This is a prompt from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop: What made them so interesting? Remember a unique classmate from your past. Write about him/her.
(inspired by writingfix.com).
The breeze hits my face as I stand on the brick walkway of the courtyard – hot. I’m not used to hot. I’m used to every breeze bringing a chill, and very likely a sting of rainfall. I’m used to Seattle. This…this is very much not Seattle.
I stare down at the paper in my hand, trying to interpret the tiny map of my new college campus. My roommate stares over my shoulder, just as lost as I am as I turn the paper around. If I line the map upside down with the lake in front of me, I’ll be able to see where I’m going, right?
“All I need to do is find the fricking bookstore!” I complain, a little too loudly. Only, I didn’t say fricking. After the words leave my mouth, I bite my lip and look around, nervously. I already stand out from the crowd, my bleach-blonde hair slightly orange from a botched job and my ultra-pale skin practically glowing against the sun-bronzed flesh of the native Floridians around me. I’m already the odd-new-kid-from-the-rainy-city getting the critical stares from the passers-by, I don’t need to be the potty-mouthed-odd-new-kid, too. Luckily, no one heard me.
“Hi! Are you lost?”
Crap. Make that ALMOST no one.
I turn around, plastering on my fake, friendly smile, and nod. “Yes, a little.” I admit, feeling my cheeks flushing with embarrassment. The pixie-ish woman in front of me doesn’t seem to notice.
“It’s okay, it’s an odd campus. Where are you headed?” She reaches to take the stack of papers from my hand, looking down at my schedule peeking out from behind the map. Her voice holds the tinge of an accent which I pinpoint as northeastern. Huh. Evidently, I’m not the only one a long way from home.
“The bookstore. Can you point me in the right direction?” I ask, hoping that she’s not one of those vindictive types that likes to run the new girl in town around in circles.
“Oh, yeah, sure.” Another bright smile. “I’m actually on the way.” She hands my paperwork back to me. “And you’re in one of my classes. You’ll like Dr. Singer, she’s great. Quirky, and if you get on her bad side, you’ll be there until graduation, but I’m sure you won’t have a problem.”
As we walk to the bookstore, we talk. I learn that her name is Eve (name changed to protect the totally awesome), she’s from Maryland, a feminist/vegetarian/radio show host/activist/honors student who had the gumption to petition the school to create her own major. I immediately feel out of my element and slightly ashamed when I confess that I’m just a new girl who’s spent the last 8 years of her life as an actress, (which, let’s face it, is one of the most superficial industries around), and that this is my first time in a “real” college. She doesn’t seem to mind, though, and when I see her come through the classroom door on Monday, she immediately pulls out the seat next to me and sits down.
Eve and I were practically inseparable for the next 4 years. She and I were exact opposites, which is probably why we got along so well. She was passionate about her causes, an active member of Amnesty International, leader of the GLBTA group on campus, and an outspoken (read: loud) advocate for the rights of women and children. She was one of those speakers who can so passionately articulate their point of view that it’s hard not to get swept up in their enthusiasm. Me? I was lucky if I could get a sentence out without rambling nervously.
Eve had been all over the world and new amazing bits of cultural information from countries I’d never even heard of. She cooked me (vegetarian) traditional recipes from Argentina and Brazil, and served me a traditional drink, yerba mata, in a guampa con una bombilla (gourd with a long metal straw) every time we pulled an all-nighter to complete a paper. (Which, I’ll just be honest, was pretty often.) She’d even spent a semester as an exchange student in South America. The furthest I’d ever been was Mexico…Mazatlan, the touristy side in particular..which definitely doesn’t count for exciting cultural adventures. She read important novels written by Gloria Steinem, Emmanuel Kant, and Friedrich Nietsche. I re-read The Lord of the Rings and Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles.
We couldn’t be more opposite…and we couldn’t have been closer. She even moved into the same apartment complex I did. She was the first person I met at Orientation, and we graduated mid-year together. She challenged me in ways that I don’t even think she understood, and I know that a big portion of the determined, strong, passionate woman I am today is due to the wonderful person she was, and is.
We don’t talk anymore. She’s back on the east coast, and I’m in Seattle. I know she’s continued with her broadcasting; I picked up one of her radio shows on satellite radio once, and grinned like an idiot at her familiar voice. She’s still writing, and I stumble across something she’s done online every now and again, but we haven’t had an actual conversation in years.
Sometimes, I think about her, and then that old quote pops into my head, “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”