Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Terrible Love - The National

She slid the planner back to me across the table. Inside she had just marked down her birthday. The entry for October 26th now read, “This Day in History: Lane Medley born in Kansas City, Mo.” Around it she had doodled fireworks and balloons. That date was less than two months away. Then she started studying again. We were in the library.

I tried to study too, but I kept looking at her. Not staring though.

At ten, she closed her books and we left to meet some friends at this 24 hour breakfast place called “Clark’s.” Then we went to my friend’s house and listened to records. She fell asleep and I almost did, so I took her back. On the drive to her apartment she got awake again or at least awake enough to talk. We parked. She laughed and said she might have a thing for me.


I woke up and walked down to Grady’s room. I knocked and we went to go workout. Grady used to be on the baseball team before he decided there was no point in playing division II athletics. He still had a pass to the athlete’s weight room though and we usually lifted there. That morning the girls soccer team had already taken it over so we went to the student gym.

“You know some girls exercise like 2, 3 hours a day?” Grady said as we went past a row of girls and one guy on the ellipticals.

“Who has time for that?” I replied.

“Who has motivation for that?”

“I for real see Jen Crane jogging like ten times a day. It feels like every time I’m driving around campus, no matter what time, I always see her running.”

“But, do you ever see it making any difference?” he asked. Jen was heavier and had a bigger body type. She looked like she was killing herself whenever I saw her jogging around, but she still looked the same.

Today we were doing shoulders and back. We were going a little harder today. I’m not sure why.

“I hung out with Lane last night,” I said between sets.

“Lane Medley?”


“Is that happening?”

“What do you mean ‘happening’?” I knew what he meant, but asked anyway. It was stupid.


My friend Luke wanted to get coffee so I skipped my ten o’clock and met him at “Grata,” this café coffeehouse thing downtown. He was a finance major, but what he really did was art stuff; painting and playing in a band and all that.

“Why don’t you guys play shows anymore? Why doesn’t anyone really play shows anymore?” I asked once we sat down.

“The scene’s not happening.”

“The scene’s happening, just not well.”

“It’s mostly underclassmen bands and to me it feels off.”

“That’s cause you guys either think you’re too cool or you’ve stopped caring.”

“Why don’t you start a band then?”

“Why don’t you just make the scene happening again? Whatever that means.”

“Graham told me Lane and you came over last night.”

“Yeah, we put on some freak-folk records, and then had this really great, deep talk about spirituality and stuff.”

“For real?”

“No, but we did listen to music for awhile and it made us all so chill we were fighting off sleep. Where were you?”

“With a study group believe it or not.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“What are you doing tonight?”

“Nothing I don’t think.”

“Want to check out that new Redline place with me and some people?”

“Yeah, I’m down.”

“You should bring Lane too.”

“Yeah, maybe.”


That afternoon after classes, I went back to that same café. I sat by myself on the street, smelling the smoke and listening to cars brake and accelerate. I brought some books with me, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to read them. My waitress had read one of the books I had with me so we talked about that for a bit. The café was pretty slow so she stayed for awhile.

Talking to bored employees is a favorite past time of mine. Bored employees have nothing to hide and nothing better to do. I for real think you’ll find no more honest and engaged conversation than with them; even more so than with little kids. At least it’s more intelligent than with kids. These employees will tell you all the secrets of a place and all their opinions on stuff. It’s nice to listen to. I want to find some friends who are like bored employees all the time.

I saw Lane and her friend Kayla walking on the other side of the street. I didn’t feel like yelling so I just texted Lane to look to her left. It took a little while for her and Kayla to spot me. They laughed like seeing me there across the street was the funniest thing ever. They came over.

“Don’t you just look like the cliché college student?” Kayla started.

“You know it’d be hotter if you were writing books instead of just reading them,” said Lane.

“Well you should know I’m not doing either. These books are just props. I got to keep up the look.”

They sat down and the waitress came out and took their order.

“What have you guys been up to?”

“Oh, just shoe shopping,” Lane replied.

“Shoe shopping, of course, I should’ve guessed,” I said. “So only shoes? What if you see other clothing items you want?”

“Just shoes. If we started buying other stuff it would quickly turn from shoe shopping to outfit shopping which would turn into a lecture from my father about my card statements,” Kayla answered.

I’ve never heard of most of these girls having a job. It’s funny cause I hear them complain about money a lot, but I’m pretty sure it’s their parents who are giving it to them. And also, I know their parents will keep funding them no matter what; even if they complain to their kids to be more responsible with their money, they still won’t stop. Neither will. It just seems kinda weird to me.

“So it’s kind of like if you give a mouse a cookie, if you buy a girl a headband, she’ll want a…” I trailed off the implication.

We sat out in the café for more than an hour. We played Name their Fetish where we come up with weird fetishes for the people who walk by. It was fun and I made plans for them to come to the restaurant with us that night.


Kayla and Lane came and picked me up in Kayla’s car a few hours after we left the cafe. We headed over to meet everyone at the restaurant. We drove by and saw Luke standing out front with some people and texting on his cell phone. From the car we said hi to him and then spent a few trying to find a parking spot. Redline was on 7th and Congress and we ended up in a garage three blocks over.

Luke was with our friend Graham and two people I didn’t know named Cassidy and Paige. I recognized Cassidy from a gen ed econ class I had last year. We were seated like a minute after the three of us got there.

“I think I dig any restaurant that has both burgers and sushi on the same menu. So it’s looking good for this place,” Luke said.

“The menus are a little on the large side,” I remarked as I flipped mine up to hide behind.

“I know, I feel like I’m at work in a cubicle,” Cassidy joked and hid behind his too.

