when I was eighteen (you know how it goes)

By Emily Hunt

I still remember wearing saddle oxfords, skipping practice to get a fake tan, talking to the Catholic school boys, and trying to convince my teachers that my skirt was already this short when I bought it at the uniform shop. I was always flirting with the boys, but never getting attached because they were all stupid and lacked ambition. Their football jackets were nice to wear though, and they were easily outwitted in classroom debates. You know how it goes. It was just a paper town with paper people. If you spit on them, they’d drown.  

//

I was eighteen when I kissed a boy for the first time. I was carrying a newspaper. He was a complete stranger. I’ve only kissed strangers since then. I’ve never fallen in love with anyone I really know. Maybe I’ve never truly fallen in love at all. What is the difference between love and infatuation, anyways? Whatever. He was drunk and a lousy, wet, sloppy kisser. (Come to think of it, I only seem to attract guys with drinking habits.) You know how it goes. He snatched the newspaper from my hands and threw it on the ground. I hated him for doing that. Still do. I don’t even know his name or the color of his eyes, but I still have that newspaper.

//

Everyone is always complaining that their life isn’t like what they see in the movies. I’ve never really understood that, because my life feels just like a movie (more specifically, a low budget indie film). Obviously, we are living very different lives. You know how it goes. My life is just one big, fat, honking, gigantic, stinking mess in sepia tone. Everything will be going great- too good even- and then suddenly, it’s like when you are riding a skateboard, hit a tiny pebble, and you are sprawled out and bleeding on the asphalt before you even know what happened. That’s my life. But with a name like mine, what else am I really supposed to expect to be other than a hurricane? I wish my parents had just named me something suburban like Sarah. Sarah, who doesn’t kiss strangers and falls in love with the star of the football team instead. Sarah, who’s life is predictable. Sarah, who complains that her life isn’t like the movies. Ha- imagine me being as base as that.

//

He missed his flight, and I should have known then that anything between us would always be just out of grasp. I hated him when I met him, I really did. All he talked about was his stupid fraternity and how he was terrified of the moths in his room. I don’t know exactly when things started to change, but I guess it was the day on the beach that we cut our feet on the rocks, discussing our views of God and nature. He loved water. I loved lighting storms over the ocean. His favorite animals were dogs and killer whales. I said I admired foxes. We both loved green. I told him evergreen was my absolute favorite color because it reminds me of used books, Oregon, and tobacco scented candles. That night he wore an evergreen shirt. Actually, that’s when I knew things had changed. You know how it goes.

//

Sometimes I still think about the way he never washed his hair because he liked the way the salt water made it look. Even more often, I think about the way he looked at me with those green eyes. I don’t want to think about it, but I do. I know I shouldn’t think about him at all. He was still a stranger to me then. We were in that ice box of a room, and he was twenty and had never kissed a girl. I was eighteen. We kissed and he asked me, “So what are we gonna do about this?” I told him that we still had time. I was too scared to share my feelings. I should have just told him that I wanted to make the distance work. It’s just that I really thought we had more time. We didn’t. You know how it goes. Turns out, he is still stranger to me now.

//

I will always love doing laundry in the middle of the night. Loading up in a van, and driving way too fast to god knows where. Poorly lit laundromats with no air conditioning. Beads of sweat on our brows in the July heat. A rat runs across the floor. I always lose a sock. The stains won’t wash out of our t-shirts. Who cares? You know how it goes. Our phones don’t work and we are laughing so hard it can’t possibly be healthy. We had curry for dinner. Yum. Roll down all the windows on the drive home. Sleep on the floor. We can never get that back.

//

I shouldn’t have snuck out of bed and knocked on his door that night I couldn’t sleep. I still remember fidgeting on the edge of his bed and avoiding eye contact. I knew what was coming. I played the stoic. I always do. He wanted to kiss me again one last time. I should have said no, but I thought he might change his mind. He didn’t change his mind. You know how it goes. Sometimes I remember the way he pulled on my upper lip, or kissed my collar bone. That was it. I never told him. There were so many things I never told him. We were supposed to hike down to the beach to see the sunrise the next morning. The path was overgrown and swampy, so we went back to bed. That was the last time we ever spent alone.

