Saturday, January 7, 2012

Murphy and Me XXXXIII

Halfway through orgo Monday it dawned on me there were two weeks left of classes in the semester. Ten days. That was it. Then three days of Reading Days - where, in some cases, freaking out about all the reading not done over the course of the semester is a requirement - and four days of finals. Then home. For a month. Half of us would be ready to be back by New Year's.

There was, however, a lot to do in ten days. Including a massive formal lab report that was going to eat my soul before Friday.

Good things to look forward to. Positively enlightening.

Oh. Shit. I was going to attempt to not procrastinate on my T-S Britain paper and actually start the damn thing before the night before it was due. An all-nighter did not need to happen. Mostly because my orgo exam was seven to ten that same night, and a decent amount of sleep beforehand was labeled as helpful.

Holy zone out, Ollie.

Then again, we were doing synthesis, which was not one of my favorites. Still, it was better on all accounts than physics.

There was no lab that afternoon - thank God - and I swung through the Pub to use the last of my snack money on a Starbucks peppermint mocha. The line was a bit long, but with no where else to be it was perfectly fine.

While fumbling for my mp3 player in my peacoat pocket, a group of Smithies came in behind me.

"So, do you guys know what Lori saw this weekend?"

Oh, Lord. Save me or strike me dead from whatever binge drinking glory story was sure to follow.

"What did she see?"

Would be great if the line could move a little faster. And how friggin' deep was this coat pocket?

"She saw Murphy with a girl."

Yup. This line needed to move. Now. Our campus wasn't big enough to have multiple men by the name of Murphy.

"Oh. Why do you think I care?"

There was a sigh and for the love of all that is holy where was my mp3 player?

Someone snorted. "Because ever since you found out about his new girlfriend you've been asking nonstop about her. And every time you see somebody and they say how happy he is with her you sulk." There was a pause. "And that she's pretty."

Found the mp3 player and promptly dropped it, the headphones my fingers tangled around the headphone cord. Fantastic. I picked it up, plugged it back together, and started digging for my Vera.

"Pretty could mean not pretty. They could have just been being nice."

Really? Just - Really? My cheeks flushed. The person ahead of me moved and I stepped up to the cashier. "Venti peppermint mocha with skim milk, please." Handed her my card. "Should use the last of my snack money."

The girls behind me were silent for a few moments. Until I had my Vera in my pocket and in the process of untangling my headphones.

"So, what's her name? If you know it."

Not necessary for me to hear. Head down, I went to the other end of the counter for what served as the pick-up area for drinks. The student making them was a bit backed up. The girls behind me showed up almost with me, and as I'm only human, only the right earbud was in.

"Ollie. Her name is Ollie."

"Tall vanilla latte with soy?" That voice was oddly familiar.

Tanya's head appeared around the side of the milk steamer. Her eyes widened briefly, looking between me and whichever Smithie was, presumably, Manda. I shrugged, not daring to say anything.

"Venti peppermint mocha, skim milk!" Tanya called, and I reached for it, snagging a lid with my other hand. "Hey, Ollie."

"Tanya. Good to see you." Death by stare, if I wanted to tempt fate and turn around.

"You, too." Her brown eyes darted between me and Manda. "Tell Murphy I said hi."

"Will do. Thanks." Taking a deep breath I turned and looked for the first time at Manda. It had to be her - none of the others had such a death stare goin' on. She was skinnier than me, preferred to pass spandex off as pants, and carried an oversize Vineyard Vines tote rather than a backpack. Really the only outward thing we had in common was our hair, and that led me to the conclusion that Murph had a thing for brunettes.

Peppermint mocha in hand, one earbud in, and with an audience, I really wanted nothing more than to say something incredibly snarky - probably about her spandex - and then walk away. She'd look scandalized, I'd be smug, and it would, for all of ten seconds, feel like a victory. That was the idea.

The reality was I looked at her, she looked at me, I tucked the other earbud in with a smile and walked away. Because my parents raised me to be the better person. With that firmly in mind it was fairly easy to let the rest go.

Not to mention, from the sound of it, Manda wasn't completely over the break up. The particular aspect of dating is hard in a small school and not easy to deal with in general. God knows I'd be a walking train wreck whe - if, go with the if - we ever broke up. A much bigger train wreck than Bobby could ever hope to cause as I really, most likely lo - really really like Murph.

Yeah. Definitely in deep shit.

