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2011-2012 Essays

"Fly Me Home"
By Jessica Stafford

I drive up to the lonely, polluted beach and grab my journal.  I pick a big, flat rock to sit on, one a few yards from the shore, and begin writing a song about everything that has been going on in my life.  Flashbacks of my family’s disappointed eyes and the angry creases on their foreheads cause my pen to go crazy.  My phone begins to ring.  I ignore my ex-boyfriend, Steve, whom I’m still living with since I have nowhere else to go.  Great, I get to look forward to going back to a place where I get sexually harassed every night with cocaine-stained-beer breath. Even the beach mocks me, letting me know I cannot tame it with my surfboard, that I am useless.

A baby seagull begins to play with the soft, wet sand before me.  He carelessly dances around in circles, free-spirited.   That used to be me.  That is exactly what got me in this mess.  Now everything is so hectic that pursing a Photography Director career while simultaneously finding my place in the music industry seems so pathetic.  The wind begins to slap me in the face with sand.   My text ringer goes off.  It’s Becky telling me about the coffee shop guy hitting on her again.  She complains about how being nice has its consequences.  HA!  I look down at my journal.  Wait, what I was writing about?  Why should I even care about this drama?  Never have before, so I won’t start now.  I throw my journal closed and run back to my truck.

Three days later… Although it’s autumn, it’s still Texas, so it’s humid with a taste of breeze.  This weather will continue for the next few months before it starts heating up again.  A khaki messenger bag is clinging to Drew, a guy I’ve never seen.  His hunter green jacket contrasts with his sweet, curious blue eyes which are lightly framed with thin rimmed glasses.  His dirty blonde hair is pulling off the spiked look.  I find myself holding my breath and I can’t help but smile.  He sees me smiling and smiles back.  When we finally talk, I invite him to go watch the midnight premiere of Twilight with me.

It’s a week later and I’m with Emily, my Herb Provider, the one who took my herbaginity, a joke between the two of us. Emily has bracelets strung to her arms like lights on a Christmas tree, hiding her reality.  She is always so relaxed and easy-going, but she only calls when she wants a friend to smoke with.  I like Emily and I wish she liked me too-more than just as a smoke buddy.  Emily is my sin, whereas Drew is my innocence.  In a few months, she’ll try to get me to have sex with her skater boyfriend, Rick, who will offer his love to me.  I probably shouldn’t have suggested he was gay, maybe then he wouldn’t have tried so hard to prove me wrong.

I offer my apartment to hang out for the evening.  Steve, the ex, usually sleeps on the couch, but he won’t be home from work for another hour or two.  Emily, Rick, and I are relaxing-them on the couch and me in a chair.  Rick has six blunts rolled up which we will have finished before I leave to go see Twilight.  I don’t know why we are smoking so many, so much at a time, but I’m not complaining.

Becky walks in with two and a half blunts to go.  Up until the year she met me, she was always one of those good, shy kids.  She has always tried to keep me from doing bad things, but later turns into a hypocrite.  She is usually easily influenced, one of the many things I love about her; I don’t even care that she tried to have sex with Steve.  Later I will look back at all she’s done and wonder if she was trying to be like me… She has come to pick me up to go see Twilight.  The movie is forty-five minutes away, we have offered to pick Drew up, and she has agreed to be the driver.  We offer her a hit, but instead, she takes a seat on the other side of the room.  Since she’s never driven and flown at the same time before, she figures it wouldn’t be good to start tonight.

Time to hit the road, but first, Becky has to gas up.  She’s never done it on her own before-her father’s always done it.  She goes to a gas station that has only one pump.  She drives beside the pump and pauses.  She drives around to the other side… and pauses.  She now begins to drive around and around and around and around.

And around…
I picture us on a pretty, mesmerizing merry-go-round.  It’s kind of fun…
And around…
And…
“STOP!”

I have to instruct her how to get the gas tank side to the gas pump.  I turn to her as she throws the car in park and yanks the keys out of the ignition.  She holds up her hand to me, shaking her head.  I laugh at her while she’s pumping the gas.  When she finishes, we laugh together with her saying she should have gone ahead and smoked.

Neither of us remembers the drive to Drew’s, but somehow, we manage.  The windows are rolled down and she has a Marlboro Medium in her hand, a brand I got her hooked on.  I’m chewing gum trying to get rid of any evidence on my breath (although the gum is probably just hanging out on the roof of my mouth).  Right before I move back to Virginia, I will attempt to stop smoking cigarettes, for the first time of many, for Drew.

There are three theaters showing the movie, so although most of our group can stay together, two must go to a different theater.  I ask Becky if she’ll be ok with my newly found friends.  Later, Alex, one of the guys from the group, and I will get pretty close before I move to Virginia.  He will be a guy I do a lot of stupid stuff with and never stay too far out of touch with.

Drew and I find seats in the rear on the right.  I can remember clearly where we sat, and I remember the line to get in was about as long as it was for Passion of Christ (another movie I was obliviously tagging along to), but I can’t remember waiting in the line or why we chose those seats.  He isn’t like most guys who just jump into making out.  This makes me nervous because I start wondering if he doesn’t really like me.  I’m not pretty enough?  Do I put off a friends-only vibe?  Am I so stoned I can’t even keep up with our conversations and yet I don’t even realize it??  Later he’ll tell me he’s still a virgin and that he’s mostly only dated one girl since high school, maybe middle school.  Paranoia versus nerves… who will crack first..?

I start laughing at the fact that I was so self-conscious, when deep down, I already know he’s mine in one way or another.  I look down and realize he’s holding my hand.  I laugh even more because I hadn’t noticed.  I look over and he is in the middle of a joke.  Has he been talking this whole time?  I might as well be rolling on the floor laughing by this point.  Too bad the movie isn’t a comedy… By the end of the night, he and I begin a friendship that will last us for, hopefully, the rest of our lives.

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