This place was trying to be trendy and as long as they make an attempt it’s at least interesting to watch. None of the waiters or waitresses in these restaurants look that interesting though. They’re almost always wearing black. They wore all black here too. That coupled with the low lighting of the place created an affect where it seemed like the waiters appeared out of nowhere. That took some getting used to. I liked the place good enough though.

Sink/Let it Sway – Someone Still Love You Boris Yeltsin

The rest of dinner was fine. Afterwards we decided to head over to this place “Crustasian’s,” where a new band that was supposed to be good was playing. There’re always supposed to be good so I never really know what that statement means. It was across town so we drove. It took a bit to find a parking spot again.

We went right inside when we got there. There wasn’t much happening inside. The show didn’t start for an hour. Cassidy, Paige, and Graham went outside. They said they needed to smoke. They probably weren’t going to smoke cigarettes or anything typical like that. People like that are usually smoking just the weirdest things: foreign stuff, things that are weeks away from being declared illegal, etc.; just to say they were doing it.

Kayla and Luke went up to the bar. Lane and I acted like we were going to the bathroom, but we just went over by a wall to talk. There were red lights all over the inside and so everything had a red tint. They made me feel like I was trapped in a tanning bed. I’m not sure tanning beds use red lights, but I guess they do in my mind. Actually, I felt more like there was a giant video camera right outside the place taping us all and its red recording light was bleeding in through the window and lighting most of the inside because the camera was that huge. There were Chinese papers lanterns hanging down all over the place with some of the red lights in them too. They swayed gently in response to the ceiling fans that were on full rotation.

“Having fun?” I asked.

“Yeah, you?”

“As far as I know, yeah.”

“You want to go outside for a sec?”


We left through a back entrance and came back in fifteen minutes later. It had gotten considerably busier since we left. I spotted our group. We walked over.

“…called Libertarian Paternalism,” Cassidy was speaking. His face seemed flush, but maybe it was just the lights. “Like people who have gambling problems, in Missouri they sign like a waiver or something and even if they go into a casino, whatever they win, they have to give back to the state. I don’t know, I think it’s kinda cool.”

“But that’s not even treating them like adults,” Paige said.

“Exactly, but what does it matter if they don’t even treat themselves as adults? What’s worse: them submitting to their addictive impulses to gamble or them submitting to the government in order to get over a serious problem?”

“To me if you’re going to quote, unquote submit to something, might as well let it be something that makes you better,” Graham added.

“But, does it actually make you better if you’re being forced to and you’re not really doing it yourself?” Luke asked.

“It at least doesn’t make you worse,” Cassidy replied.

“Still I feel like if you’re an adult you should be treated like one; even if it means digging your own grave. It’s every adult’s right to figure out what’s good for themselves. They shouldn’t be told what’s best for them on something that’s legal like gambling,” Paige joined in again.

“Why? Most of the adults I know are just about as clueless as the kids I know as to what’s good for themselves. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean all that much,” argued Cassidy.

“I don’t know…”Kayla started

I didn’t join in. I just listened. I’m not apathetic, I just don’t really care. I don’t care that much about what I think and I don’t care that much about if I’m right or wrong. I looked at Lane and she was listening intently. She didn’t speak either.

That talk continued for awhile. It was pretty interesting for a bit. Soon enough they were talking in circles though and with lots of vague proclamations and generalities swirling around. So, I leaned over to Lane and asked,

“What do you think of this place?”

She laughed a little, then said, “I’m not sure what to make of it.” It was Asian themed, but in a haphazard, ironic way that wasn’t actually trying to make this place feel Asian. “Some of it’s pretty funny, but some of it annoys me. I don’t even know why,” she added with another laugh. The DJ booth looked like a Japanese steakhouse grill. You could even sit right up around it, just like at one of those restaurants. Lane grabbed two chopsticks that they had littered about on the bar and put her hair up with them. I’m always impressed at how skilled girls are at maneuvering their hair when it’s behind their head and they can’t even see it.

“How do I look?”

“Fab. That’s the only word for it. You really went all out in keeping with the oriental motif.” I picked up chopsticks of my own and reached over to steal a cherry that was in Kayla’s drink when she wasn’t looking. Then I brought it and dropped it in Lane’s mouth. Then I shook my head and started laughing. “We’re ridiculous,” I said.

“I know,” she said and laughed some more. The band was supposed to start relatively soon so we figured since we were just standing around and talking we might as well stand and talk around by the stage. So we stood and talked till they came on.

Something Good Can Work - Two Door Cinema Club

When they came onstage, I checked and saw that I didn’t recognize any of them. It seemed like I used to know everyone in the music scene even though I didn’t play myself. They came out and made baseball signals with the guys in the booth to get the sound right. They moved around and made a few remarks to each other, then took their places and started their set.

My thoughts flowed to Lane though. She was dancing in front of me. 

Dancing is like an exponent with girls. If they’re good, it just makes them that much more attractive. If they’re bad and it’s a negative exponent; it kind of kills it. I kept thinking about Lane though. This whole thing with Lane was different to me.

It was strange for me because I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to talk about it or not; like to others and stuff. That’s not that big of an aspect in a relationship, but I kept thinking about it. I didn’t know why I brought her up when I was lifting with Grady. I didn’t know why I felt weird when Luke mentioned her. If people ask me about someone I’m seeing, I’m pretty open about it and it’s not a big deal to me, but it’s not like me to introduce it. It’s just kinda whatever with me.

I kept thinking about it and I kept thinking about Lane. She was a good dancer and she looked like she has having fun. Actually, the dancing thing with exponents isn’t really about if they’re good or not. It’s a positive exponent if you like to watch them dance. It’s negative if you don’t like watching them, which can even happen if they’re a really good dancer. I can’t even think of a common denominator that explains why you like to watch some girls dance and not others.

Music has a way of exaggerating emotions and I think something like that began to happen with me at that show. I started getting these bursts of affection for Lane that were welling up in me. It was like this bubble that started in my stomach and rose up, getting bigger. It was weird.

