In the beginning I enjoyed walking to classes on campus, all the old brick buildings, freshly cut grass, and people; I really enjoyed watching the people as they walked about. But I’m a sophomore now, and as much I as enjoyed the walking in September, I know what lays ahead now, snow, rain, and cold. Coffee and hot cocoa don’t have anything against cold wet boots in World History 101.
I’ve found myself in a routine, class, then running, and homework. My classes are all early this semester, so I have free reign of the treadmill on particularly cold days.
Mostly. Sometimes Tony comes in. I’ve helped spot him on the weights before, he complimented me on my strength. I had bragged that I ran track and played soccer through high school, and I thought that my athletic ability had been a good thing. But he’s dating Sugar now, and hasn’t given me a second glance.
My stomach still drops when I see him, it’s safe to say that I’m still crushing hard over him, though he seems oblivious as ever.
When they start getting carried away, I have to end my routine early. There’s no way I could stay and witness that. One day, I just want to shout at them that it’s a hot tub, not a cloak of invisibility. But I don’t think they’d care enough to stop. Instead I give them dirty looks, and storm off.
I end up retiring to my room to start my studies early. On the days that I see Tony with Sugar, I feel incredibly homesick, and driven to ace my tests and get the heck out of here. I’ve considered transferring to South Port Business College, after all I want to own my own business someday. That was probably where I should have gone to begin with. But I know it’s just running away, so I stay and study. A four year degree will get me farther in life, I tell myself.
Sugar hangs around our dorm even when Tony is at class, I’m pretty sure she sleeps here most nights, but I’m in my room long before they leave the hot tub. As much as I hate to say it, she’s not all bad. She’s actually, sort of, nice. She comes in to play pool while she’s waiting for Tony, and I tolerate her fine. Maybe I’d even like her, if she wasn’t with the man I loved.
When I accept flirts from the mascot, my friend Erin steps in and forces me to go on a date. She practically sets the entire thing up, since I haven’t met anyone new since I was a freshman. Sure, I see guys in my classes, but they are mostly lecture halls, and you sit wherever. Most boys pull their caps over their faces and nap.
In the end, she sets me up with Troy. He hit on me my freshman year, and she thinks he’s cute. He is cute. I can recognize a good looking guy when I see one, it’s not that I’m a nun. But it’s awkward at the table. We end up going to Duffy’s, and trying to find a common conversation. He doesn’t like his classes, he doesn’t know what he wants to do when he graduates; frankly, he says, he doesn’t care, it’s years away. I think in my head, that years is right, he’ll probably never graduate with that mind frame.
I excuse myself to powder my nose. I don’t even use powder, but it’s not like Troy knows this. He just grunts at me, as he obviously checks out a girl at the bar. Erin definitely owes me.
On my way back to my date, I was stopped by a man from the bar. He asked if I was in his Modern World History class, I didn’t recognize him, but said that I do take the course. He introduced himself as Lennon, and apologized saying his mother has an undying love for The Beatles.
I excused myself back to sit by Troy, who had ordered us another beer and was scowling at the back of Lennon’s head.
“Who’s that?” He barked as soon as I sat.
“Apparently some guy I have a class with.”
“Hmph.” He grunted and took another drink of his beer.
He grew tired of staring daggers at the back of Lennon though, and moved the date to the sofa off in a corner of the joint. When he tried pulling me on his lap, I had to call it quits. There just wasn’t anyway I was doing anything with this guy, he spent the night looking at the waitress’ bum, and glaring at some guy I’d never met before, and I told him all that.
And he was pretty upset. Really upset, actually.
He went off to flirt with the waitress, and soon they disappeared out the back door of the joint. My first date since Ralph. I hated to admit that to myself, but I hadn’t dated since my high school boyfriend that moved away, and here I was ditched. South Port Business College never looked so good.
I was gathering my purse, preparing myself for a shower and an early bedtime when I saw Lennon approaching me. Even if he was a swell guy, I’d had about enough testosterone for one night.
“Lennon right? it was nice to meet you, but I have to get going.” I said before he could even begin.
“He’s a real douchebag.” He said, ignoring everything I had just said. After a moment he asked if I wanted to dance.
“No thanks. I don’t dance. In fact, I only like guys that have a 4.0, and have ambitions for life, outside of getting buzzed.” I made a move to pass him, and he stepped aside.
“How about we get buzzed, then we can talk about our next ambition.”
I turned on my heel to face him and gave him a little smile and agreed. I knew this would appease Erin, and I wouldn’t feel so pathetic if I didn’t go home at 9 on a Friday night.
