They made sense at the time, which terrifies me, because what makes sense now that’s making other people shake their heads in sorrow?
The older I get, the more horrified I am at the things I did when I was younger. These things seemed fine at the time, but now I shudder.
Here’s one. I finished college a semester early (to save money, which, again, in retrospect, I am horrified at because I saved $2,000. That’s it, y’all: two thousand dollars. That is all I saved. When I could have had another semester of learning and being with my friends. I was so dumb. But $2,000 was a lot of money back then. That’s when tuition was a mere $4,000 a year. FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR! Can you imagine?)
Anyhow. I finished early and decided the best thing to do with my time was go back to school, only this time at the University of Texas in the English graduate program. I don’t know – to be a writer or something. I didn’t pick wisely, though: I enrolled in a rhetoric class and a medieval lit class, where I learned (and still know) that in Middle English, the “k” and the “gh” in words like “knight” were pronounced, so it was “Sir Gawain and the green kah-nicht.”
This knowledge has not been useful to me in my career. Or even in Trivial Pursuit.
I also took a squash class. The sport, not the food.
That was the only class I got an A in, even though I stopped going to classes in the middle of the semester. I did not formally withdraw, because I needed to be a full-time student to stay on my mom and dad’s insurance. I just stopped going to class. My squash teacher didn’t notice because she had just gotten engaged and I guess she just gave everyone an A.
This is relevant only because I had to move from Houston to Austin. I found a place to live: My friend K, with whom I worked as a lifeguard in the summers, was an undergrad at UT. She and her roommate, R, needed a third roommate – theirs had moved out after the first semester.
I moved in.
I moved in a week before classes started so I could spend time with my then-boyfriend, whose mom and dad lived in Austin.
K and R hadn’t returned to Austin yet, so I would be alone in the apartment, the dream of young people in love/lust.
(Alas, Austin had a historic ice storm that week that made the highways impassible, so not only did I not see my boyfriend, I had to trudge through snow to find an open grocery store once I had eaten all the food in the apartment, which consisted of a box of fudgesicles.)
Anyhow. In all this aloneness, I had decided – I still can’t believe I did this but it made perfect sense to me at the time – I would redecorate the apartment.
I had brought with me, from my mom and dad’s in San Antonio, a bunch of paintings.
I don’t even remember how that came to pass – if my mom offered them to me or if I asked for them.
But I had paintings my mom and dad had gotten in Spain.
And I decided these paintings – street scenes of Madrid – belonged not in my bedroom but in the living room.
So that’s where I put them.
Without asking my roommates.
One of whom I had never met.
And I used nails.
In the walls of an apartment.
Is it obvious I had never
- Rented an apartment before?
- Shared an apartment with roommates before?
When K and B returned, K saw the paintings. She, a drama major, said brightly, “Isn’t it – kind – of you to share these paintings with us!”
It gets worse.
When we moved out at the end of the semester, we still had a month left on the lease. The apartment was going to sit empty.
So I gave the key to my college friend Warren, who was starting a job at Texas Instruments or someplace like that.
Neither K nor B had ever met Warren.
I did not ask K or B if it was OK.
I WAS NOT ON THE LEASE. I HAD NOT EVEN PAID PART OF THE DEPOSIT.
Oh my Lord.
When Warren moved out, I went up to Austin and cleaned the apartment again. All it needed was vacuuming – he had left it clean and tidy. But K was angry with me. She came over to my mom and dad’s house and yelled at me.
What if Warren had left the place a mess? What if he had damaged the place? What if they’d lost their deposit?
I was super defensive – and I was defensive because she was right and I was wrong.
That was the last time we spoke. In a fight. After years of being friends.
A few years ago, I found K on facebook and apologized.
She replied that she didn’t even remember the incident.
Which is the beauty of being lucky enough to have good people as friends in the first place – they will forget and forgive.
I hope my current friends are as forgetting.