When they were at their height though, Lane would suddenly be in slow-motion and everything sounded like I was underwater. Then they would go away. Then they would come back. It sounds ridiculous even to me. It’s what I was feeling though, and somewhere in all that stupid bubble stuff I thought I hit on why I was feeling weird about her. To me, it was because I was uneasy about it. It wasn’t anything wrong with her or me or timing or anything like that. It was just something about the whole thing that made me uneasy. It was like being at a desk and leaving for a few minutes and coming back and feeling like something’s different, but you don’t know what. To me, it then seemed like a very good thing that I was uneasy about it. I didn’t know exactly what I meant by that, but it made a lot of sense to me at the time.

Lane grabbed my hands and we both began dancing around together. The music was the kind that you wouldn’t really dance to recorded, but if you heard it live you wanted to dance. I think the band was called “Yellow Light Dilemma.” It was a little too high-school emo band for me, but I personally found it kind of funny.

I looked at Lane and she was staring at this couple that was dancing all over each other. It was funny how careful they were being to not spill their drinks. She saw me watching her.

“There’s no way we could top them for most obnoxious couple, but you know how we can come close?” Lane leaned in like she was going to whisper, but half-yelled. I took note that the way she used the word “couple” implied that we were too.


“Unnecessary sunglass wearing!” She screamed and put her Wayfarer’s on me. I snagged my own fake Ray Bans from my pocket and put mine on her. We were both laughing and then she twirled. We kept on dancing together. The bubble thing started again and when they were at their apex I felt for Lane the way I felt about life every Friday afternoon in elementary school right before it let out for the weekend.

Expectation - Tame Impala

After the show we ended up at somebody’s apartment. Whose it was I didn’t really care. I’ve found myself in so many random apartments and houses over the years. Sometimes I’m there for only a few minutes, one time I was there for a week. Most of the time they were nothing more than a figurative ottoman to rest your night on for a bit.

Lane had to make a call so she went outside and I found myself talking with Paige. The apartment had a real chill vibe and there were a bunch of muted-toned lights of various colors around. Some had designs, some didn’t, some moved and some didn’t.

There were also more beanbag chairs in there than I had seen since my friend Matt’s 11th birthday party. Beanbag chairs are so weird because I feel like so many people have one that they just keep in the closet till that one time a semester when they need it. I always feel like I’m the one who ends up on a beanbag in the middle of the room while everyone else is on couches; I feel like we’re usually watching a movie when that happens. Not that it matters, but I got preoccupied thinking about them for a bit.

“So what year are you?” I asked Paige.

“I’m a junior…”

There were a lot of lava lamps in there too I noticed. I then started thinking about lava lamps as Paige and I talked. We talked about the show earlier. Then we talked about podcasts. Then we talked about photography. Then we talked about a trip to China she was going on pertaining to photography. She honestly bored me at first, but then I found her more and more interesting.

“So how long will you be gone total?”

“3 months.”


“I know. It’ll be the longest I’ve ever been away from home.”

“How homesick do you usually get?”

“Not very, but I hear you start missing the states a lot when you’re away from here.”

“For real, it’s true. I studied in Spain for a year and I just couldn’t wait to see like a Wal-Mart or something. I traveled to London and about blew my mind because I went to a Chili’s and they have all that stupid Americana stuff all over the walls.”

“I swear, my mom just redid her basement and it seriously looks like one of those places with all that random crap decorating it.”

“I’ve always wanted to gaslight a place like that by going in there and every time I do, I replace something on the wall with some artifact from my room until I’ve transformed it and a section of that restaurant is totally indistinguishable from my room.” She thought that was really funny so I continued. “Those places are so weird, like I’ve seriously seen like little kids rec league team pictures in some. How weird is that? Like who thought that was a good idea? Anyways, I think I could really do it and no one would notice.”

“Let’s do it. I’ll help. It’ll be a good project for us to work on this semester.”

“I’m in.”

Paige was more fun than I expected. Sometimes people like her who are a bit artsy have no real sense of humor. They feel like they can’t laugh because there’s starving kids in Africa or they decide to not actively listen to any sentence without a five syllable word in it. And it’s not in a snobbish way, it’s just in a taking things too serious way.

“Where is everyone else?” I asked. It came into my mind that I hadn’t seen those in our group in awhile.

“Well, Luke is over there with Cassidy and Kayla.” She nodded to the doorway of a bedroom where the three of them were standing around talking to a group of people.

“Uhuh,” I said slowly as I looked at them.

We looked around some more, but didn’t see anyone.

“You want anything to drink?” I asked.

“No I’m good, you?”

“Nope, I just feel compelled to ask to make sure.”

“I see.”

“So you know Luke?”

“Yeah, why?”

“How long have you known him?”

“Umm…I don’t know, a while. At least two years.”

“Huh. It’s weird, I feel like we should’ve met each other before.”

“I know, you would think.”

Cassidy broke away from the people he was talking to and walked up to us.

“Cassidy, I love this kid. Why haven’t we been hanging out with this guy before?” said Paige.

He took a deep breath, looked at me and nodded as if in deep thought. “Well, my theory is that you, my new friend, are not actually a student, but a journalist sent in undercover to get a firsthand report on the wild, hedonistic lifestyle of parties and orgies lead by today’s university student.” He looked back and forth between Paige and I with cartoon shifty eyes, and then started directing his comments at Paige. “Sadly though, his story will be skewed by this little detour to some lame stoner’s apartment.” He leaned slightly towards me and whispered, “Don’t be fooled. Real college parties have many more beautiful people. Though, if you really wanted to have fun, you should’ve posed as a football recruit. They would’ve certainly showed you a good time,” he winked for punctuation. I couldn’t help laughing, Paige too.

