Thursday, September 24, 2009
Calmy Pants, or, Asinine Thinkers and a Warm Water-Calm
After Shakespeare class, I rode the elevator to the top floor of the JFSB and laid on the only full-length couch in the whole building (mine, all mine) to read some Anglo-Saxon poetry and bite my cuticles. Before I laid down I cried for a couple seconds. Later, I will write something about the difference between restorative tears and hopeless tears. It's probably kind of like the difference between contact lens solutions, or between different types of artificial tears. Anyway, I cried for a moment, beautiful tears, big warm ones that slid comfortingly down my face. Drippy ones that took a second to dry when I wiped them with my two index fingers. The hopeless ones dry insensitively, too quickly, before you have the time to really feel them. But these were enveloping ones, enveloping me in love. Somebody (Up There) is really enveloping me in a whole lot of love, even with tears.
So I cried for a couple seconds, sitting up, facing the giant window in front of me. It felt really good. I was really glad I had worn my gray wrappy Gap sweater, because it's warm outside, but I need to snuggle with myself occasionally. Snuggling with oneself is incredibly soothing, especially on the only full-length couch in the building. I laid twisted towards the back of the couch with my gray-paper Anglo-Saxon poetry book and read it, taking breaks occasionally to write nonsense in my orange iridescent journal, and to text some nice people. I bit the end of my right third finger for a while, coaxing the skin off with my four front teeth. I carefully moved my tongue to catch the small shard of skin, then picked it off the end of my tongue with the tips of my fingers. I turned a page.
The way The Couch is set up on that top floor, it is one side of a square. The opposite side of that square is a giant wall-size window. The two other sides of the square each consist of two armchairs. Nobody was sitting in them when I was crying. That would have been weird. There was a girl in the same room, but not in my square. She watched me cry, but unintrusively. I appreciated that.
Two days ago, or Monday or something, at the poster sale on campus, I was flipping through heavy books of posters with my friend Matthew. We were barking back and forth about and at all the asinine pussies who go to our school, both of us particularly crabby at the time. We were making each other laugh, regardless.
As we stood there swip-swip-swipping the posters, and Matthew spouted about how he's graduating in playwriting, how is he going to get a job, and I joined in, I am graduating in English, how am I going to get a job, and we got a few good yelps out, a blond boy peeped up from the swirling delicate crowd behind me to say
"Hey, I'm graduating in English too,"
I, in my on-campus poking manner, like a porcupine, barked at him (so much barking)
"Yeah? What are YOU going to do with it?!"
"I'm going to be a professor," he smiled simply.
"Yeah, you get good grades, because everyone who goes to BYU gets good grades, and then they have no problem getting into graduate school. Me, I go here, but I get normal grades. Normal grades. I get normal grades," I bawled loudly, eyes bugging out of my head. This boy looked completely unruffled, to my dismay. He did look speechless, like people usually do, but not nearly as flustered as one would like.
"Well, yeah," he smiled again. He shrugged.
I sighed dismissed it and turned back around to palm through posters. He gave me another look, irritatingly calm, before he walked left, towards the most pussiest posters in the room. Matthew and I continued our spat, he with his messenger bag strapped what it looked like was uncomfortably across his chest and hands flying everywhere and me silently giggling so fiercely that it probably kind of looked like I was about to crumple up like a piece of one of those yellow mailing envelopes on the floor and burst into tears from it, which I almost was.
Back to the couch. Two days later, or whatever.
I was laying and reading, and biting and twisting around and rubbing my sandaled feet together occasionally to keep them warm. Up walked Mr. Calmy Pants English Major and sat in the chair on the left side of the square, the one closer to my couch (MY COUCH!!!!) and further from the wall-sized window.
This is interesting, I thought. I don't think I've ever seen someone twice on this campus. Not even Lanee. Just kidding, maybe Lanee. But only three times. This is my full-length couch, and my square, I thought.
But for the first time, literally, I can tell you, for the first time in weeks, months, I didn't mind that someone was sitting near me. Why didn't I? This was the most irritating person. Because he was the least consequential. Just some annoyingly pleasant simpering peeping BYU student from the poster sale. But I didn't mind that he was there. I liked that he was sitting so close. I felt as though we were close. And by close, I mean, within ten feet of me. He pulled out his black Macbook (good choice, stylish Calmy Pants) and placed it on his lap. He typed.
"Hi," he whispered. We were in a very quiet place on campus, one of the quietest, which is why I remember it and slip up there occasionally.
"Hi!" I whispered back.
"From the poster sale," he said. This man spoke all in commas.
"Yeah," I said. "What's your name?"
"Darren," he smiled.
He smiled and looked back down and typed.
I glanced at him not sneakily at all, and puzzled. Slammed my brain from side to side within my head a couple times, like people do when they have water in their ears. Why in the name of all that is holy did I continue to take little glances? Julie is not a glancer! Julie is to be glanced at!
Because his calm was astounding. Just his calm existence. In the poster sale I had turned, completely dumbfounded, to find this glowing calm behind me. What was this glowing calm doing behind me? Who wants glowing calm behind them, in front of them? I do. Sitting there in the quietest part of campus feeling calm was perfectly delicious, more delicious than most things I have done in my life. Darren-calm just fell over me like a sheet of warm water.
Darren typed and I read.
Mostly I texted, and I wrote one more thing in my orange book, but we'll pretend for the story's sake that I'm one of those girls who actually reads more than a half a page at a time without getting completely distracted. Some people I know can read entire chapters at a time on campus--it's really astounding.
So I will now admit that we played the stare and catch the stare and throw it back game. I was kind of really surprised that someone as calm as Darren obviously was would be playing this catch-and-throw with someone as obviously spastic and wiggly and loving as me, also someone who was obviously not on their best wardrobe circulation, but he did. He played that game with me. He played it so hard.
I laid there reading the Battle of Walden for about an hour, and Darren got up to answer his phone. He left his computer, on which I saw an open Word document and an open blogspot New Post. Promising. At BYU (I don't know how it is at other univehsities) if you answer your phone and stay in the quiet places, you get basically spat upon by everyone around you. Goyem. He did the appropriate thing and darted like a deer with his iPhone out onto the roof to talk.
I turned on the couch and looked out onto the roof, where he stood with his back to me, draped calmly over the railing on the edge. His shoulderblades made a clean equals sign under his green t-shirt. Hmmm.
He came back inside, and collapsed like a folding chair with his laptop, and soon after, I got ready to go to the library. I zipped my backpack as slowly as cold molasses has ever come out of the jar it comes out of, or the tree, or whatever. I felt the air, still calm, so I figured it was good to leave. The story up to this point would all have happened anyways, and maybe I'd run into him again. He wasn't going to do anything.
I walked halfway down the hall to the elevator.
As my foot swung up, like in a cartoon strip, to take the next step, it stopped in mid-air as I heard
"Julie," from behind me.
There came Darren, running down the hall to catch up, and very suddenly he was right in front of me. If you were wondering what he looks like, it's less like a Darren and more like a Conrad, or a Nick. Maybe a Joseph.
"Can I have your number," he said.
I smiled. In my glasses and my wrinkled t-shirt, trembling there in my gray sweater, with my Kirkland meal replacement shake-breath, I smiled very largely.
And so it goes.
at 4:06 PM