If we could stay in his room permanently, I would have absolutely no problem with that.
Well. Maybe I would. We already spend pretty much all our time in either his room or my room. My room is better because Dad always works late, but I love being in Scott’s room. Only, we have to be more creative with our excuses about why we’re in there. I’m not sure his mother believes we’re spending that much time on homework.
When I used to imagine what it would be like to be Scott’s girlfriend, I pictured things a lot differently. We’d have tons in common. We’d never run out of things to talk about. We’d be out all the time, having those exciting city night dates I used to dream about. But things aren’t like that. We hardly go anywhere. Sometimes we run out of things to say, which is incredibly awkward. And it doesn’t feel like our relationship is moving forward at all. Can I even call it a relationship if it’s mostly a physical thing?
I want to tell Scott how I feel. I just don’t want him to get mad. The leaving part comes after the getting-mad part.
No one’s on the spinning dish. I sit on it while Scott grabs hold and runs to get it going.
“We should go out more,” I suggest.
Scott jumps on. “We go out.”
“We went to the movies.”
Yeah, one time. It doesn’t make sense. Shouldn’t two people who love living here as much as we do go out more? I love being alone together, but sometimes it feels like Scott only wants to be with me physically. We don’t really have much of an emotional connection. We don’t talk about things the way I thought we would. I guess it’s because we don’t have that much in common. Which people always say is so important, but I don’t think it has to be a problem. We have chemistry. Isn’t that the most essential part of a relationship? Without chemistry, you’re just friends. We definitely have spark. And the making-out part is what I look forward to the most, so why do I even care that we don’t do more stuff together? So what if things aren’t the way I imagined they would be? When are they ever?
Maybe I should focus on what I have instead of what I don’t have. Like how we just got to Scott’s place and no one is supposed to be home for two hours.
As soon as he opens the door to his building, we’re kissing. I go up the stairs backward with Scott kissing me the whole time. When we get to his door, Scott digs around in his bag for his keys, still kissing me. I hear the keys hit the floor.
“I might have to stop kissing you to pick those up,” Scott whispers, his lips still on mine.
“I’ll give you three seconds.”
He bends down, grabs his keys, and immediately starts kissing me again.
Scott’s room has a powerful effect on me. Just going inside triggers this overwhelming anticipation. Every time I come over, it’s like I still can’t believe I’m finally here.
I love all the pictures Scott has of his family. He’s about four years old in one of them, hugging his dog, Snuffleupagus. That one always makes me want to cry. There are pictures of Scott white-water rafting and snowboarding. He has a PJ Harvey poster and ticket stubs to a Demetri Martin show. Scott insists Demetri Martin is the funniest comedian in the world. I watched his show at Town Hall online and I agree. He draws these hilarious sketches and plays weird instruments and understands things the way I do. The way
As soon as we get to Scott’s room, he shuts the door. I lean back against it.
“What’s that smile?” Scott says.
“Like you have a secret or something.”
“Oh, it’s not a secret. It’s totally obvious.”
Scott presses up against me and starts kissing me again. I love how he’s always pressing up against me. I think it’s extremely hot.
“What music do you want to hear?” he asks.
“Whatever you want.” Lots of times when we’re making out, I don’t even notice what’s playing. It’s like my body can only take so much input, so it blocks out the music to prevent sensory overload.
While Scott goes over to put some music on, I get on his bed. There’s something about lying on his bed and looking out the window that feels so familiar. His navy-blue comforter. The heavy curtains on his two windows. The soft glow of the lamp in the corner. It’s almost as if I knew what his room would look like before I even got here.
He has a cool view. The building across the street has a penthouse with an enormous patio. A line of electric purple lights runs along the patio’s wall. I stare at the purple line, thinking about this new project Mr. Peterson assigned. We have to figure out our optimal career path by researching the things we’re most passionate about. It’s making me realize that the passion I have for New York might be the key to figuring out what I want to do with my life. What if I can channel my love for New York into a career? Like doing something to help make the city a better place and preserve all the things I love the most about it? Preserving what defines the character of this city must be some kind of job. And creating new ways to connect the city environment to the people who live here is probably a real job, too.
“Have you started that new project?” I ask.
“For the Box?”
“Uh, no. I’m putting it off for as long as possible.”
“Why? It sounds fun.”
“Fun?” Scott is still searching playlists on his computer. “What’s fun about a project that forces us to decide what we want to do?”
“It might work for you. I’m already getting some good ideas.”
“I’ll pass. There’s plenty of time to figure it all out. I really don’t need the pressure. I thought you felt the same way.”
“I did, but ... I don’t think it’s a bad thing to start figuring out what I want to do with my life.”
Scott stays focused on the screen. “Whatever,” he says.
I can’t believe he’s not happy for me. He didn’t even ask about what I might want to do. I get where Scott’s coming from, though. We’re like the only two people in our class who don’t know where we want to go to college or what we want to do when we get there. We’re bonded by indecision. But I’m relieved that I finally have an idea about what I might want to be, even if I don’t know exactly what that is yet. Everyone’s been spinning around us in this whirlpool of activity while we’ve been stuck in place together. A couple weeks ago, they all morphed into these academic freakazoids, fretting over application essays and worrying that they might not get into their first-choice college. At some point, I stopped feeling sorry for them and started to envy them.
How can everyone else know exactly where their lives are going? Did they all have an epiphany that Scott and I missed? John has this special social work program picked out at a college that doesn’t give grades. Sadie wants to be an elementary school teacher, which she will rock at. She can get in anywhere she wants.
