Cast of Characters (Chance, 1.3)


There’s a saying that every seven years, you become a new person.

It’s reflected in the scientific truth that apparently every seven years, all the cells in your body are replaced with new ones, making you literally a new person.

It’s also true in a human development sense. I don’t remember where I read this or all the details, but the gist is that as a human you go through phases that are seven years long, bookended by drastic neurological growth and / or transformative events in your life.

That’s my only explanation for what happened to me that summer and fall of 2008 at 21, when my social life inexplicably blew up.

That summer I had flings and flirtations with the following boys:

Alex, The First Love Ex. I was sleeping over at his house several nights a week. We were having dinner, camping in his backyard, taking trips to the beach, to the city, to the mountains, etc. etc. (We were not together.)

Holden, The Toxic Ex. I was trying and failing most of that summer to keep him at arm’s length, but we were in touch online. he visited me once on the condition that we wouldn’t have sex, but We Did Anyway. we were both in our college town at the same time, and had an awkward walk and talk before I drove by him as he kissed another girl.

Lije, a friend of B’s. we cooked dinner, took walks, went to the beach, watched half a movie, and got to third base on two nights, before I fled his house and vanished from his life forever.

Gene, Vlad and Dima, also friends of B’s. Gene was picking me up and swinging me around and in general competing to take me home on that night I went with Lije (and then abandoned him). Vlad and Dima were also competing but in a less hard-charging way, mostly jostling for my attention and for positions where they could put their arms around me.

Jeremy, my childhood friend from the Days of the Fort Down the Hill from the Playground. At a party at his house one night he took me by surprise and kissed me, although he had a fiancee.

Besides boys, I had met my first female soulmate, Ali, in June. Ali, if you didn’t read the posts about her or don’t remember, was that beautiful, pixie-like girl with the throaty voice who was always laughing at a joke no one got, who had kissed Holden and then become my best friend.

We moved in together that fall with Kayla (another girl who had both kissed Holden and become a close friend, although in reverse order, in case you’ve forgotten). Nearly every night that September, the three of us were together, cooking dinner, watching movies, buying groceries at the Chopper and curtains at Target, drinking wine.

Kayla soon went MIA, staying over at her Motorcycle Man’s place every night, but autumn winds soon blew in a whole new dizzying swirl of people:

I started spending more time with Sam, a gay Latino guy who’d been in my Spanish class, whose favorite activities were dancing with much hip-swinging, singing as loud as he could, judging people, getting offended and laughing hysterically.

Sam introduced me to his best friend Samantha, a Long Island girl with long, frizzy hair dyed copper-red who managed to be both extremely worldly and oddly childlike. One night I was lying on the grass outside the English department building, looking up at the stars; she happened to walk by, and lay down next to me without question or comment.

The three of us became inseparable, going downtown and dancing, going for drives in Sam’s car with the radio turned up so loud the whole car shook, drinking rum in Samantha’s dorm.

Sometimes we were joined by Ali’s friend George, a homeless musician who had asked to “be my wolfie” that summer and still held a torch for me.

A few times we were joined by Samantha’s friend Marv, who was a writer like me (theoretically; I hadn’t written a word in years).  Marv had been a London freshman with Samantha, and had suffered a schizophrenic episode where he thought he was Jesus. Samantha stayed with him and took care of him until his mom flew in.

Marv was a chain-smoker; he would leave our marathon hours-long conversations every half hour or so to go outside for a cigarette. This gave him the constant smell of smoke, as well as taste, as I found out one drunken night in my room when Marv started pushing me and Samantha down on the bed in turn and shoving his tongue down our throats. We kept telling him to stop but he didn’t seem to understand and kept laughing.

Later that night, as we all ran around the park and climbed trees, Marv kept coming up behind me and wrapping his hands around my neck, or sliding them down the front of my shirt. In the morning, he was trying to get me alone in my apartment and wouldn’t leave. We had to physically kick him out.

We stopped hanging out with Marv after that.

There were a lot of new things that fall. I was living in my first apartment. I was interning for a daily newspaper. I’d cut my hair short and streaked it red earlier that summer. I was single for the first time in five years.

But as always, it was people who created the biggest shifts in my life. Sam and Samantha, by creating this constant, easy friend group I’d never had before. Ali, who was opening my mind and heart to the magic in the world.

And then there was the last person we met that fall, before Chance, the person who would destroy our friend group forever and usher me into the next phase of my life.



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