It was snowing. Big, fat flakes miraculously clinging to the still-green grass and sidewalks. Even the upper stairs from the Pub to the space between Coxe and Gulick were covered. Not a light snow, either, a full on no-other-goal-but-to-make-life-miserable kind of snowfall.

My peppermint mocha was too hot to do anything but sip at on the way back to Jackson. If this kept up - and stuck - I was going to need to dig out my Timberlands, as my Chuck Taylor's wouldn't cut it with the powdery stuff.

Having nothing else to do the for rest of the day presented a bit of a problem - what, exactly, to do to fill the time? As always there was the looming pile of physics reading or the slightly larger pile of back work - an entire book, by this point - for T-S Britain. Could always work on the monstrosity of a formal lab report. There were also lines to be memorized for acting, namely our monologues for the final, from The Laramie Project.

And, as always, there was the idea to say screw it and nap. Naps were glorious.

The steps by the College Store were nothing but treacherous and it was by pure luck I didn't find myself on my ass.

Dev and Murph were going out as I was heading in.

"Hey." He gave me a one-armed hug and a kiss on the forehead. "Oh, Colby might ask you for some of the girls' last names."

That was appropriately cryptic. "Okay."

"Colby's got something up his sleeve," Dev said, stifling a yawn.

"What time did you get back?" When Murph and I had returned from dinner Sunday, Devan still hadn't gotten back from Maine. Murph, at the time, had had no clue as to the geographic location of his roommate. Neither, ironically, had Dev himself.

"Six this morning." Dev shrugged. "Figured if I went to sleep I wouldn't wake up for class."

Having nearly once been a victim of that, sometimes it was better to stay up and mainline coffee than attempt to sleep for a couple hours.

"Yeah. When I woke up my roommate was magically back and swearing at his computer." Murph grinned. "But, we gotta go." He gave me another forehead kiss.

A rather disheveled Smithie came through the doors next before I had my Vera out and nearly whacked me in the face. It was a difficult catch with only one hand and this was one instance when spending summers waitressing was a good thing for more than a steady paycheck.

The walk to the fourth floor seemed longer than normal. My Starbucks had to be set on the little round table Jo and I did homework at for me to have a free hand to get my shoes to the side of the door and not face-plant. Then to find the Vera, then the room key, and -


Balanced on the door handle was a rectangular-shaped package wrapped in newspaper, complete with a red bow.

A birthday present.

With a note on my white board that read:

It's late but you already knew that. Happy Birthday.
-Love Murph

I unlocked the door, ferried in both the present and my Starbucks, and went about getting comfortable. It was slightly warmer than normal - not by much - and once the light was on, the door shut, and I had on the first sweatshirt available, the Starbucks sat on the dresser with me at the end of the bed, newspaper package next to my thigh.

The bow wound up stuck to the dresser. Bearing in mind it was newspaper and not specifically wrapping paper - a copy of The New York Times by the look of it - I was a little less careful than otherwise.

He'd gotten me a movie. He'd gotten me my own copy of Moulin Rouge. There was a sticky note on the front with another message.

Present also includes dinner and viewing of movie. How does next Sat. work?

Works for me, Murph. Works for me.

I passed the rest of the afternoon reading my month's worth of back chapters for T-S Britain. The snow continued to fall, and the wind started up at some point from the north. It was turning downright nasty out there and shortly after four I propped open the door to get some heat from the hallway.

Ordering in Chinese was beginning to look very appealing. Rather than walking all the way to Saga in this shit passing for weather, at any rate.

Jo popped her head in around quarter past five. "Dinner? And did you see you have a message from Murphy?"

"Yeah. It went with my birthday present." My copy of The Reformation looked like El had taken a blue marker to its pages, but highlighting was the only real way for me to retain information when reading, especially something so thick as history. I flopped it carelessly to the side and pulled the neck of my sweatshirt - Murph's by the smell and the size - up to my nose.

"Moulin Rouge and dinner," she said, putting the DVD back in the moon chair. "Very cool. Dinner?"

"I thought about ordering from Main Moon?" Lowered the sweatshirt. "I don't wanna go back out in this."

Jo looked at the window - the shade was almost always up for Henry to get natural sunlight - and the tree branches on the other side of the glass whipped back and forth. "I told Maria I'd meet her for dinner." She shuddered. "Better bundle up."