He glanced around and started talking before either of us responded, “I bet this person’s a jam band fan. Anyone with this amount of lava lamps has to dig jam bands. I bet if we checked a closet we would find a stockpile of Mexican ponchos. Why are we still here? What is happening? We should go. Oh, but are you a reporter?”

“Would you even believe me if I told you the truth? But sadly no. I wish though, because that would mean I’d have a job; something that’s not looking too good for us when we graduate.”

“I know! Totally! This recession has impeccable timing for our generation. Especially our generation: the laziest, sissiest group of humans ever assembled. This is just what we need, an excuse to not have a job so we can finally have time to find ourselves.”

“For real. My parents had such high expectations of me becoming just like them with a dog, two kids, and a house in a gated community. I’m going to be such a disappointment.”

“Actually it’s 1.28 pets, 3.3 kids, and 2,433 square foot home. I memorized those stats for a class and use every opportunity I can to show them off,” Cassidy grinned as he said that.

“Well I’m impressed,” I said.

“It’s funny though, so many of us acted like that sort of average lifestyle was the last thing we wanted as adults, but I think that for most of those people it’s still what they secretly wanted or at least assumed would happen. Now all that stable suburban lifestyle stuff seems like a mirage.”

“Seriously. I don’t get how average became a fairy tale.”

“Yeah,” agreed Paige. “How can something so boring and mediocre not even be real anymore?”

“Well, there’s always the sweatshop route to gainful employment,” commented Cassidy to break us momentarily losing ourselves in our own thoughts.

Lane walked into the apartment then and came over to us.

“Sorry about that.”

“No worries,” said I. “You’re a busy, important person. I get it.”

She playfully rolled her eyes at my comment before asking,

“So do you guys’ know whose place this is?”

Paige, Cassidy and I looked at each other and shook our heads. Then I asked,


“Just curious. It’s just kind of a trippy place so I was wondering.”

“I was just thinking the exact same thing. Anyways, I think the time has come my little friends,” Cassidy said as he took off to go round up the others.

Lane, Paige, and I ended up talking about the books that were on this bookshelf we were standing by. We left like a half hour later.

Heaven’s on Fire –The Radio Dept.

We next found ourselves at a house party at a way nice place. There were a lot of people there; a lot of athletes too. I waved to Grady who was there with some of his old baseball friends. Lane and I wandered off on our own and eventually sat down on the bottom steps of a staircase. This proved to be a poor decision. The stairs were in regular use and usually by people for whom consistently level ground was enough of a challenge. It was quite distracting and we constantly felt like we were either going to be witnessing or breaking someone’s fall.

“Do you want to walk around?” I asked Lane.

“Not really, but if you do…”

“I don’t, but I don’t want to sit here either.”

We walked around a bit and settled on a window sill that was wide enough for sitting.

“Could you see yourself living in a place like this?” I asked her.

“Umm…hmm, I don’t know. See whenever I do my whole future daydream thing it’s always focused on journalism. A house or an apartment or anything never really factors in. In my mind it seems like I’m usually just running around some third-world country draped in Khaki. Really just thinking of my own place seems like such a distant part of life right now. Could you?”

“Yeah.” Then as an addendum, I said, “Honestly I could see myself living in just about anything though.”

Graham found his way over to us.

“Feeling anti-social are we?”

“Chill. That’s how we like to put it,” said Lane.

“Yeah, if you had your record player, we could put on some vinyl’s and Lane here would be a goner,” I added. Lane laughed.

“I know it’s inexcusably lame to fall asleep on you guys like that, but that thing has some kind of hypnotic effect on me. Everything you guys played last night sounded like a lullaby.”

“It’s ok, I was just about to nod off when you did.”

“Oh! Do you know what I heard about this place? I heard that the kid who lives here, his dad is Craig Drake, the news anchor guy,” Graham said. I just looked at him and started laughing. “What, do you not believe it?” he asked me.

“I mean, I have no idea. I really don’t care whether or not it’s true. It just struck me as funny.” Graham looked at Lane to see her reaction. She looked at me.

“Guess what else I heard about this place?”


“Apparently they have some big Bible study here every Thursday night. So on Thursday nights this house is packed for some Bible thing and then on the weekend it’s the party house. A Bible study!” he added again at the end.

I laughed some more at what he said. He seemed a little annoyed that this was humoring me in an unintended way. He left a little while later. Then Cassidy and Kayla came over. I asked him if he knew anything about the residents of the house. I was pretty sure that Cassidy was the one who took us here.

“Yeah, I went to high school with him.”

“What does his dad do?”

“I’m not sure exactly, just one of those random rich businessmen types. Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering,” I said laughing some more. I then asked him about the Bible study thing. He looked perplexed and I told him, laughing even more, that sometimes you just hear weird things. They left to get something to drink.

After they went, in my mind I decided that I didn’t really want to see anyone else the rest of the night. We didn’t do anything, Lane and I. We just sat there at the windowsill. I thought about how I was glad that Cassidy was there with Paige and I when Lane came back in. I didn’t want Lane to think I was flirting with Paige. Typically, I could care less about that.

We were both a little tired so we decided to leave before everyone else. Lane already had Kayla’s keys, but she wanted to see if Kayla wanted to ride back with us. I stayed at the window as she left to go talk to Kayla. I played with a tassel on the corner of a rug that I could just barely reach with my shoe. When she came back she said that Cassidy was going to give Kayla a ride back. Then she smiled and shrugged.

“Good for them I guess,” I said.


I found myself with Lane pretty much every day of the next week. She left that weekend with some of her friends to go to one of their family’s ranches to ride horses or something ridiculous like that. Luke, Cassidy, and I went to the game Friday night and then drove like two hours to someone’s lake house where we only stayed for a little more than an hour before coming back. On Saturday Luke, Graham, Grady, and I spent a peripatetic night bouncing around from place to place. We were at Luke and Graham’s house for the longest spell, watching a movie and playing video games.

