Freshmen

Put on New Order. No, Substance, please. Yes. Those first few notes picked out on the guitar and it feels like you should be able to go back, but you can’t. What was I? Nineteen? You made us espresso, then a luxury, from an angular percolator, and you covered your dormitory walls with pictures ripped from magazines; beautiful, half-naked people, all. Naked men were newer then, and I would lay on your futon on the floor, gazing up at them, all the people we were going to be. I ate up everything gay in that shitty little town; the bars and the books and the boys dipping their big toe, testing the waters. What was that title? Oh yeah, “Everybody Loves You.” I couldn’t wait to leave.

We made mixed tapes and held parties in the dark under the giant palms and the stars. All those flower children. Remember? I could have cried when everyone got up and danced to Madonna. We were, briefly, all together, free from arrogance and cynicism and moving to a silly, contagious song; everyone smiling and barefoot, holding beers and spinning. They cheered at the end. I was known for my parties.

Warm nights the temperature of our blood; heat lightning across the gulf. We’d sit on the dock and stir the water with sticks; the phosphorescent plankton swirling like constellations underneath. One heron stood still, scanning for fish. You never knew; I’d disappear and hide down there; wanting him to look for me, but he never did. He only loved you. I wish I could tell you I never do that anymore.

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