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“You should go to the moon,” he says. “I’d go to the moon. And Mars. Did you know it takes two months to get there? Or it takes four years if you don’t leave at the right time. So you’d have to leave at the right time.”

He is sitting on top of a table swinging his legs. He needs a haircut. He is excited and scared and smart and I love him.

“We’ve done all the tests,” he says. “We tried the needle one with the string and it swung and it said it will be a girl. My wife is doing good, she’s happy, she’s healthy, we’re all doing good.”

He is going to be a father, this man. I walk away and write poems about him on flashcards. I think about how he has changed me as a person. I think about him being a father.

“I wanted to be a guitarist,” he told me. “A musician. Now I’m sitting on this table.”

Years later I see him again, with a tiny pink sweater thrown over his shoulder. His baby girl is growing up. Is he still growing up?

“What do you think it would be like to leave? To never see your family again? What if I didn’t hug my father goodbye? Do you think I would regret it?”

“I wanted to go to the moon,” I said, “when I was younger. Now I just want to see as much of this planet as I can. I haven’t even seen much of this country, not yet. How much time do I have? Why is it always going by? Should I hurry?”

“Juxtaposition,” he said from the table. “Do you know what that means?”

The moon is far away now. He is far away now. Mars is farther. I still remember what juxtaposition means. The flashcards are duller and the pencil is smudged but the words are still there.

 

 

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You think about him on the drive home between the spurts of howling along with Father John Misty; “chateau lobby,” you croon together. You need to get out more, that’s probably all it is. Seven minute conversations seem so much more important and meaningful than they are when you haven’t had a conversation of any amount of minutes in months. Are your headlights actually on? You’re not really sure, driving your mom’s expensive car with both hands clutching the steering wheel like it’s a driver’s training session. You can see well enough anyway, and you can’t risk removing a hand to fiddle with the strange knobs sticking out from behind the wheel.

“You took off early to go cheat your way through film school!”

Misty’s singing the same song over and over because you just bought it on iTunes and are still in that particular phase of new-song-listening. By the 30th time you’ve pretty much got the lyrics down.

It doesn’t feel like anything, particularly. His blue eyes or green or whatever are far north now and you’re not trying to chase them down. But it is sad in a way, like the grocery bag boy, forgotten about a few hours later after a brief rush of love. There is a person there. You can be apathetic all you want, but it’s still true.

There is a very specific conversation I’ve had before with people I loved or cared about at the time, or with people I had wanted to love or care about in the future, when they were leaving, or when I was leaving (but usually the former), leaving for good, and I’d have this conversation knowing I’d never see them again or speak to them again, etc. It’s only happened a few times, this conversation, maybe only twice that I can remember clearly. Once was in second grade, when the girl I called my best friend moved to West Virginia, and I knew I would never see her again, even though I wrote down her new address on a scrap of paper I then proceeded to lose, and now I’ve lost everything of her: her name, her face, and her address.

The second time was many years later, in High School, with the boy I (secretly) called my boyfriend, that someone else would call my crush; a strange friend-like-but-not-friend-like relationship. Relationships get more complicated as you get older, but the simple moments of leaving stay simple and stay with you. He was just changing schools, but I knew that our strange fragile relationship wouldn’t last, wouldn’t survive the separation. I knew I would never see him again, and I told him so in our very last conversation, and though he denied it, though he said we’d see each other again, hang out, talk, go places, we didn’t, we never did, we never have, we never will.

I feel another of these conversations approaching, but I feel like the next one will be different, possibly won’t include a conversation at all, and it might be directed at or include the city I live in, was born in, have spent most of my life in, as well as all of the people I’ve ever met, or seen, or spoken to on the streets of my childhood neighborhood, in the state and region and road I grew up in and on and around. I’m leaving, moving, growing up and taking off, and saying goodbye to people and places, or maybe not saying goodbye at all, maybe just thinking back, reflecting, taking it all in once more as someone drives me to the airport, or as I cross the state line in my little black sports car, trunk full of belongings which will be my material memories of this place I’ve been in for so long. And maybe it’ll be different this time, this goodbye will be different than all the rest, won’t be for forever; we’ll still have holidays, and funerals, and maybe a couple months in a few years if I lose my job and my apartment and move back home for a while. I won’t lose everything from this relationship, although the faces will fade, and I might get lost on the side streets next time I drive on them.

Today I was talking to my friend about graduating college – a thing he and I both are going to experience here pretty soon – May 5th, 2013, to be exact. He was telling me his post-graduation plans, and I was keeping quiet about my own. I don’t really know yet where I’m going go, what I’m going to do. I also told him that the more college classes I take, the less intelligent I feel.

I think there’s a lot of different ways you can take that statement. It can mean that I’ve realized how unintelligent I am, or how bad at college I am – But that’s not what I meant.

I meant that the more college classes I take – the more information I take into my brain, the more subjects I get exposed to, the more history I find out about, the more people I learn about that I previously didn’t know existed – the more unintelligent I feel. I’m graduating from college soon, but I don’t feel like I know very much at all.

As my graduation date approaches, I’m beginning to wish I would have double-majored. Or took a third minor. Or majored in Theatre, or Linguistics, or French, or Biology. I’m not done learning – I don’t think I ever will be. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I know enough – like I’m intelligent enough.

Sure, I could keep going to school for forever – for the rest of my life. Maybe I would do that, if it didn’t cost thousands of dollars per year. But people don’t go to college to learn, they go to get jobs.

So, in order to keep learning, without going to college – what do I do? How do keep experiencing things in my life  which will improve my understanding of the world? Or the universe? How can I feel like each day is improving the person that I am?

Do I just have to find a job that I like? That makes me happy? Do I just use my college education for what it’s meant for: getting a higher-than-minimum-wage-paying job?