The whole time, I was texting Lane though. Throughout both nights we kept it up. I even called and talked to her a few times before she came back to school Sunday. This was not my usual mode of operation. The few times I had bridged the absence from a girl by keeping in contact with her, it had honestly felt like a chore and I did it as little as I had to.

I wanted to with Lane though and I had fun with it. I even missed her. I even tried to fill those gaps where I missed her by imagining special things I could do for her on her birthday. I even got excited planning out what I was going to do.

When I thought about all the girls and relationships I’ve found myself involved with, there’s something so inevitable about it all. It’s like because I’m young and not in a monastery, it just seems to happen. It’s not just attraction or relationships with people, but the actual involvement with romance and all. Even if you’re not necessarily looking for it, even if you’re not necessarily trying for it, you still find yourself in it. It’s like how there’s 4 pens in the cup holder of my car. I don’t exactly want them there, I don’t really care that they are there, but I do not know how or why they all got there. They still are though. I just looked down one day and consciously noticed them. Things with Lane were on purpose for me. It was intentional with her.

Mtn Song for M Howell– The Shot Heard Round the World

We kept hanging out and that next Wednesday I purposefully caught her as she was walking to her last afternoon class and asked if she wanted a ride. She got in and instead of taking her to class I took off into the country to go for a drive. I didn’t think she’d care about not going class and she didn’t. We slipped our way out of town and careened up and around the hill country.

I don’t know how long we drove, but it was a good amount of time. We played lots of songs for each other, back and forth, and just talked. I took her to this one place I had camped at with my friends a couple times. It was just a little clearing in the trees. Really there wasn’t anything that special about it, but driving up in the hills to this spot had always been my ritual when I was taking myself too seriously and felt overly dramatic things like 'I need to get away from everything' or 'I need to clear my head.' I’m not a fan of hearing people gush about how therapeutic and restorative they find nature to be. Even so, I admit I usually did feel better after going up there. I thought she’d like to see it too.

We talked till the sun began to set. I liked talking to Lane. When I talked with her I didn’t care whether or not we agreed on stuff. I just wanted to hear what she had to say. Talking with her made me want to hear what I had to say too. I said some pretty sappy things to her that afternoon. I meant them too. We talked about lots of other stuff, but the sappy stuff is what I’ll always remember. I didn’t say them to be sweet or to try and be honest about my feelings, I just wanted her to know. I was pretty affectionate that afternoon too.

Sometimes I don’t like to think about it or us in too much specifics. Things like what exactly we said or did or how exactly I felt because when I do it just sounds like everyone else when they talk about their own loves and romances. I wanted us to be different. I felt like we were different. I don’t like it when it sounds like we weren’t.

I don’t want to make that afternoon out to be really cheesy or maudlin or anything because it wasn’t; at least to me. I even feel weird when I think about how I liked the sunset we saw that day on the drive back. I remember it being really red. It was cool though, but to me it’s a little much to think about a sunset in that context. It’s kinda funny, but all my memories of that day, in my mind, look like they were shot on one of those old 8mm film cameras. How’s that for cliché?

Gonna Beg You – The Bird Day

I like to think. Not like problem-solving thinking, but just to let thoughts pass through my mind as I play border patrol and decide what kind of access I’ll allow them in my beliefs. It’s nice because if you like to think like that, you’ll barely ever get bored. Anyways, this one time I was thinking, or I guess musing might be more accurate, but I just remember this particular time being more thoughtful than usual.

When I’m like this and I’m running all these things through my head, I usually don’t even know where all these thoughts are coming from. It’s like they just randomly line up and I run them through an x-ray machine and I’m trying to strain them or scrutinize them. The thoughts will keep coming and passing over me and sometimes they’ll stick. It’s like something in my mind is a magnet and some thoughts seem weirdly magnetized and so they’ll stay in my brain for longer.

So, this one night when I was thinking about stuff a thought came into my mind and stuck right on the magnet and I couldn’t shake it. I tried to, but it stayed. I tried to bring in other thoughts to cover it up, but something about it just seized me. It’s one of those thoughts that only mean something to the person that thought it. It would seem pretty inchoate and inconsequential to someone else. It wouldn’t even seem like that big of a deal. No one else could live the thought though. They could just see the words of it. They couldn’t live it. You have to show these thoughts more respect when you’re the one who has to live them; when you’re the one who knows about how all your senses are attached to it, how your past and future and right now were attached to it. It’s better not to think about thoughts in that way though.

But this particular thought that stuck was not one I necessarily believed was true and I told myself that just because you thought it, that doesn’t necessarily make it true, just because it’s sticking around, doesn’t mean it’s true. It was still.

Since then the thought had been mostly buried and obscured by the sands and winds of my daily routine, but it was the thought that I was thinking as I read the text message from the number I had deleted but memorized, that read “Can we talk?” It was the thought that said “you’ll go to Abigail whenever she calls…no matter what.” And that’s what I did.

I texted Lane that I was busy when she wanted to hang out and I went over to the performing arts center. I met Abigail on the fire escape on the back side of the building. She was still in costume; a yellow Victorian era dress with her hair done up high. I didn’t think about it at the time, but it was probably a pretty funny scene.

She had been crying and her excess stage make-up looked garish from the tears. I met Abigail the year before. I had ended up at a party at her family’s lake house at the start of our fall break from school. That party was where I was introduced to her. I ended up staying there for the week. I even met her family and spent the last part of the week with all of them too. It was pretty weird, but it didn’t seem strange at the time. At the time it made complete sense that I would spend fall break with this girl I had always heard of, but never met; that I’d spend a break with her family like I was a serious boyfriend. I didn’t even like her that much and I didn’t feel like she was even that fond of me. We got along really good, but in a weird way, and it’s not like we had any sort of extraordinary connection or anything. I liked her family pretty good though. Not that it matters. I still don’t understand how that happened or how I lasted there for a week. It was fun though.

