I’ve decided to take Shannon up on her suggestion–well, request, really–that I date other people. So, the next time this guy called me up for a date, I went. I rode my bike through the snow to the park above the campus, where he said we’d meet, but I didn’t see him.
I didn’t mind, for it was so beautiful there in the snowfall.
I stood and watched the snow blanket the meadows and felt the silence grow deeper.
Then, my phone rang and this woman I know asked me out. I decided sure, why not. So I rode my bike back down the hill, into town, to the arcade, which was closed. She was standing outside in a sleeveless gown.
I got a text from that guy who’d asked me out. “I’m thinking of leaving soon.” Well, sure, if maybe he would’ve shown up, he could leave. I didn’t even bother texting him back to ask where he’d been.
My new date talked about art.
Then she asked for my autograph.
I love giving autographs to people. I mean, they get so excited, and what does it cost me? Nothing! I always write something personal.
When you’ve got a flame burning bright inside
The coldest night begs frost to hide.
Keep burning, Beauty.
Love, Marigold Tea
Then she started talking about her career plans.
“I want to teach all the poor children in the inner cities,” she said, “you know, the little underprivileged ignorant kiddos who can’t afford books and whose parents don’t get them library cards. What a waste! I want to bring education to the unwashed masses.”
I exaggerate. She wasn’t that bad. But she still rubbed me the wrong way, going on in such a sanctimonious manner, feeling so superior.
I sort of lost it. I yelled at her, I’m afraid. I told her that her own ignorance was showing by making assumptions about urban families. Yeah, I’m afraid I totally lost it.
That pretty much ended the date.
When I got back to the dorm, one of my dorm mates was eating a midnight snack.
“How’s it going, Mari?” he asked.
“Not great,” I replied. I told him about striking out on both of my dates.
He just laughed and told me the campus was full of beautiful people.
“Open your eyes!” he said. “Take your pick! It’s like a supermarket out there! Every aisle is bursting with the ripest fruit, shipped in from all over, just waiting for you to sample!”
On my way to the lecture the next day, I kept my eyes open. He was right! There were beautiful women everywhere!
I made it a goal to talk to a few of them before the lecture.
During the lecture, I sat next to Jaclyn. While I listened to her snore, I wondered, what was I doing?
Why was I even thinking of other people?
Just because Shannon told me to?
They’re beautiful, but I’m not into them. They’re not Shannon.
I guess my heart may be four chambered, but, right now, each chamber is full of Shannon.
If I can’t boot her out to fill it with other people, maybe I should just let it be.
I spent a few hours playing video games, so I didn’t have to talk to anybody or think about anything except crunching zombies.
I got high score, and it felt great to see my initials on the top of the leader board.
Tomorrow, I’d take my finals. Then I’d graduate and head back home.
While I studied, I thought back on this time at campus. Had it really been different than last time? My classes were easier. My dorm mates were great. I made a few more friends, and I think I learned a bit about myself, and, maybe, about life. But if I’m really honest with myself, I’ve got to admit that, just like last time, the whole experience centered around Shannon, once again.
I don’t know what makes love, and what makes us fall in love with the person we fall in love with. Why did Mom fall in love with Dante, and not Uncle Shea or Frank Renaldo?
Why don’t I love Jaclyn back? Why was I so rude to the flaming-dress girl?
“The heart is made up of around half a billion cells,” I read in my physiology text. “The rapidity of atrial contraction is such that around 100 million myocardial cells contract in less than one third of a second. So fast that it appears instantaneous.”
Less than one third of a second. That was how long it took for me to fall in love with Shannon. And I guess that her image was imprinted on all these half a billion cells. No wonder I can’t fit anyone else inside!
No amount of logic can outsmart the reasoning of half a billion cells!
I realized that with finals coming up, I should just go with what I feel. I didn’t have the energy to argue with all my cells. We needed to save our energy for tomorrow’s tests!
Heck. I’m a physiology student. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the body’s got its own wisdom.