Do I travel? Do I meet and talk to new people as often as possible? Do I read books and blogs and listen to podcasts and radio programs and watch cool movies?

What do I do?

Once they had me that scrap of slightly-thicker-than-normal paper with my name on it, what do I do?

Library guy to his friend: Why do you wear all those fly ass golf shirts if you don’t golf?

 

Guy #1: We have that really smart guy in our group – Ryan?

Guy #2: Ryan?

Guy #1: Yeah, Ryan. He’s super smart and really short. He has a really high-pitched voice?

Guy #2: Oh.

Guy #1: Yeah, he got us like 10 sources already for the paper.

Guy #2: Cool.

 

Classmate: “Is that my phone? Did somebody text me – does somebody care? …. Nope.”

 

“I’M ON A DIET UNTIL MARCH FIRST! YOU KNOW THAT!” – lady looking at candy bars at Meijer, to her friend.

“Hey guys, don’t worry: That snapping and straining you hear is not the support cables breaking!” – Guy at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., as the doors closed on a overly-packed elevator with me inside.

“I hate this fucking game!” (a guy in the library, obviously not doing school work!)

“… the first lady – Michelle Obama – …” (like we didn’t know)

“He bit it. He died. He slit his own throat.” (the things Philosophy majors talk about… scary.)

“…she looks younger now that she’s fat.” (the things girls talk about…)

“He has big dreams, but reality is going to come crashing in.” (a woman talking about her son.)

So, here’s the sitch. (I’ve always wanted to say that in real life but the proper moment just never comes up.)

Recently (about six minutes ago), I was walking down the hall. Well, OK, the hall was actually a sky-walk (one of those tube-y things on college campuses that connect buildings so no one actually has to set foot outside). Anyway, there I was, walking down the hall/sky-walk.

I’ll admit that at that moment I was being one of those people who walk and text on their cell phones at the same time. I was trying to, anyway. I don’t really text that much, let alone walk and text at the same time. We are talking high-level functioning human stuff, here.

Even better that I was texting this guy from Saudi Arabia who doesn’t really speak English. He’s in the English language program at my University. Basically, we hang out sometimes and, er, talk. (We are “conversation partners”. It’s all rather fancy.) So, when I text him, I can’t be all: “lets meet 2morrow 4 food-age, bro!”, or, “wassup homie?!” — you know, my typical text language. Yeah. I can just imagine the confused stares that would bring about.

OK, so there I was, doing all this multitasking, when suddenly, a wild college student appeared! AKA, a thirty year old lady in fancy pants (dress pants, you might call them). I was gaping (I’m sure looking all intelligent) down at my phone when I heard,

“Do you have a pen? – I could have?”

Me: uhhh… wait what just happened? “Um, I don’t know….”

So then I dig immediately into my (rather tiny) purse and spot the four pens that are hanging out in the bottom underneath my keys and my magic gum (I’ll tell you about that another time).

I have a brief mental moment of consideration. These are like good pens. Not those little BIC ones that are found on every floor of every room in every building on campus. These are my Pilot G2 babies. I have a red and a black and a green and a blue (for every occasion!). Should I give one of these to this random person – fully knowing that not only have I never seen her before, but I will certainly never see her again, AKA, this is me giving away my pen. I mean, she didn’t even say that lame thing that people say when they’re all like, ‘hey, can I borrow a piece of paper?!’ You are not going to be giving it back, though, and both parties know this.

So, I did my little purse-digging, briefly (hopefully not too long) stared at my little pens, and looked back up at her with a sad face, saying, “No. I’m sorry!” And then she walked away and I clutched my pen-containing-purse to my chest and ran quickly away in the opposite direction. The End.

 
Does this make me a horrible person? I don’t think so. The only reason I ask this is because just before I was walking down that sky-walk/hallway I had been in a Philosophy class. Dang you, Philosophy.

I feel like this is sort of similar to those situations when homeless people/others ask you for change while you’re walking down the street, and you don’t want to give them any – for whatever reason – so you go and pat your back pocket, shake your head like you’re surprised to find nothing there and go, “Sorry, I don’t have anything. Must have left my two rolls of quarters at home today. Sorry!” (I’ve even done the back-pocket maneuver. You think I’ve ever kept a wallet back there? Nope.)

What really gets me is that I messed up my text message because of it! I’m supposed to be helping this guy with his language skills, and I go and send him the following: “So how about we meet tomorrow after your class tomorrow and then maybe go to the farmer’s market?” Tomorrow. Did you get that? Well, then again, maybe that helped him.

Maybe this a life lesson: Don’t attempt to walk and text at the same time, Jenni. It’s just not going to work out for you.

Whatever. You still can’t have my pen.

 

 

1. Where’s Monaco? I think it’s by France. Or maybe it’s in France. Or maybe they just speak French there.

2. The next time you see someone you don’t know, go up to them, introduce yourself, and ask them how old they are. Let’s get over this whole my-age-is-my-secret crap!

3. Girls! Why are so many of you so pitifully needy? That’s not attractive, and it makes me hate you a little bit. Stop.

4. Has anyone else ever thought about how weird wisdom teeth are?

5. Why do we name hurricanes? Isn’t that sort of the same as giving a serial killer lots of media attention?

6. When people die, newspapers usually give them a one-liner obituary. A lot of the time it’s something like, “Betty enjoyed knitting.” What will your obituary sentence be?

7.  Are “hipsters” even a thing anymore?

8. Can we all just be honest with each other and talk about how ugly TOMS shoes are?!

9. In novels, there are flat characters and round characters. The same goes for real life. Are you a flat character or a round one?

10.  If someone tells you that they don’t like an idea that you have – even if you think it’s really great – accept it. Move on. They don’t like it! End of story. What are you, an only child?