Abigail is a big deal at our school. She grew up in the area and her family is way rich and she’s always playing one of the major roles in all of our school’s plays and musicals and all. I don’t have an inferiority complex and I have a more than healthy self-esteem I think, but I never got why she took an interest in me. Something about not being each other’s type is probably what made it seem unusual in my mind. She was blonde and attractive in a predictable way. She was many times annoying to be around, but I rarely got tired of her. I could never take her that serious.

Nothing ever really happened since that week. It was never awkward or anything and we’d hang out from time to time, but nothing regular or serious. I wouldn’t even care if I saw her with another guy. I don’t even know if it was ever really anything romantic. I mean I know it was, but it wasn’t too; if that makes sense. I know it’s an odd situation, I do know that.

So I saw her crying and I went up and sat next her on the stairs and asked what was wrong. She looked at me and started crying some more.

“Hey. Babs.” I called her that from time to time. “Hey, will you take a deep breath? Will you at least do that for me? Hey there, will you just look at me?” She looked up at me. I looked back at her and found it fascinating how I could tell that she didn’t feel the slightest bit ridiculous to be a college age woman crying her eyes out on a fire escape in a very loud costume. These were the types of things about Abigail that I found so interesting.

“Here, take some deep breaths with me.” So I started with these yoga-type in-breaths and eventually she started doing it too. She calmed a bit, so I said, “Alright, so tell me what happened Abby.”

“Oh, just everything,” she said.



“Well, did something happen at the play tonight?”

“It was a disaster. It was an absolute disaster. I don’t even want to talk about it. I was an absolute disaster. I’m not even sure I’m cut out for this kind of stuff anymore.”

“Whoa, that seems a bit extreme. Will you just tell me what happened exactly?”

“Oh nothing, just Dr. Sher went on and on after the production about how amazing and how gifted and talented and how grand and how Maddy Dalton is like the effing second coming of Audrey Hepburn or something.” She really said effing too. I was glad she wasn’t looking at me because I was smiling pretty big and trying hard not to laugh. I tried to get serious again so I could actually help her or something.

“Who’s Maddy Dalton?”

“This freshman girl that went to high school at Kapner and is like the greatest thing we’ve ever had on our stage and we’re all apparently so lucky that she decided to grace our lowly school with her great talent. She doesn’t even have half as big of a role as me. It’s not that hard to nail down a bit part like that.”

“What’s Kapner?” I asked.

“Kapner School for the Performing Arts, have you really not heard of it?”

“Oh, yeah I guess I have,” I hadn’t, but it still seemed like the thing to say.

“You know, I heard she even plays acoustic guitar too.”

Colours– Grouplove

I did laugh out loud after she said that. Something about the way that Abby equated a freshman girl who probably wasn’t even hyped as much as Abby herself was as a freshmen, who got highly praised by the director after the show, and who plays acoustic guitar; as a insult to herself and a sign that she should get out of the acting business, was very funny to me. Especially the acoustic guitar part. Mainly the acoustic guitar part.

Abigail got pretty upset with me after I laughed so I got so serious. I said a bunch of cliché things that I would’ve hated to hear someone else say. They were the only things I thought she’d really understand though. I’m not very good at helping other people with their problems. They either seem kinda stupid or way too serious for me and I have no idea how to actually help them. I end up just saying a bunch of cliché things.

I talked for a while after I laughed. I gave a little speech about how baseball players are lucky to get a hit a third of the time and how basketball players practice shooting for hours just to make half of their shots. I told her that it’s not that big of a deal if she doesn’t give some drop-dead performance every time that the director gushes about backstage to everyone every time. It was a bit of a stretch and I think I heard that same speech about once a year growing up, but it did seem to help. I had the feeling that just about anything I’d say to her, as long as it was in a caring voice, would help.

I then started complimenting her like crazy and then started asking her questions about why she liked the theater so much. Then she went off for a bit and by the end of it, she felt like she had been called to the stage and like nothing short of a shelf full of Tony awards would be good enough for her.

I apologized for laughing and then she, who was still crying a little, starting laughing herself about it. She told me thanks and we kept talking like nothing had happened, like we had run into each other on campus. I’d say we stayed talking on that fire escape for at least another hour. When we left, the theater was locked and so she had to go back to her room in costume. I knew she wouldn’t care or feel weird about it at all. I walked her to her dorm and I felt weird about her wearing a costume.

As we were walking we passed Kayla and so I said hi and then I felt guilty. I felt guilty because I was pretty positive she would tell Lane she saw me. That thought made me feel guilty. It then made me annoyed because I felt like the only reason she’d tell Lane is because Abby was in a ridiculous costume walking with me. I went from annoyed to irritated thinking about Abby’s stupid dress and hair and make-up, and knowing that she was loving the fact that wearing it was probably giving her extra attention. I felt stupid for having been feeling good about myself for cheering up Abby. I felt even more stupid and guilty because I knew I really did feel good about myself for cheering up Abby.

I felt guilty too because I weirdly always felt kinda guilty after being with Abby. Guilty might not be the most fitting word, but I just felt off. I think it was because I didn’t usually talk like myself when I was with her. I talked like someone else. I said the type of things, usually pretty boring, conventional things that I felt she’d understand. It just seemed like the thing to do when I was with her. I really did think it was the only kinds of things she’d really understand and respond to. There was just always an awareness of it after I’d leave her though.

I don’t know, I just remember feeling particularly stupid and guilty right then. Part of me kept wanting to feel more guilty and part of me wanted to remind myself that I was just helping out a friend who was feeling down. Or at least that’s what I was calling it. I really don’t know what I was doing or what I would call it.


