And, election-related interruptions over for the time being, our story continues….-D.
Last night, Steve Bees’ girlfiriend, Sarah, stayed over. She’ll stay over again tonight—she’s here to get more of a feel for the place, I suppose, plus, of course, they don’t get to spend a lot of time together. This morning she joined us for breakfast in the Great Hall, where we had oatmeal, fresh corn muffins, butter, cheese, and several different kinds of jam. There is no fresh milk and, today, no eggs. There are no large tables in the Great Hall, and only the one in the Bird Room, so we made a picnic of it around a small table by the door to the library and we ate looking out the window. There was snow last night, the first of the year, and it left a light dusting, white on the sere, winter pastures, that melted as we ate.
When I say “we,” I mean Steve and Sarah, Kayla and Nora--that is, the Nora who started when I did, not the yearling--Eddie, and me. There were a lot of other people eating breakfast in the Great Hall that morning, of course, but we couldn’t all eat together because what I said about the tables.
“So, what do you think?” asked Eddie of Sarah.
“I’ll take it!” she replied, referring to campus, to our community.
“Well, leave some for us!” Eddie said, laughing.
“Don’t worry, we’ll share,” said Sarah, looking at Steve as though she meant to divide the entire school equally between the two of them. She would not stop flirting with him for more than a few minutes at a time. He gazed back at her with a mix of awkwardness and pride. I think her presence made him feel vulnerable among us in a way he normally doesn’t.
“I’m glad you like it,” he said, smiling.
“You’re lucky,” interjected Kayla. “I’ve seen people whose partners didn’t like this place and that didn’t really work. Not long-term, I mean.”
“Kayla!” said Nora, as though Kayla had said something embarrassingly direct, the way children sometimes do. Nora has been going through a phase of treating Kayla like a kid sister lately.
“What?” protested the kid sister, “It’s not like we don’t all know they’re an item!”
“This corn bread is really good,” said Sarah, changing the subject. “If I were you, Steve, I wouldn’t ever leave this place. I wouldn’t graduate, the food’s too good.”
“Maybe I won’t,” he said, still smiling.
“No,” she said, her mouth still full of corn bread, “because I am not you, I’m me, and I will kick your ass if you don’t become the awesome lawyer we both know you were meant to be.”
“You see what I have to deal with?” exclaimed Steve, in mock exasperation.
“Nice problem to have,” I told him.
“I want that problem,” said Eddie.
“So, go out and get yourself a girlfriend,” said Sarah. “You’re a handsome guy.”
“He knows that already,” I said, in a stage whisper.
“Which girl, though?” said Eddie. “They’re all so wonderful, I want all of them. That is my problem, and that’s why I don’t have your problem.”
“That, too, is a nice problem to have,” I said.
“I know, it’s glorious,” sighed Eddie, licking fruit preserve off his fingers and looking over his plate for the next thing to eat. Rumor has it he has slept with at least a quarter of the female population of the school. None of them are complaining, it’s just that none of them want to share him with quite so many others long-term.
“You’re really going to do the lawyer thing?” I asked, of Steve.
“Sure. I actually got in.” He meant into one of the law schools he’d applied to.
“Really? Congratulations! I didn’t know that. I didn’t think anyone was taking applications for next fall, yet, though.”
“They’re not. This one starts in the spring. What are you doing?”
“I don’t know yet,” I told him. “I’m getting a masters’ degree in conservation biology and see where things go from there.”
“Is that a deer?” Sarah asked, looking out the window. We all looked, watching as the deer—there were actually three of them—walked up onto the Flat Field and then behind the yew hedge, headed for the Apple Orchard.
“The two smaller ones are her fawns from this past year,” I commented. “I see her a lot. She likes it here on the main part of campus, maybe because there’s no hunting.”
“It’s going to be so weird next year when you’re not here,” said Kayla, to me.
“Imagine how weird it will be for us?” I countered.
“Actually, I don’t think it will be weird at all,” said Steve.
“Yeah. Kayla’s used to you being here, so campus will seem weird without you, but we’re not used to seeing Kayla at grad school. We’re not used to grad school at all, so however it ends up being, that’s how it will be. It won’t seem weird at all.”
“That’s true,” I said, but I wasn’t really sure.
“Think about this,” he said, “when you first left home for college, who was that weirder for, you or your parents?”
“I don’t know. My parents, I guess. It didn’t seem weird to me at all. I never thought about that before.”
“I bet your parents did, though.”
“Steve, you continually open my eyes,” I told him, and meant it.
“And you mine,” he said, and clearly meant it.
“What are you all doing for Thanksgiving?” asked Nora. I already knew she was going home to celebrate with her mother, still an awkward thing for both of them.
“Going to my parents,” I said, shrugging a little. I always go home for Thanksgiving.
“I have a sister,” said Eddie. “She’s not a shit, like my parents are, so I’ll have dinner with her.”
Sarah’s eyebrows went up at that, but Eddie didn’t elaborate. The rest of us already knew why Eddie called his parents shits, and that they had called him worse, but we didn’t explain, either.
“Well, I’m going home, too,” said Sarah. “I’d rather stay here with this one, but I have obligations this year.” And she didn’t elaborate.
“I’m going with Charlie to his sister’s place,” said Steve, and I looked at him in surprise.
“How’d you get that invite?” I asked.
“Last year I gave Charlie a ride there and back—Maria lives pretty close to Sarah—and this year when he asked if we could do that again, I told him Sarah would be out of town this year, he invited me to celebrate with him. Sarah—I mean, the farm manager, Sarah—and her family are going, too.”
“He’s never given me an invitation like that,” I said, and I’m afraid I sounded more jealous than I wanted to.
“Maybe you didn’t need it,” Steve told me. “And that is a nice problem to have.”