JOHN SAAVEDRA JR.
Student Voice Editor
Two years ago, former Editor-in-Chief Melissa Hartz made the bold decision to give me a column in The Pillar. The subject: my life, the people I’ve met, both weird and way too normal, I drank with the best of them, so that I could wake up in the morning and tell you all about it.
I’ve thrown myself into fountains full of freezing water, so that I could no longer feel my body. It’s wonderful to hit golf balls off balconies, your target held in place by empty wine bottles that shatter. The sound of destruction has kissed my ears. Once, and only once, I cried myself all the way to the fifty yard line just to stare up at the sky, hoping that my soul would float away from me because there’s a story in everything we lose.
There were girls who liked to throw parties where the men sat on the sinks and the women collected money for the beer until they were too drunk to think straight. I always waited until they were too drunk, so that I could drink for free. I loved these beer goddesses, their heads always in the right place but unable to follow through, which is the condition of being young.
Jumping the fence in the middle of the night into the St. Elizabeth’s campus always offered me some sort of a painful punishment. My book bag would get caught at the top of the fence as I made the jump to the other side, which would send me flying into the leaves and dirt. I remember wanting to hold a girl’s hand, my pants soiled and my ass sore. She laughed and laughed and laughed. I’ve been looking for that happiness ever since.
A classic excuse, but it holds true: trouble often finds me.
For example, one time I was walking down the street with a flask full of gin and too many bad memories when my associate, The Colonel, appeared out of thin air with a group of girls I was in love with. One was very skinny and she had long toes like fingers, the longest hair I’d ever touched and a smile that attached itself to everything I said. A writer. But I couldn’t talk to her.
The Colonel told me all about it: they’d taken a couple shots and had a race across a field ruined by weeds. The loser would have to dive into a freezing pool naked. The girl lost and was ready to slip off her clothes in between laughter and an amusing thought – The Colonel would like what he saw.
Every young person hopes that they will be groped in a desperate love. Arms will shake and lips will quickly come to know the taste of skin. “I love you, I love you, I love you.” That’s the way we all want our nights to sound.
Somewhere down the line, a friend stopped the girl from stripping off what little clothes she had on – no more than a t-shirt and gym shorts – and told her they needed to go.
“Thank God she stopped me,” she’ll whisper to me later, but I’m not so sure. It’s sad to feel the breath of potential blow past you and be unable to breathe it in.
Well, The Colonel tells me to go upstairs with him and I say okay because it’s 2 a.m. and nothing good could possibly happen. A writer looks for that kind of thing, the point at which everything becomes irrevocably wrong… Like a knock at your door, a skirt that’s worn too high, a soft kiss on your neck that will lead to more angry phone calls, tears after lovemaking, the letters I write my ex-girlfriend over and over after too much booze.
Things go wrong. Soon I’m stumbling out of The Colonel’s apartment and into the cold of night. I call someone I shouldn’t.
“What are we doing?” I ask a girl I’d broken up with a few nights before. “Are we really doing this?”
I have dreams where the women I love are dancing in the moonlight, linking arms and singing the most beautiful song. I’m lying down in the middle of their circle and they spin around me so quickly that I can no longer tell their faces apart. I try to get up, but I can’t.
The grass is wet underneath me and the ants are trying to crawl into my ears. I beg the women to help me. They keep spinning and singing.
I can’t decipher what they’re saying, but I know how it feels. It feels like I’ve lost. These endings frighten me.
But the real moment isn’t singing, it’s firecrackers. The Colonel lights them all around the girl and me like a ritual, but I don’t know what’s being sacrificed. Our bodies on the grass, drenched from the pool and howling in the dark. Making love isn’t what we call it when in nature. It’s called being human.