It had become an unofficial tradition that Lane and I would talk on the phone every night before we went to sleep. I was laying in my bed with the lights out when she called that night. I had pretty much been in that exact position since I got back from seeing Abby. The light from the cell phone jumped out and lit up my ceiling. I waited a while to answer.


“Hey you.”

“What’s going on Laney?”

“Oh just finishing this powerpoint I have to have done for my 1 o’clock. You?”

“Just laying in bed.”

“Thrilling. I talked to Kayla and she said she ran into you tonight.”

“Yeah, we didn’t really get a chance to talk, but it had been a bit since I’d seen her so it was good to say hey.”

“Yeah, she said you were walking around campus with Abigail who was in like full-costume. Tell me there’s a story there.”

“Well the back story is not as exciting as you would think. She was just feeling a little down about theater stuff so I was trying to cheer her up. She ended up getting locked out of the theater and so she had to stay in her costume. Don’t worry she stayed in character though.”

“That’s funny. I didn’t realize you guys were that close or that you were friends with her at all.”

“Yeah. I mean I’ve known her for a couple years.”

“So is that where you were when you were busy earlier?”

“Yeah. It just seemed kinda weird to text that I was having a heart to heart with a Jane Austen character.”

“True true. Anyways, I should probably get back to my stuff. Thanks for chatting.”

“Sure. Are you doing alright Lane?”

“Yeah I’m fine. I’m sorry I can’t talk longer, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Sounds good Lane. Do you want to have lunch tomorrow then?”


“Cool. Alright well, night Lane.”


I go back to this conversation from time to time in my head. This one, I do think about in specifics. I think about how every time I think about it, I somehow interpret every line of her’s differently. How it sometimes seems like she is totally normal and cool and how sometimes it’s like every word of hers is out of this eerie repressed rage. I think about how I kept using Lane’s name at the end of our talk to try and stake some claim to her or something. I didn’t think about if that was what I was doing at the time, but I think about that now. That conversation really did weird me out. None of the things that happened that night were that significant, but Lane was smart. She could figure stuff out.

DNA – Darwin Deez

Lane cancelled on lunch and so all we did was text that day. It wasn’t the most engaging back and forth either. I knew she was upset. It was understandable, but it seemed a little much.

I was laying on my bed again in the dark when she called that night. While I was laying there before she called, I actually thought about Abigail a lot. It wasn’t good stuff either. I thought about it a lot and I thought about all the times I’d spent with Abby. After going over it all, I just felt like I was scratch paper. It was like I was only there for her when she was down, to draw circles on to get the pen working again, or to just talk stuff through like she was just adding up some figures she couldn’t do in her head, or like I was there to doodle on when she was bored or wanted a distraction. It was like I was only there in the first place because I was within arm’s reach of her and had some free surface for marking.

Then I couldn’t stand her and I just wanted to be doing something with Lane. Something like dancing or going out into the country or putting cherries in her mouth with chopsticks; something kinda corny like that was always real fun with her. That stuff really was corny and so I don’t like to bring it up much, but I really did love it.

Right then, instead of anything fun and corny, I went for sad and corny and just laid in my bed and waited to hear my phone go off and to see the light it put on my dark room. When she did call, I again waited awhile before answering.



“Are you mad at me?”

“No small talk?”

“Are you mad Lane?”

“Mad isn’t the right word.”

“What’s the right word?”

“Ummm…I don’t know…confused, irritated, scared…I’m not sure really.”

“You seemed alright last time we talked so I’m not sure exactly what happened.”

“I just feel like you were kinda being shady about some stuff.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…ok, I guess I should ask you about some stuff first before I start saying statements like that.”


“I just heard that you and Abby had like a thing or something.”

“Uhuh and…”

“Well, did you guys?”

“I mean I don’t know what you’d call it, so I guess ‘thing’ fits. So yeah I guess.”

“Well, why didn’t you mention that little tidbit last night when we talked about you knowing her?”

“Honestly, that little tidbit really didn’t seem worth mentioning.”

“Don’t get mad.”

“I’m not.”

“Would you mind mentioning it now?”

“I don’t care.”

“Well the fact that you’re getting weird about it makes it seem like it’s more of a thing than you’re letting on.”

“How am I getting weird about it?”

“Because you won’t just tell me about it?”

“There’s nothing to tell Lane. It was a thing. What do you say about a thing? Abigail and I had a thing apparently. It was forever ago. I’m not even sure it was significant enough to qualify as a thing, but it’s not like I still have a thing for her. What else do you want?”

“Nothing. That’s exactly what I want to hear. I’m not trying to make this into a bigger issue than it is. I just don’t know why you didn’t tell me what you just told me last night.”

“Alright, I’m sorry. Are we good?”

“Do you understand why this upsets me?”


“Well then explain it to me.”

“I’m not stupid I know why. I know.”

“Well then it won’t be that big of a deal to explain it to me.”

“I know. You know. What’s the point of explaining?”

“Why won’t you just do it?”

“Why are you making this into such a big deal?”


“Seriously Lane.”

“It just seems really weird because you just totally glossed over what you were doing in your text.”

“We talked about that. I told you about it.”

“I wouldn’t have cared if you just would have told me up front. I wouldn’t have cared that you were going to be spending time with another girl instead of me. I wouldn’t have cared that you were going to be alone with someone you’ve had some sort of romantic relationship with. I wouldn’t have cared. If you just would have let me know, I really wouldn’t have cared.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“It just seems like both when you texted me and then when we talked about her last night, you were kinda trying to cover it up or something. If it truly wasn’t a big deal, then it wouldn’t have been worth the effort to try and cover it up.”

“You’re being insane right now.”

