A sick, hot paleness sank over me. Suddenly I knew I was not invincible, that my intellect was not fixed, and that my strength was, in fact, subject to harm, depending on the environmental circumstances in which I found myself. Put simply, I now knew I was not always the same person. This terrified me because it made me wonder what I really was inside. I looked around at the other students in the hall — some were happy, some somber, some shy, and some confident. It felt like I was not a part of any of them. I was exempt because I did not know why I was exempt.
As I was pondering all these things, a girl of about 19 or 20 years of age came and sat down beside me. The first thing I noticed was that she was a beautiful girl. Her hair was long and blonde with a tinge of gray — like those stalks of gorgeous grasses that grow by the ocean. That’s all I could think about. That, and how she was talking to me. She asked me if I had finished the book we had been reading for existentialism class. I replied “Yeah, I finished reading it last week.” That was a lie. I had googled the summary and analysis of the text online, and with a close observation of word diction from myself and a hinting of context from the professor during lecture, I had figured out everything I needed to know about the book in order to get through the class with a stellar grade. Yeah, yeah, I know. Call it a dark gift. But to be fair, I think more students have this gift than not.
“Did you love it?!” she inquired expectantly.
“Yeah! I loved it! It was so amazing!” This wasn’t a lie. I really did love what I had read of it.
“Me too,” the beautiful girl continued on. “I couldn’t believe how much emotion and conflict she was able to put into this novel. My grandmother is on the borderline of being schizophrenic. I wish I could talk to her about it, but I don’t know. That’s probably not a good idea. It may freak her out a little bit. I can’t talk to my parents about it either or else they’d be like ‘what are you reading for school?! this is so sensual!’” At this point she laughs, and she continues on. “You know. I wish I had someone to talk to about it.” She laughs again — friendly in nature.
“Yeah. Me too,” I smile but reply somberly.
Suddenly I wish I had not replied as such. Maybe she would have wanted to talk to me about the book if I hadn’t been so indifferent. Oh well. It’s too late now.
“Are you a philosophy major?” she asks.
“Oh! That’s right! You said you were a writer, I think…”
I smile. “Yeah.”
“Oh my God, that’s so cool! My roommate is a writer, too. She does like, creative writing, or English, I think, or something like it…?”
“There’s a creative writing concentration for English. Maybe she does that?”
“Yeah! I think that is what she is. She has this typewriter and gets drunk and just writes all this crazy stuff on it!” She makes air gestures as if she was some kind of a madman typing sporadically on a magical typewriter, then motions to where the paper would have been sticking up from the top, plucks it out then ‘throws’ it into the air.
I laugh softly. “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool. I’ve always wanted a typewriter,” I muster longingly, “they’re so cool and beautiful.”
She nods excitedly. “I know right?!”
I hear the doors behind me let out the class preceding our existentialism class. A sadness sweeps over my heart as we both rise up off the bench and together make our way to class as if we were friends. Something seems weird to me that we should both know to get up and go to the classroom at the same exact time — there’s something rather incredible behind the obvious logic of it. Or more so, how we both knew the obviousness of the logic, or even more so — how I felt like we were friends because of this shared existence inside of the obvious logic.
I take a step toward the classroom door. I think about how this is all so ironic — how someone can feel like your friend for only a few short seconds. Maybe she was my friend for a few short seconds. But then again, I somehow feel as if the very start of this friendship was the last time we would ever speak to each other ever again. I take another step toward the classroom door. This girl whom I had spoken to for the first time, ever — this girl — whom I did not even know a name by which I could find her or call out to her, was, on a personal level, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I would never get back. Another step. “Let me get real with myself,” I think. I wish I had the balls to ask her if she wanted to hang out later. I wish society allowed me to say things like “Will you be my friend?” Instead, “You’re so stupid” are the words of that depressed, old bitch that I hear beating down on the bongo drums of my head. Another step. Step. I see my own eyes rolling themselves back over into the skull cavities of my world. Step. I put my hand out and press it firmly against the door with such little thought that it seems unnatural. And, as I open the door to the classroom, I get that I’m clearly missing the revelation I am supposed to be gaining from ‘existentialism’ class. At least I get that, right? More steps, and I sit down in my usual chair.