This could be the answer I’ve been looking for. Waiting for my real life to start is no excuse to waste the life I have right now. The only reason I’m with Scott is because I took control of my life and changed it to make what I want happen. I created that change myself. Why can’t I do the same thing with figuring out my career?
When Scott comes over and gets on top of me, I stop thinking.
Our relationship might not be everything I want. But when we’re together like this, everything is perfect. Right here, right now, this is all that matters.
The past two
months could not have flown by any faster. The holidays were a blur of turkey and tinsel, divided between here and back home. Mom had Christmas at our house this year, so it was the whole extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins invading our territory. All I could think about was getting back to Scott.
I was hoping that Mom would lay off the criticism since it was a special occasion and all. Not so much. We had variations of the same conversation every day. A typical one went like this:
Mom: Did you finish those college applications?
Me: You asked me that yesterday.
Mom: I’m asking again.
Me: I only have two more with late deadlines.
Mom: What are you waiting for? You’re on break; this is when you should be working on them.
Mom: April’s applying early decision to Worthington University. Did you know that?
Me: Uh, yeah.
Mom: She’s going into premed. Her mother must be so proud.
Mom: It must be exciting for her, knowing what she wants to do with her life.
And on and on. It was beyond annoying how she assumed I’m always going to be this directionless loser. I didn’t bother telling her that I’ve been getting so much closer to figuring out what I want to do.
It was also annoying how slowly everything moved back home. I never noticed it before. Everyone in suburbia is stuck in slow motion, like no one has anything important they want to accomplish. It’s as if no one is motivated enough by the next thing life has to offer to want to get there. They even speak slower. The crazy thing is that none of this used to bother me. But it grated on my nerves the whole time I was there.
When April called to ask me over, I went. Candice never showed up. She still didn’t want to see me.
“You can’t really blame her,” April said. Her room looked different. Her old bookshelf had been replaced by fitted shelves. Her books were all lined up so you could see each one. Before they were stacked two or three deep.
“I didn’t think she’d be mad at me for this long,” I said.
April stayed quiet.
Things weren’t the same with us. Not at all. I had been hoping that once we saw each other again things would go back to how they used to be. What’s changed other than me moving away? We’re still the same people. We should still be best friends. Except we’re not. And I don’t know if we ever will be again. Especially since April got way harsh with me. She basically accused me of being all snobby with my “new life in the big city,” complaining how I bragged about Joe being better than Bean There. I didn’t have a whole lot to say after that. I couldn’t wait for break to be over.
It’s such a relief to be back. Being with Scott again will make all of this irritation go away. At least, I’m hoping it will. We haven’t moved forward at all. I was hoping that things would evolve over time. That he would start opening up to me more and we’d connect on a deeper level. Don’t boys always take longer to get close in relationships? But what we have still doesn’t feel deep enough.
If I were painfully honest with myself, I probably wouldn’t even call what we have a relationship. It’s more like we have this thing that’s never going to be what I want. Unless he’s changed over break. Maybe he just needed some time apart to realize how much I mean to him.
Normally, I’m not this kind of girl. It’s never taken me hours to fall asleep, lying there with a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach, imagining all the things I’m afraid to say. Keeping everything in is driving me crazy. So I was planning to finally tell Scott everything that’s been bothering me right when I saw him again. But I want to give him one more chance. I thought about him the whole time we were apart. I’m sure he thought about me, too.
Finding the perfect Christmas present for Scott was my main goal over break. We were going to exchange gifts before I left, but Scott said he wouldn’t have a chance to get me anything. Maybe he just said that so I’d be surprised by how awesome my gift is. He’s probably known exactly what he wants to get me all along.
When the doorbell rings, I race out of my room to buzz Scott up. My heart pounds as I hear him getting closer. I fling the door open before he can knock. And there he is. Smiling and holding out my present.
“I missed you,” I say.
“I missed you, too.”
And then we’re kissing and moving into my room and I forget about our presents for the next few hours. All of the bad feelings I’ve had about us evaporate.
Eventually, Scott says, “I’m starving.”
“Do you want to order in?”
“Totally. It’s so cool your dad lets you do that.”
“Like he has a choice. You know he’s never home for dinner. And I don’t cook.”
I pull Scott off my bed and lead him to the kitchen. My present was abandoned by the door when he got here. I’d put it under the tree if our tree were big enough to put presents under. This tree is embarrassing. It’s this little fake one Dad bought a few days before Christmas. He’s never here for Christmas because he always goes to my uncle’s house in Massachusetts, so this is the first time he’s had his own tree. The tree sits on an end table, looking sad. And silver. I get that a big tree like we always have back home wouldn’t work in this apartment, but couldn’t he have at least gotten a green tree? Even if it’s fake? Dad seems to like it, though. And I got to pick out the ornaments, so it’s not completely heinous.
While Scott goes through the take-out menus, I take my present over to the couch for inspection. I can tell he wrapped it himself. The ends are all crooked and he used too much tape. It just makes me love him more.
“How about pizza?” Scott asks.
“What do you want on it?”
“Whatever you want.” I’m trying to guess what my present is from the size of the box, which I would classify as medium small. Too big to be jewelry. Too small to be a bag. Not the right shape for a book or DVD. It could be—
“What do think you’re doing?” Scott says, suddenly behind me.
“Nothing.” I gaze up at him with wide eyes, all innocent. “I was just looking. Not opening.”
“You sure about that?”
“Positive. See?” I hold my present up.
“Hmm. Well, the pizza is ordered. The presents are in the house. I think it’s time.”
“Yay!” I run to my room, grab Scott’s present, and leap back onto the couch. “It’s like Christmas all over again! Except this time it doesn’t suck!”