The Crew: A Millennial Confession
I pull the collar of my blue polo up out of my Tegan and Sara t shirt as I bound off of the bus. Dave and I are the only seniors who still have to take it, we’re scholarship kids, and the only twins in our grade. The collar has to be showing or I’ll be written up, like yesterday, I wore cords on a chapel day. At Pinegrove that’s the equivalent of a crime against society, they’re of the belief that enforcing obscure, meaningless rules some how makes the school that much better. I’m not good at following rules, most of the time they slip my mind and the rest of the time I just don’t give a shit. Only two more months and I’ll finally be out of this hell-hole. Dave looks back and waits for me to walk towards Lane Hall.
“Courtney has yet another paper in the window,” he says as we pass the office to get to our lockers. It’s kind of like a walk of shame, every morning. Whenever someone is accepted to a college, their name and the university’s is printed onto a piece of paper and taped outside the office for all to see. Pinegrove believes in “healthy” competition.
Dave applied to a few schools in New York City. NYU responded last week, but he didn’t get a scholarship, so he’s holding out for Fordham. I’m taking a gap year or at least that’s what I’m calling it. I’d much rather work at a coffee shop and read and write whatever the hell I want, than run after some ivory, white tower, which will eventually make me too educated to be happy with the dead end job and endless debt I’ll get in return.
“Yea you’ll be up there any day now,” I say, I can feel that he’s nervous, not that it’s a special twin skill, he’s just so obvious about it.
Luke runs up behind us and punches Dave in the shoulder.
“How does it feel that she is better at absolutely everything?” he questions.
“Michelle isn’t good at anything,” he shoots backs.
“Hey I’m great at a lot of things,” I reply.
“Like…” Lana jumps into the conversation.
“Poetry,” I say defiantly.
“If you mean clichés then yes,” she says with a smirk.
“You’re not even part of the paper. Are you sure you actually want to be a writer?” Luke asks. He wraps his arms over her shoulder and hangs off of her like a goof.
The bell rings and I slam my locker without answering her. It’s confusing, she teases, but I don’t think she likes me. Well, you know like that.
I am a walking cliché though, she was right. Although I haven’t kissed a girl, I’m pretty sure I’m gay. Thursdays aren’t complete without watching My Drunk Kitchen. Anyway I mean I’ve kissed boys, but I just didn’t like it. I also can’t stop thinking about Lana.
“Are you coming?” questions Dave, we’re the only ones still standing in the hall.
“Yea sorry, got lost in my thoughts,” I say.
“I know, its been happening a lot lately,” he replies.
“Yea well a lot’s going on,” I say.
“You can talk to me you know ,” he raises his eyebrows and gives me the look
“I will. Eventually, just sorting stuff out,” I say as I walk towards him.
I haven’t told him what’s been going on in my mind. I’m still not alright with it, so how could he be. I follow him down the hall and slip into homeroom. The morning announcements are playing on the television, but no one is paying attention. We walk to the back of the room and sit next Lana and Luke. She’s wearing a Death Cab for Cutie t shirt over her orange polo.
Courtney walks in and sits on the other side of the room. She shoots a glance at us, but doesn’t come over. Its been weird since Dave and her broke up. It happened back in January, but her new boyfriend doesn’t like it when she hangs out with us.
“She’s such a dick monkey,” I say as I turn back to Lana.
“A what?” she questions.
“A dick monkey, you know she swings from dick to dick,” I say. Everyone starts laughing and she throws a look over at us. Mrs. Thompson walks into the room and the conversation dies down. The bell rings and we shuffle out. I have to get across campus within the next five minutes, but I’m really not feeling class to day. Lana walks past me and I grab her arm.
“Let’s ditch and go to the willow tree,” I whisper.
“Sure,” she says smiling. I can see the pack of cigarettes bulging in her back pocket.
Pine grove has a huge campus, kind of like a small college. It takes about ten minutes to walk anywhere, but its pretty isolated. In fact it was the last plot of land that William Penn sold. I learned that in history last week. We sprint from Lane Hall until we get to the tree line at the edge of campus. Dave and Luke run after us and my heart sinks a little bit when I realize, we won’t be hanging out by ourselves. I’ve wanted to talk to her for a few weeks.
“Wait up!” Dave calls. We stop just within the trees and wait for them. Lana reaches into her pocket and produces the pack of vanilla cloves. She hands each of us one. I walk with it unlit, dangling from my mouth until we reach the willow tree. Its bark is littered with lover’s carvings. It’s been around for a long time and is legendary on campus. If a couple ends up down here their names or initials end up on the tree. Luke climbs onto a branch and lights his clove.
“Only three more weeks,” he says as he puffs out a smoke ring.
“It’s gone so fast,” I say.
“Right! I’m going to miss you guys,” says Dave.
“We’re all going to be in New York though, right?” questions Lana as she takes a drag.
“That’s yet to be seen,” says Dave as he produces a small baggy of weed.
“Stop, you know you’re going to get into Fordham,” I say as I lean against the tree.
“But with a scholarship? I thought NYU was a done deal,” he says as he rolls the joint between his fingers. He passes it up to Luke to light.
“Worst case you can be a gypsy with Michelle,” says Lana as she sits crossed legged under the tree.
“Bohemian,” I shoot back.
