whirlwind-passion-neil-shapiroMy friends and I hang out in Stacy’s room and read from a questions book meant to give interesting topics to discuss at parties, to get to know other people better than those icebreaker games during orientation.

“Okay,” I say, flipping through the book. “Would you rather live a life that’s simple, safe and secure or one full of adventure and passion, with high highs and low lows?”

“I’d vote for the latter,” says Jillian.

“I don’t know that there’s a such thing as a simple and secure life,” says John. “I mean I think they’re getting at the whole like, house with kids and a dog, but I think that’s a pretty unsafe, insecure, exciting life too. Anything could happen even in that situation.”

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Crabby Girl

crabindexOne night in early September, there’s a crab feast in the cafeteria for dinner. Everyone’s so excited, especially the students from Maryland. I’ve never had crab before. John, sitting next to me, demonstrates for all of us. He whacks his crab a few times with a mallot, and then pulls the crab apart. I watch closely but can’t see how he knows what’s the meat and what’s pieces of bone or innards. It looks like brain surgery.

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Writers at Sunset on the Eve of College

marylandsunsetindexWe go back to the outdoor school for dinner, then they drive us all to the beach for the evening. I hang out on a towel on the sand and watch a fiery, cloud-filled sunset with Jen and Christina, two writers who live in a dorm by the Lit House. The Lit House is a special building on campus for all the English majors to have meetings, workshops and readings. Most of our Sophie Kerr weekend events took place there.

“Are either of you taking the freshman creative writing class?” I ask.

“I am,“ says Christina. She has long straight dark blond hair, and wears a beanie. She’s small, one of those small people like my mother who carries a big voice.

“Cool,” I say, flexing my toes and watching a cloud fill with red like a pen burst inside it. “Me too.”

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Eleven is When We Waved Goodbye

dark_stormy_nightI was eleven. I loved things that not everybody loved, like thunderstorms and rainy days, winter, outer space, darkness and the feeling of mystery. I thought about things I read, either for school or for fun, and pondered them long after I’d finished the book. I thought over events in my life the same way. I looked for meanings, for connections, reasons, patterns, philosophies. I had a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings and I was always exploring them, taking them deeper, writing them down. On Saturday mornings I woke up early and sat in bed writing stories. I was just starting to figure out who I was. I felt vivid, like a full moon in a sky full of identical stars.

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Origins – Camp Marcella 1995

AccrossLakeToBoathouseIt’s the first night at blind camp this year.

Our counselors tell us to go to bed, so Leah, Monica, Eva and I have to return to our room. Monica wants to go to bed and keeps telling us to shut up. We try to talk quietly until she falls asleep. Eva and I tell Leah about my first year when we went on an overnight campout in tents and I stepped in a huge pile of dog shit and didn’t know it and they made me throw my shoes outside.

After we all stop laughing, Leah says, “So hey, where do albinos come from?”

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Crowdsurfing (Reprise) – Sour Milk 13

To start this story from the beginning, click here.

bushes2images“I miss just how it feels to wish for someone to call, you know? I miss how special it would make me feel every time a guy I liked talked to me. I can’t really explain the feeling. It’s kinda just like how great it would be every time Andy and I would kid around and play practical jokes on each other, even the times when all those girls came to see him at work. That hurt, but I don’t know, I just feel like I don’t feel anything deeply anymore. My life is just like a dull ache or something. I need some of…something.”

“I have an idea,” Steve says. He looks at me and it suddenly flashes in my mind, exactly what he’s thinking.

“The bushes?” I ask. He nods. I get the CD player going, Steve double checks that Mom and Dad’s car isn’t in the driveway. We hold hands. It’s all about the euphoria of the music.


And there you have it. The End.


Next Week: Something Completely Different.

Sour Milk – Sour Milk 12

To start this story from the beginning, click here.

Cottage Cheese“I don’t know,” I said. “Everything’s turned to sour milk, it seems. Everything used to have a shine that has somehow disappeared. I mean, look how I used to whine about how no one would ever date me, almost every day of ninth grade.”

“Even though you knew that wasn’t true.”

“Well I believed it at the time. But now, now that I’ve been in a few relationships and found out that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be, I feel like I’m too jaded to even believe in love anymore.” I return to the couch and slouch down, hiding my face.

“That’s sad. But I see what you’re saying. Once I caught my girlfriend cheating on me, I just, well I felt like something died inside of me. I never really thought of it the way you described, but I haven’t even flirted with anyone ever since. Wow.”

“Wow is right,” I say, laughing. “I remember when that whole group of girls used to bug me every day to find out who you liked. They were each convinced they were your one and only because you flirted so much with all of ’em!”

“Yeah.” His smile is wistful. “I miss my girls.”


You can think of this penultimate installment in this story like the title track of an album.


Next Installment: Crowdsurfing (Reprise)