I was an introvert who was exploding.
Dave and I didn’t have a great time when we were together. Typically we had an intense time. Typically we came together, shared a few moments of madness, and came apart again. Then he wouldn’t call, and when he did call I wouldn’t pick up. Then I’d suggest we get together, and he’d say he’d be out of town. One time Dave was supposed to be away, so I brought S to a crazy druggie party with all the new people. It was the kind of party where someone spills the powdered e on the floor and everyone gets down on hands and knees with their tongues out. Dave showed up anyway; he doesn’t like to miss a party. By the end of the night we were a mess, all three of us. We crashed out in Dave’s room. If I’m to believe the hype, kids today would have used the time to their advantage. But we all came up in the 1990’s, so we kept our hands to ourselves.
It was in psychology lecture that I realized I was in love with Dave. I was mindlessly doodling when I realized I’d written ‘Dave’ in my notes. I looked at it quizzically for a second. I didn’t understand why I’d written it. So I wrote it again, and then I felt it: a jumping in my heart, a quickening of breath. Oh fuck, I thought. I knew what it meant. I was in love. And I wasn’t happy about it. Dave and I fought this relationship every step of the way. Neither of us wanted it, and we did what we could to disappoint the other. From the time Dave left school and moved back to Philly with nary a word, to the time I suggested he meet me and my crew at the club, then showed up with K, a rather lovely girl, on my arm. Dave and I didn’t want to be in love, but we were.
It had been a weird summer and now I was back at school. I’d worked as an ice cream server at a twee little place in twee little Chestnut Hill, Philly. I worked an a twee little anarchist bookstore in twee little Center City, Philly, and I’d downed all the drugs I could get my twee little prep school hands on. I hid white blotter in my boots and flew it cross-country.
I was back at school but I wasn’t ready for it. I hadn’t been ready for it freshmen year and I certainly wasn’t ready for it now. My profs knew it, my friends, I knew it. I took a formal leave of absence. I’d be back in a year, I told everyone I would. I signed a price of paper, and I meant it for real.