In case it hasn't already been made abundantly clear, I haven't been doing much of anything lately. When I am not at school, work, or my other work, I am hunkered down in my little hidey-hole, biding my time and thinking of the possibilities that await when I finally break out of here in August. Most of the friends and acquaintances I once knew here have drifted away, for one reason or another, leaving me with little social life to speak of. I have become resigned to this, and with lesson plans, stacks of grading, a semester-long research project, completely superfluous part-time job, the occasional and desperately needed yoga class, and not to mention a stacked Netflix queue at the ready, I have more than enough to keep me, if not entirely fulfilled, at least busily occupied until the summer. I have become resigned to Boring, is what I am trying to say. As a rule, if not entirely by choice, I do not tend to Go Out. (A brief survey of all the blog posts I have ever posted on a Friday or Saturday night will confirm this.) Thus, on the rare occasion that I do Go Out, I am invariably amazed and somewhat awestruck by the blast-from-the-past nature of running into everyone in Mythaca I know or once knew. Where everybody knows your name, indeed. So let's just call this post the Diary of Why--Where Are They Now? update edition. I hope you're ready for a whole bunch of archive-linking. Ready? Here we go.
At noon on Friday I found myself on the receiving end of a mass text message from Jimmy James, inviting an unidentified group of people to a bar that night to kick off the weekend. I did want to go, in a vague, half-interested sort of way, but I knew that, while he was mostly good-intentioned, I couldn't exactly rely on him or his friends for attention or positive social interaction. I decided I needed a backup plan. I sent out an APB on Facebook for the same bar, same time, hoping I would get at least a couple takers--the more the merrier, after all, and it never hurts to have a buffer zone. As it turns out, I got more than a couple takers, and at one point we had a table of about eight or nine people from my teaching program, all there from a combination of my Facebook invite and/or serendipitous happenstance. The first to respond to the invite was a guy I'll call Eric, though that is not his real name. Showing up at the bar with him served the dual purpose of establishing the afore-mentioned social buffer, and making Jimmy James wonder if we were dating. Score. After Jimmy J's initial greeting ("Hey! You made it!") and a very brief chit-chat, it also allowed me to exit, saying, "Some people I know have a table over there, so, um, I'll be back." When I did finally meander my way back, some time later: "Did you piggyback your party on top of mine? Did you really do that?" Jimmy James asked with that fucking adorable grin.
"Well...yeah," I admitted, laughing. "I kind of did. It's just that, when I hang out with you guys, I tend to get...ignored. So, I just thought..."
"I did feel really bad about that one time," he said, serious now. "And you were just...and then you were gone. You just left."
"Yeah," I said, "that's true. I did." But moving on...
Further conversation revealed that one of his roommates, his friend Alvin, would soon be moving to another city over an hour away (let's call it "Smyracuse"), and the "other person" he was living with (aka his girlfriend) was also in the process of moving out. But that it was for the best. I couldn't help taking secret delight in the fact that his whirlwind long-distance-turned-live-in relationship with the (from all accounts, though I never met her personally) too young, not very bright waitress from out of town hadn't worked out. I also didn't feel at all bad about the text message exchange we had after I returned home, wherein he, drunk, attempted to finagle a late-night invitation to "hang out," and I, against all temptation, pleaded sleepy, and declined. "But give me a call tomorrow, if you want," I added, knowing he probably wouldn't.
Before this, though, before the texting and the should-know-betters, the night progressed and we moved on to the next bar. And who did I see on the way but everybody's favorite commitment-phobe; the gin-drinking, yoga-practicing, breaker of hearts, Andrew, himself. Winter hats and upturned collars notwithstanding, we still made eye contact from several meters away in the half-dark, him accompanied by a petite blonde, me by Eric, both of us mumbling barely audible heys as we passed. So, one more down. But who else would I run into on this night of nights? What other ghosts of Friday nights past?