He volunteered to walk me back to my dorms, but I said I was fine to make the walk myself. Union Hall was just a few blocks from Duffy’s and all patrolled by the campus police diligently. To make up for it, I gave him permission to look me up in the campus directory and headed home.
He called once to chat, while we both packed our bags to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Then there was nothing left to do, but take the train home. It felt good pulling into the station and seeing my big brother Zeke waiting for me.
We all played football and flew the helicopter, while Mom finished preparing dinner. She was nice to Morgan about burning the dessert, but she insisted she could finish the rest on her own. As much as Zeke said he’d eat the cake, I was happy to have Morgan safely away from the stuffing and green bean casserole.
Dad still has issues bonding with Lewis, which made me sad to see.
I asked Mom about it one day, but she wasn’t sure why Dad got so upset over the little things Lewis said. He was by far more patient with Dean and even me when I was a kid, then he was with Lewis. I wondered if it was because it was his step-grandson that maybe he didn’t have as much patience, but I didn’t dare say it outloud.
Dean had turned two in September, and I couldn’t believe how tall he’d gotten since I’d left this fall. He was attached to my hip most of the holiday, and kept asking me to stay. Another bonus point to South Port Business College. I had begun keeping tabs after the horrid date with Troy. So far, South Port was winning.
There isn’t room for a larger dining table, so some sit in the living room. Lewis and Dean insisted that I eat with them, so I sat in the kitchen at the kid table.
Zeke flew through his dinner, and had dessert while the rest of us were still finishing dinner. He insisted that the cheesecake was perfect, and that there must have been something burning on the oven floor.
Lewis filled me in on his violin lessons, which my parents are paying for as a gift to him, and Zeke filled me in on his progress with his at home college course. He was finishing up his first year at the end of December, and couldn’t wait to be done with it. He seemed happier than before, I didn’t know if it was his engagement to Morgan, or the prospect of a better career, or maybe both.
After dinner and dessert, Morgan and Zeke cleaned up the kitchen together.
I played with Lewis on the floor.
And Lewis spent his time running into the kitchen every time Zeke kissed Morgan. I know he’s excited about their marriage, but he still isn’t a fan of the kissing.
Mom ending up going outside with Dean to burn off some calories. Some of the houses were empty, like the London’s, I imagined they were having dinner with Cole’s Mom out in Millwood. But the Grimsley’s house was full of laughter and forks scraping on china, and I figured his brother Charlie and family had come into town for the day.
“I can’t believe how big he’s gotten.” I mused out loud. “He’ll be in preschool when I graduate, that’s crazy.”
“That’s how it goes, I’m afraid. Then everyone gets their own lives and fills them up until their too busy for anyone else.” Everyone knew Mom was upset about turning fifty in December, she wouldn’t admit it to us kids, but we could tell.
“Is this because Delaney went up to the mountains for the holiday?”
“No, of course not. It’s how it goes though. I barely see Ethan more than once a year, and never on holidays, because everyone just gets so busy.” she smiled sadly at me, “Don’t let that happen to you and your brothers after we’re gone. It seems once my Mom died, we all just went our own ways.”
Mom laughed nervously, “Listen to me, getting all morbid. I’m only turning fifty, it’s not that old right?”
“Of course not.” We both knew that her Dad had died when she started college though, I didn’t know his age, just that he was really young. “You’ll live to be a great grandma for sure.” I added for good measure, to make her feel better, but also myself.
Lewis came outside, cheering for us to come in quick, he was ready to play his recital for us. He was in a Christmas recital, but it took place before I came back from campus, so he was going to give me my personal showing. Zeke had warned that there was more screeching then actual notes at this point, but I didn’t mind. I was incredibly proud of my nephew playing the violin, no matter how it sounded like a cat screeching for it’s life.
The holiday ended perfectly with the boys playing trucks, and my college winning the football game on the television.
I decided to not be hasty though in my decision between South Port Business College and WSU. At least, I had to finish this year out I told myself.
Lorelei is absolutely smitten with Tony, but he’s not really into her. She went on a date with Troy, that ended badly. He was very ACR happy, and she was not. She’s only ever kissed one boy, Ralph before, and nothing past that. I don’t know if she’s necessarily saving herself for marriage, maybe just the right guy? We’ll see.
I don’t remember “Sugar’s” real name in the game. So we’ll call her Sugar, cause that’s what she looks like, a big confectionery cupcake. My daughters were in charge of her make-over, and it’s safe to say they didn’t hold themselves back.
Lewis isnt’ a big fan of turkey, he kept throwing gobs of it at the cat, which with that visual, I can’t say I blame him! He took forever to eat it, Zeke really did eat his dinner and have dessert finished before Lewis finished his dinner.