I’ve been in Seattle for eight days now.
I never particularly liked my college roommate, not in college anyway. Darcy is loud, she’s messy, she drinks too much, she’s kind of a slut. She dabbled in the harder drugs, the tougher men, and sketchy scenes I tended to avoid in college.
But I am fucking glad I came here.
I’m sitting on her couch, a menthol cigarette held clumsily between my fingers. It’s ten in the morning, Tuesday, and I’m listening to Darcy’s call to her boss. The bitch does PR for some of the hottest bars and venues in Seattle. She’s doing exactly what she went to college to do.
I’ve been here eight days, and I’ve hated her half the time I’ve been here. For my own reasons, of course. She has the life she wanted, and she was irresponsible as shit in college.
And here I am, crashing on her couch as I run from the life I fell into after playing it safe and toeing the line all through school.
Talk about fair.
I take a small drag of the cigarette in my hands. I’ve started bumming Darcy’s cigarettes. I’ve never really been a smoker, save for a few I would bum from Eric when I was wasted in school. But for some reason, when I took a drag from Darcy’s menthol that first night I showed up, it felt so terribly, wonderfully cliché that I fell right beside her with every smoke break she took.
Some of the ash falls to Darcy’s black sweatpants. I rub it in. I’m terrible at this smoking thing.
Finally, Darcy stops pacing and hangs up her phone, then shakes her hips in a victory dance. “Got it off, girl! Now what is it you want to do so badly that little miss ‘No, Darce, we can’t skip intro to Communications at eight in the morning the day before Thanksgiving break,’ has convinced me to play hooky?”
She flops on the couch next to me and picks up her coffee mug. “I mean, you did have a plan for this grand adventure, didn’t you?”
I smile. “Road trip?”
Darcy chokes on her coffee, swallows, then laughs. “A road trip? You can’t be serious.”
“I talked to my boss last night. I can work from the road. He’s not happy about it, but it was that or I quit. So I work from the road. You can work from the road, can’t you?” I take a dramatic drag from the cigarette, fighting the urge to cough. “You in?” I ask as I exhale.
“Karen, I can’t take that much time off. Not for an impulsive little road down to Tijuana or wherever the fuck it is you had in mind. Did you even have something in mind?”
“Not really. I thought we could figure it out.” I’d felt really cool during that dramatic drag, pause, proposition I’d just had. Now my ego is flailing. “You did stupid little trips all the time before.”
“Yeah, in college.” Darcy pushes her platinum blond strands behind her ears and puts a cigarette up to her lips. “I have big kid responsibilities now. I can’t just disappear for a week anymore.”
I don’t say anything, just lean toward the coffee table to smash the cigarette into the ashtray. I watch her as she lights her cigarette with a grace I’d always envied. She’s right. She’s not in college anymore.
I’m crushed as I realize I’m not either.
I try to laugh. “You’re right. It was kind of a stupid idea.” I get up, grab our empty cereal bowls and my coffee cup so that she can’t see the tears forming. I was counting on fucking getting away.
She watches me carefully as I walk to the kitchen, reading me. It’s one of the things I liked about Darcy, she had a tendency to know what people weren’t saying. She paid attention.
As I rinse the dishes in her dirty, tiny sink, I hear her sigh.
“What the hell,” she says loudly. “Why the fuck not?” I hear her bare feet padding toward the kitchen. She stretches against the door frame. “You’ve been a pretty sad sack this past week, and I have been working like a fucking pull-horse.”
She imitates my pithy little drag-pause routine, blows the smoke in my face. “Let’s fucking do it.”
For the first time in weeks, I feel relieved.