It didn't take long to find out, as immediately upon entering the next bar, who did I spy standing head and shoulders above the crowd but my astonishingly inconsiderate former roommate, accompanied by his, let's just say, loudly uninhibited girlfriend. They spotted me as they made their way towards the exit, the girlfriend (who, occasional night-time yodeling aside, is actually a very nice person) giving me a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and I immediately regretted any late night and sleep-deprived ill wishes I had ever harbored towards her. "And you know who else is here?" her boyfriend said to me. "The old roommate," and here he fumbled for a name. "The girl...your friend."
"Oh, you mean Y?" I asked, delighted. We had fallen out of touch since the summer, and I hadn't seen or heard from her since.
"Yeah," he replied, smirking a little. "And...she's here with her girlfriend."
"I knew it!" I shouted triumphantly. "I knew she was a lesbian!" Though this was not really such an impressive feat. I had harbored suspicions ever since spotting her in the dark corner of a bar one night last year, making out with a girl. Plus, though we weren't in touch any longer, I had watched her transformation on Facebook, her pictures showing that she had chopped off her chin-length hair in favor of a partially sheared head and a faux-hawk. I was glad to hear that she had decided to come out, and that she had found a girlfriend. I said goodbye to my former roommate and his girlfriend, and not even a minute later bumped into Y, herself. I didn't know how she would react, given that the last attempt at communication I had had with her was a steadily ignored stream of texts and Facebook messages on my part last summer, after which I finally took the hint and gave up. But she was friendly, happy to see me, and greeted me with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We chatted briefly at the bar and then she pointed to where she was sitting, told me to stop by and talk some more if I wanted. I wasn't sure she actually meant it, but walking by her table later, she flagged me down. She introduced me to her girlfriend, who seemed lovely and very cool, and so I sat, and we tried to make ourselves heard over the ear drum-grating music. We talked about our obnoxious former roommate, "And, you know who else I see around all the time?" she said. "That big guy..."
"Andrew?" I said, as having just seen him, he was still fresh in my mind.
"No," she said. "That big guy..."
"Ohh," I said. "James? Ack, James-the-tool!" I wouldn't necessarily characterize him as "that big guy," but then I remembered that the one time Y had met him, despite his usual display of folksy friendliness and blue-eyed charm, she (and my sister) had formed an immediate and lasting dislike of him. (And if I ever need a judge of character I know just who to go to, 'cause those two are usually right on.) She quickly summed him up, referring to him alternately as "The Quarterback," or "The Frat Boy," despite the fact that he was a linguist with a PhD, and had never been in a fraternity or played football. Though raised in the Pacific Northwest, he had the broad-shouldered, corn-fed good looks of a mid-western, football-playing frat boy, and, Y managed to imply without actually saying it, the white bread personality and lack of depth to go with it. The last time I had seen him had been in yet another attempt at renewing a so-called "friendship," that I didn't even blog about at the time because it all seemed so predictable, and I could already practically hear the inevitable outrage and disappointment in my decision-making skills from you guys in the comments section. It ended in an awkward and abruptly-ended (by him) make-out session in my bedroom, after which, surprise surprise, I haven't heard from him since. I know. So totally predictable, right? Let us all pause for a brief moment of silent I-told-you-so. Moving on.
"So you guys hooked up?" Y asked with what I was sure was disapproval in her eyes, after I briefly and stupidly mentioned this last detail.
"No, no," I said quickly, "we just made out a couple times. But it was stupid, and...yeah. He's a jerk." She nodded knowingly.
I quickly changed the subject. After this summer and Y's complete and total radio silence, I had wondered if perhaps she had grown tired of hearing about my stupid heterosexual boy problems, and phased me out in favor of her other friends, ones who didn't keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe I just didn't fit in with her newly developing sexual identity. I don't know. I just knew that I was sorry she was gone, and that I missed her. Boys be damned. When we said goodbye, though I had trouble hearing her over the music, I saw her lips form the word "lunch." I nodded, "Yeah, definitely." I didn't know if she meant it, or if it's just something you say, but then as we were leaving she grabbed my arm. "Text me sometime," she said into my ear, so I could hear her, and I nodded. So maybe she did mean it, then. I hope so. Because, though I may spend most of my air time here rambling on about the males of the species, really, nothing is better than a good girlfriend.