It’s funny, the heavy difference between someone saying I need you and I don’t need you. I’ve said both and been told both, and I think this is where my chemical makeup got screwed up somewhere along the way. My reactions to being told have always differed vastly from those I tell.
But maybe I’m only applying the words to an emotional sense between two people who have been intimate. Who am I fooling, saying things like “between two people who have been intimate.” People who have fucked, people who have hooked up, people who are hooking up.
It’s all about the timing, it has to be. Is that all relationships ever are? Good timing or bad timing. Being in the right place at the right time, and so on and blow forth.
I knew two people who were adopted. One was an acquaintance, another was a girl I met at a pregame, both from college.
Teddy and I met freshman year and always found ourselves at the same parties and hangouts. We had maybe five one-on-one conversations over the course of four years. It’s funny how sometimes things work like that.
He always said that being adopted never bothered him and that you could feel free to joke about it. That was his ice breaker, and he dealt it well. I had some friends that were relentless, every aside was a jab at Teddy not knowing his real parents or being a dumpster baby. He’d laugh just as hard as the rest of us. He really made you believe it never bothered him, and would even set you up for the punch line.
He was also into sports. Deeply, into sports. It was something I saw our sophomore year that made me rethink his being.
We were watching a baseball game in the fall and his team was trying to make it toward the playoffs. We sat watching, Teddy twirling a plastic whiffle ball bat. He gripped it tight and held it taught right before the pitch, ready to hit the ball as if it were to magically shoot through the screen right at us. Unfortunately, he was from a city so shitty that it allowed all of its inhabitants to be giant assholes when it came to their sports, forcing outsiders to accept it as a norm. He would openly and proudly use his city as an excuse for his behavior, the same way California people think its ok to be late and New York City people think its ok to be cooler than you.
As this particular game intensified, Teddy grew more rigid. He talked less to us and more to the TV, suggesting who to put in, where to throw the ball, what kind of pitch to throw, etc. At the top of the eighth inning, his team, already down one out and behind in the score, hit into a double play, ending the inning and leaving them with one less chance to win. He exploded, hitting the bat into the staircase until it shattered into plastic chunks. I think a piece landed in another buddies cup, but he didn’t mention it if it did.
It was one of those moments where we all played it cool and pretended nothing happened, but later someone said, “I’m glad there weren’t any girls around.” Like the time Wes came bursting into our apartment coked out of his mind waving a loaded gun he brought from the dealers to show us. My friend and I sat frozen that time too, making no sudden movements, living in a come-to-life DARE ad. That’s for another time.
After his scene, Teddy sat right back down and went back to the game, saying something about his city as an excuse. It was later explained to me that sports and outbursts carried Teddy everywhere he went, just that no one had thought to warn me beforehand. How do you? Hey, come over to watch the game later, but just so you know, Teddy is going be there and sometimes he breaks shit and gets scary. Hold onto your cup if you sit next to him.
As far as I know, no one ever brought it up to him, the connections being so palpable that it seemed the only way to diffuse the tension in the room was to make an adoption joke and have everyone laugh.
Then the right and wrong timing, where Dasha and I met at a small pregame where I knew three people and she knew one. She had a nose ring that I wanted to flick. We barely even spoke until we had moved to the bar, and by then I was with my friends and already introducing her to everyone at the table. She bought us a round, which was the first time a girl had ever done that in our four years. I was instantly intrigued, which is sad how easy that happened, because in real life, women buy rounds all the time and it's a normal occurrence not even worthy of a double-take.
Dasha talked shit to Wes about their neighboring areas from their shared home state. I was enamored by the time she left, leaving me with her number written on a napkin. When I asked her about her name, she said she was Russian and had been adopted, leaving it at that. It wasn’t her defining feature, and I really liked that. Her confidence radiated from her pores.
She didn’t have a defining feature, that’s how cool she was. I was a senior and she was a sophomore, which made her even more of an enigma. What was a sophomore doing at that pregame? What was a sophomore doing buying us a round of beer?
That whole weekend, I wrote a 20 page paper for a class, and I only remember that because of the timing of things. Dasha and I texted periodically, but I couldn’t handle the distraction of so badly wanting to see her. I handed in the paper Monday morning, telling myself I was taking the rest of the week off. You can do those sorts of things senior year, and I felt like I’d earned it.
We planned a date for Tuesday and went out to a diner. After, we went to a mall and walked around, talking the whole time but not wanting to do it around campus. We found an old game store and bought Don’t Break the Ice. We went back to my place and played a few rounds. She was grossed out by the shape of the apartment and I explained to her the long weekend. We had beers before noon.
I drove her to her apartment to pick up her laptop and books and we went back to mine so we could continue hanging out. She did some work in the living room while we passed around the bong and Wes and I watched as much of The Wire as possible. After hours, she had to meet up with her roommate for dinner as a proof of life, and then she came right back over. We both had greasy hair, and when Wes got up to the bathroom, we pounced on each other, our hair standing straight up after as evidence.
Throughout the first day, she made a few comments about me not doing any work, and without going into detail, I kept saying that it was my week off. I thought I was cool, a senior who made his own schedule, taking a vacation mid-semester because I could and because I wanted. An hour would pass, and then she'd whip out some sort of sass about my lack of work. It was sexy how she was comfortable talking shit. We stayed up late fooling around, and she left around 4AM to go back to her apartment to do more work. She really worked hard and I admired that, even though I didn't show it.
The next day, I cleaned the apartment, even organizing the coffee table, showcasing all the lighters we had in a geometric pattern (because we smoked, and that was cool). It was the cleanest the apartment had been in months, and we always got the compliment of hearing that it seemed “lived in” and “cozy.”
Dasha came over in the evening. She slept over, but I woke up to an empty bed. My room looked different, but I was still waking up and couldn’t exactly figure out why. I went downstairs to find Dasha finishing up “cleaning” the apartment. I asked what she was doing, she said cleaning up, and I told her I’d just done that. She laughed, as if my cleaning had been a joke, a meager attempt in my lazy state of “week off.” The coffee table was cleared, except for the pile of lighters on one corner. I thought back to my room and realized she’d already cleaned that too. While I slept.
Cleaned isn’t even the right word, because after she left, I had to find everything that had been moved to illogical places. Rearranged, that’s more fitting.
I told her to stop. It’s my fault that things got so instantly heated, but I felt oddly violated. I told her not to touch my shit, again asking what she was doing. She thought I was mean-joking, so she kept tidying up and I remember saying, “No, seriously, stop touching my shit.” I asked who she thought she was, and when she started saying, “I just thought-“ I cut her off, yelling, “Clearly you weren’t thinking, who does this? What are you doing? I don’t need you to clean up after me, I don't need you to nag me, I don't fucking need you at all.”
She went upstairs, gathered her stuff, and left without saying anything. Maybe she did, but I was too busy going on and on about how she hadn’t asked and had moved my whole apartment around. She left so quickly that she forgot a jacket I eventually gave to goodwill.
I’m not sure who should have texted first, but we never spoke again. She’s one of the few people from college that I still look up on Facebook. She seems happy. Happier than the last time I saw her. Most people do.
I think of the last time I saw anyone, then look at them online and see a completely different person. You’d never know about Teddy by what you see online, and you’d never know how good of company Dasha really could be. I knew her for less than a week and still find myself wondering what I’ve missed. It’s funny how some people leave you like that.
And it's funny how sometimes, they can show up in your life again. Dasha and I are in the same LSAT class now. We're going out to formally catch up tomorrow night.
Do I need her right now? No. But I'm intrigued to see the woman she's become, and I hope she feels the same about me.