“No. Don’t even act like I’m just being a crazy girl about it. Seriously, most girls would have been so mad at you for hanging out with another girl alone and not telling them about it. You know I trust you and I felt like you wouldn’t do something like that to me, so it wasn’t a big deal at all. The thing is, I know you’re smart enough to know exactly what you did and I know you knew exactly what you were doing. It’s actually one of the things I like best about you is how conscious and sensitive to stuff like that you are…whether you want to admit it or not.”

“Well, I’m sorry. Alright?”

“You know you’re not even being you right now. You’re arguing like a typical guy. It makes me even more annoyed because I know you know you’re doing it too.”

“Please tell me what else I know.”

“I’m trying to give you an out here. Do you see that? I’m trying to give you a chance to redeem yourself for being a bit of a creep because I know that’s not you and I want you to show me that that’s not you.”

“I didn’t do anything with her.”

“How do I know that? How do I know that you didn’t want to do anything with her?”

“Because I didn’t and I’m telling the truth.”

“I believe you, I do, but that’s not the point you know. The point is that I care a lot about you, and I’m caring more and more the more I get to know you, but I want to know that you’re not going to hold anything back on me.”

“Even if I do, I can count on you to call me out and make it into some international incident.”

“Why are you being such a jerk about this? I’m giving you a chance to make this better and you’re like posturing or something. You know you’re not being yourself.”

“This is so stupid. I didn’t do anything. I don’t care. I really don’t care anymore.”

Fa Fa Fa – Sin Fang Bous

I knew I wasn’t being myself. I don’t feel like I wasn’t being myself in the way she meant though. I just felt so stupid and embarrassed and I just wanted her to drop it. I know it was stupid. I felt so foolish about it all. The bigger deal she made about it, the harder it was for me to admit to it. The more she pushed the madder and stupider I felt. She knew how embarrassed I was, right? How idiotic I felt? The way I knew exactly what she meant and what I did wrong? I really did know what she wanted me to say like it was lines in a play and I knew that I wanted to say them, but I didn’t. It’s weird too because if it would have been Abby, I probably would’ve said those words. I don’t understand the new rules we write for dealing with the people we care about the most.

I wished I could’ve explained to her that it wasn’t love or anything, it was just curiosity. That’s why I couldn’t help going to her. I was just curious every time she wanted to talk to me; what does she want, why me, why now? I don’t know why I was so curious or why I was always so desperate to find out whenever Abby called on me. I just found it fascinating that someone could take themselves that seriously or something I guess. I just feel like girls themselves would not understand that explanation. I don’t think they’d understand that it was just curiosity and not love. They’d never understand with Abby; not when everyone thinks she’s so beautiful, not when she’s such a big deal, not when something has happened before with us.

I could’ve at least tried to explain that though. That’s the thing. I could’ve at least tried.

Neither of us said anything after my last statement. We stayed silent on the phone for a good while. I thought about how in the light white noise of the phone I could hear the ocean. It was stupid, but it was what I was thinking.


The next day I wanted Lane more than ever. I felt more than ever for her. I feel asleep while we were silent on the phone. We stayed that way for awhile. I’m not sure how long the call stayed connected for. I don’t know if she hung up or tried to talk again or feel asleep herself. I just knew I felt like an idiot and I ended up doing something really stupid that day. Something really stupid and childish.

I texted this French girl who was an international student here. I had to do a group project with her one time. I met up with her. I did annoying things like I made her laugh by struggling through a few French phrases. I kissed her and stuff. She was cute and all, but everyone thought she was like ten times more attractive because she was French. I never do stuff like that. Then I went and played racquetball with Cassidy and told him all about what I had just done. I told him because I knew he’d probably tell other people, Kayla for sure, and she’d tell Lane. I wanted Lane to know.

I felt sort of panicky for some reason after that and so I went and hung out with Luke, Graham, and Grady. I figured it’d be good to be with my friends and all three were together at Luke and Graham’s place. They were just sitting around talking when I got there and so after a few minutes of small talk, I told them too what I had just done. That led to them having some questions and so I explained the rest of the story. They told me I was an idiot. I agreed and ended up leaving like fifteen minutes later.

Then I went and drove out to that clearing that I like. When I think about how I went there, I get annoyed at myself. I wasn’t really myself that day. I felt pretty miserable, but I was only thinking about me. I mean I thought about Lane too though, but I wasn’t thinking about her if that makes sense. I thought an awful lot of good things about her too. I thought up just about everything about her that I liked. The one thing I didn’t think about though, was how miserable she probably was. I’m sure she was doing pretty bad and I know she didn’t deserve to feel that way at all, but it wasn’t on my mind at the time. I was just feeling terrible and thinking about how I didn’t have cell phone service where I was.

I slept in my car that night. I set the alarm on my phone so that I’d be sure to get up so I could make it back to campus in time to work out with Grady. I have no idea why that seemed so important at the time. I don’t know why it seemed like sleeping in my car was the thing to do either.

That night in my car, I didn’t sleep all that much. It was pretty cold and it was pretty miserable in there. I would drift off for an hour or so without even noticing I had gone to sleep. Then I would wake up and just be so surprised at how much time had passed. Then I would spend the next fifteen minutes conscious of every second of consciousness. The next minute seemed like it’d never come and sleep seemed like it’d never come again either. Then I’d nod off and the cycle would repeat itself. I felt so horrible when I got up in the morning. I felt like how I felt every Monday morning in high school when I’d wake up after staying up too late for absolutely no reason Sunday night. My mom would be trying to get me out of bed and I would feel just disgustingly tired and even worse because I couldn’t get it off my mind that I wouldn’t really get to sleep till Saturday. It’s seems kinda dumb, but it really was such a devastating thought at the time.

That night wasn’t the low point though. Her birthday was the worst for me. It really was the worst. I didn’t get much done or do much of anything that day. Anyways, needless to say I never spoke to Lane again.
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