//

People always do the thing they most want to do. If this is true, then why didn’t I? Or did I? I don’t wanna know. No, I don’t wanna know. I think it might break me. I sit in the same coffee shop almost every day. They still don’t know my name here. Do I even exist? You know how it goes. Write more. Stop eating. Drink coffee. Shaky hand. Head floating. (Note to self: I need to go to the grocery store. I am out of kale. I also need oatmeal. Remember to eat).  

//

He asked me to wake him up before leaving. I did. I remember running out of the room before he could get out of bed and try to kiss me. I’m not really sure if I regret that or not. I don’t think I do. You know how it goes. Everyone took pictures of the sunrise from the breezeway. He hugged me just like anyone else. We didn’t actually say goodbye. We didn’t say anything at all. How was I supposed to know this was really goodbye? Before I knew it, he was really gone. The sunset was beautiful from the airplane that night. I honestly thought he would reach back out. He didn’t. I don’t even wanna know if he thinks about me at all. He was the lightning without the thunder.

//

Every time I get what I want I decide I don’t want it anymore. Why is that?

I forgot how to let my feelings out. It took me four months to cry. I remember lying in the top bunk feeling everything all at once. There was some strange, gentle comfort in realizing I never really knew him. I was eighteen. You know how it goes. Blame it on the distance. Go ahead, just blame it on the timing.

//

There was always something nauseating about seeing people use their so called faith as a means of becoming socially relevant. All those false prophets of the internet. People proclaiming their love of the God of the Bible Belt and then doing who knows what on the other side of the screen. It just felt wrong. I was eighteen, and I understood why the world was so quickly running away from this so called Christianity. Where was the love in their actions? Where was the truth in their words? Pointing fingers until the other person burns. Cheat on your wife. Piss on your kids. Take the drugs. Then, look perfect on Sundays. Put on the mask of a proud business man. Use the grace for yourself. You know how it goes. Fold your hands and close your eyes. Repeat the incantation. Empty.

//

I remember talking to you at four in the morning. You wouldn’t pick up the phone. Verbalizing is hard for you. That was always the problem. You were always searching for something. You told me how your dad is insane. Your parents’ marriage is falling apart. They say it is all your fault. You drink away the pain. I know you, and this isn’t you. It’s not your fault. You want my body, but not my brain. I can’t do that. I can’t. I won’t. You told me you love me. We don’t speak. I was 18 the last time we spoke face to face. You know how it goes. It’s not that I don’t miss you, but we just can’t communicate like this. Did you really mean it? Do you love me? Or is that just the alcohol talking?

//

They always say follow your dreams, as long as that dream is practical, makes bank, and steals your passion. Join the system. You are just another pawn in the game. Fall in love, or for heavens sake, at least look like it. You’re worth nothing if you’re lonely. You know how it goes. Honey, brush your hair. Those glasses make you look geeky. Be pretty. Be smart. Wait! Stop! Don’t be too intelligent. Don’t be too full of fire. You’ll scare everyone away. Water yourself down until you drown.

//

He tells me he’s been drinking. Another boy who only speaks when the liquor is running through his veins. Telling me too much information. I am not your hypnotherapist, snap out of it! I can’t handle this. Always acting like I’m bigger than my body. I’m not. You know how it goes. My shoulders ache at night from carrying around other people’s secrets. Always giving, giving, giving. Am I really that hard to love? I need to get out of this state. I need to start going new places. I need to get off my phone.

//

The flies don’t bother me like they used to. There are six swarming the residue in my coffee cup. I have been sitting in this cafe for fours hours now. Oops. I come here to think. You  know how it goes. I need to finish reading this book, but I won’t. I’ll go to the bookshop and buy another one to start instead. I can never seem to follow through with things. You know how it goes. I might buy another guitar. Maybe it won’t just sit in the corner of my room. I need to drink water. The spout is empty. I’ve grown a lot. I had to.


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