“So hipster,” snorts Luke. Every one starts laughing and I feel my face fill in with heat. I know I’m blushing, which only makes them laugh harder.
“Oh fuck you guys. We’re all smoking cloves, I think we’re all one at this point,” I respond.
“Everyone is a little bit hipster,” Lana says.
“Avenue Q reference?” questions Dave. The conversation is quickly devolving as the joint makes a full circle.
“Maybe. But seriously, the word doesn’t mean anything anymore. If anything I think you’re brave by not buying into the whole college idea,” says Lana as she takes a long drag from the joint and then returns her clove to her mouth.
“At least not yet,” I say, I’m smiling.
The next week passes in a blur and Dave has basically given up that he’ll ever hear from Fordham. Its painful, watching him walk out to the mailbox every day after school, and returning with only the magazines that Mom loves so much. It’s Friday and I know its going to be a long bitter weekend if Dave doesn’t get an answer today. We hop off of the bus in front of our small Cape Cod house.
“Do you want me to walk with you?” I ask as the bus pulls away and disappears down the road, behind fields of corn.
“Kind of,” he says as he kicks at a stone near his feet. I jog across the road ahead of him and open up the mailbox. Inside there is a large white envelope. He got in.
“Dave!” Dave!” Its here!” I yell as I run back to him and shove the package into his hands.
“Its heavy,” he says as a grin takes over his face.
“Mom and Dad aren’t home yet. Should we wait?” I ask.
“No, I can’t wait any longer,” he says as he drops his heavy book bag to the ground and tears at the paper envelope. He pulls out a folder that has a huge ram and Fordham University printed on it. Flipping it open, he quickly scans the acceptance letter.
“So?” I question. I’m scared that there’s no scholarship.
“Oh my god. Holy Fuck! I have a full ride!” he yells and punches the air.
“Shit Dave! You’re getting out of here,” I yell as I pull him into a hug. We don’t usually touch each other, but I’m so excited I can’t help but show it. After a second we remember ourselves and back away. He pulls his phone from his pocket and quickly types out a message to the crew. He even included me in thread, within a second my phone buzzes with the message.
“We have to celebrate tonight,” I say as we walk down our gravel drive way and into the house.
Thumper leaps off of the kitchen counter and greets us at the door, she’s a strange cat. I kneel down and rub her black back for a few moments before standing up and opening the fridge. I grab two beers and hand one to Dave. He pops his open with a lighter and then does the same to mine. I clink my bottle against his.
“To New York,” I say.
“Next year is going to be a shit show,” he announces before taking a swig of his beer.
“So tonight, we should go to the path,” I say as I place my beer on the counter and pull out my phone. I type out a message to see if every one is up for chilling.
“Yea, get some lokos and chill,” he takes another swig. “Luke probably still has some weed too,” he adds.
“Sounds great!” I say as my phone buzzes in my pocket. It’s Lana.
So we’re all going to be NYC. This is going to be awesome! I smile as I realize she didn’t send the message to the thread, just to me.
Yea I haven’t decided which borough I’ll be in yet,” I shoot back.
Brooklyn? She answers
Probably I say.
I slip the phone back into my pocket, grab my book bag, and head upstairs to my room. Dave follows behind with the acceptance letter held tightly in his fist. I toss my bag on the floor of my room and cross the hall to his. I still think of it as my room, we shared for the first twelve years of childhood. I’m still not used to sleeping alone, not having anyone to talk to until I pass out. I sit down on his bed and sip my beer. He plugs his ipod into his speakers and puts the Mountain Goats on.
“So what’s the plan?” I question after a few minutes.
“Luke said he’d swing by in an hour and get us. Lana is coming too. He’s stopping by the Root Club and picking up some lokos for us,” says Dave as he taps out the beat of the song on his desk.
The crunch of gravel drifts in through the window. After a moment a car door slams and Dave and I lock eyes.
“Shit,” I say as I look at my half empty beer.
“Bottoms up,” says Dave as he chugs his down and I follow his lead. We ditch the bottles in the crack between the eves in his cubby hole at the corner of his room. If my parents ever renovated the house, I’m sure they find at least a hundred empty packs of cigarettes and empty beer bottles down there. Within a minute the kitchen door slams shut down stairs.
“Anyone home,” my mom calls out.
“We’re up here,” I yell back. I push myself off of the bed and head downstairs, Dave trails behind.
My mom is already fiddling with the coffee maker and filling it with water. Its her ritual everyday after work. My dad should be home any minute. He’s a professor at the local college and is always home by five every night.
“You two look suspicious, what have you been doing?” questions my mom without even turning to look at us.
“I got in,” says Dave.
“Fordham,” she asks as she turns away from making coffee.
“Full ride,” I blurt out.
“Honey!” she pulls him into a huge hug and he squirms to be let go.
“We’re all going out to celebrate tonight if that’s alright,” he says finally.
The coffee is trickling out into the pot and the smell is quickly enveloping the room. Maybe that’s why my dream is to work in a coffee shop, I’m practically a junkie. My dad walks through the door and straight to the pot. He pours himself a cup before he acknowledges any of us.
“I got in,” says Dave once more. My dad smiles and slaps him on the back.
“I told you,” he replies and takes a sip. For the briefest of moments I feel a pain of jealousy. I know I made the decision not to apply to college, but I feel like Dave has one upped me, at least for now.