Made it Down the Coast in Seventeen Hours

It’s eight thirty p.m. and I have just boarded the BOLT bus at Boston’s South Station. It is pouring down rain and my blue cotton sundress has been so thoroughly soaked through that I’ve been forced to buy a t-shirt from the clothing vending machine in the train station (something which I have secretly wanted to do since I first spotted it that morning!). I text Nick and Sam, “confession: I just bought vending machine clothes!!” and, after mocking me sufficiently, Nick writes me back, “if you are now on the bus, you should be reading Proust for the next four hours.” I have been awake for fifteen hours at this point; my eyes are squinty and my legs are sore. I want nothing more than to eat my avocado cobb salad, curl up on the leather bus seat, and sleep for the entire ride back to Manhattan. “I don’t wannnna” I reply, taking on the voice of a whiney child as I try to avoid my obligations. “Don’t care.” he writes back. “you have to,” and, realizing my friends are evidently as invested in this project as I, (at times, perhaps more so!), I take my now dog-eared and well-worn copy of Swann’s Wayout of my tote bag, and dive back in.

I spent yesterday in Boston, visiting Kelsey, who just moved there, and Kylie, who was in for the day on a break from the summer camp at which she has been working in Central Mass. I took a 7:30 am bus there, got in at noon, spent the most lovely afternoon walking through Beacon Hill and down the Esplanade with Kelsey, and then met Ky in Cambridge, where we had noodles at Wagamama in Harvard Square (mine were so spicy that I fanned myself feverishly for a good five minutes and the girls laughed at my pain and videotaped it!), walked through the University campus, and finally settled in a coffee shop when the torrential downpour began. By the time I got home at 1 am, exhausted, elated, and still rather damp, I wanted nothing more than to sleep for a hundred years.

Things with Swann have taken a rather foreboding turn, his love for Odette towing the line between possessive affection and jealous stalking, and I see some sort of stormy end in sight. Today has dawned rather grey and humid and, with my body still feeling rather as if it has been hit by a train and the boys gone home for the weekend, I should really sequester myself in some lovely café and plow steadily through the rest of the volume. Whether my more manic urges to see and do everything take over instead has yet to be seen!

Back in the real world, it has officially been one month now since I moved to New York, and the happy surreality of it all has yet to wear off. On Tuesday night, I threw a going-away party for Emily, my best friend from home, who is moving to Germany in three days to live in Alsace for the next year. The boys and I made pesto pasta and prosciutto-wrapped melon and the strongest sangria any of us have ever drank (for those of you brave enough to try, the recipe comes from a Spanish Restaurant in Baltimore called Tio Pepe, and singlehandedly took down all of the guests at my mother’s fiftieth birthday!). It was a night to remember, and when we had consumed all of the brandied fruit juice, eaten a dozen sugar-spun cupcakes, and toasted Em goodbye, I had to fight hard to maintain my composure.

I have never been good at goodbyes, as anyone who had to live through my departure for France can tell you, and this week especially has been filled with the bittersweet realization that I both have the most wonderful friends in the entire world, and will never again be in the same place as all of them, at the same time. I suppose this seems a trite realization of growing up, one I should have made long ago. But as the dog days of summer wear on, Swann descends into the social hell of rejection from the Verdurins and subsequent distance from Odette, and I become more and more aware of how very lucky I am to be surrounded by the people I love. Friends help define you, they hold you up in moments when you cannot do so yourself, they chide you to read Proust and not buy your clothes from a vending machine. Swann learns too late the dire necessity of holding fast to his friends; but I would never make the same mistake. Despite the advancing years and miles that stretch between us, there will always be those drives down I-95, and those midnight moments of wine-soaked clarity when it seems nothing, not even time, can wrench us apart.


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