"Yeah." There was no way in hell I was leaving the building tonight. "I'm probably gonna order in. Have fun with Maria."

Jo wandered back across the hall and I let my head thunk against the wall. A hundred and fifty pages later and no so much as a dent in the workload. Talk about Karma for a lifelong procrastinator. Damn it. There was only so much British history I could handle.

A break would probably be for the best. Not to mention my email hadn't been opened all day and was probably full. No surprise that between Facebook notifications, general HWS spam, and suggestions on where to study for finals, there were about forty new messages. One of them was from Colby.

Need Some Help
November 30, 2009 11:30 AM

I'm planning on having everybody for dinner Friday (the last day of classes) but don't know everybody's last name. Like the girls who were at movie night that one night. And there are no Sasha's at all in the directory. Help?


'Course there were no Sashas because Sasha's actual first name was Alexandra. Sasha was a nickname.

I hit reply.

Josephine Cornish
Alexandra Meyer-Roberts (Sasha)
Cara Freislow
Better put me in the CC so they don't just delete it.


That should be fun, all of us for dinner.

Facebook was after email and there was nothing new there. The picture of Murph and I at Halloween was still my profile picture.

Pretty could mean not pretty. They could have just been being nice.

Clicked the picture to enlarge it. Murph - broad-shouldered, hazel eyes, beautiful, slightly crooked smile - and me. In a four-year-old pirate costume that wasn't as loose in the bodice as it used to be. Which made sense, considering my high school sophomore self was skinnier than my college sophomore self. But by how much? Was it noticeable? Had I gotten fatter since soccer season ended? We had until February as a break, but was there a need for me to get back on the treadmill sooner?

There are parts of me I'd rather get rid of. My love handles. That bit of my back just above my rear end but before the rip at the end of the my spine. The way my middle back skin rolls when I move just right. Those were parts of me I wasn't particularly fond of. And my thighs? Larger than normal, definitely. A life spent playing soccer year-round.

Twenty years old and now wondering how pretty I was. Which, of course, leads naturally to Murphy and what he thinks and the idea of possibly having, at some point, sex with Murphy, which leads to giving up my virginity, which then leads to if I'm not good with seeing myself naked, how am I supposed to let somebody else? Somebody being Murphy. My boyfriend.

What it all boiled down to was the fact that until I got over the fear of my own body, Murph and I wouldn't so much as start for whatever level was next

Of course it wasn't Manda's appearance that brought on that happy revelation, it had just brought it front and center at the moment. When there was enough academic stress already to choke an elephant.

Jeezus. What. A. Mess.

On the other hand - as there was always another hand somewhere - Murph chose me. He could have walked away at any point but he didn't. He wanted me as his girlfriend, free and clear. Not a replacement for Manda.

Just like he's no replacement for Bobby. Murph never could be, either. They were too different. It was comparing apples to oranges with the only common factor between them being the fruit market they were bought at.


I turned in the chair. Murph was looking at me with an expression that clearly said he'd been trying to get my attention for a while. It was rather adorable, really.

"Ollie?" he repeated.

Oh. Right. "Yeah. Sorry. I think I just compared myself to a fruit market."

If he found that little tidbit of insight weird it didn't show. He shrugged instead, and said, "You'd make a pretty fruit market."

Good to know we're on the same page, whatever book it might be in.

"Sorry." I closed the laptop and went to give him a hug. "Thank you for the birthday present."

"You like it?" He grinned.

"Very much. And dinner and a movie next Saturday sounds great." The first of three Reading Days. Perfect for taking it easy before freaking out about papers and exams. "I'm gonna order Chinese for dinner, you want an egg roll?"

"Sure." He settled on the end of the bed. "How was your afternoon with the Brits?"

I dug by the side of the mattress for my phone. "Bloody brilliant." Took a few minutes to pace on the green indoor-outdoor carpet while ordering dinner, glancing occasionally at Murph. Anywhere from forty minutes to an hour. I snapped the phone shut.

"Ollie?" Murph toed his shoes off in front of the mini-fridge, the thump lost in the burst of noise echoing down the hall from the other door. For something to do - and since this was a conversation nobody else needed to hear - I kicked the door stop under the pirated TV table and waited for it to close.

"What's wrong, Ol?" Murph piled my T-S literature and notebook and dropped them onto a pile of dirty laundry. He turned to face me when I sat in the middle of the bed, swiveling his whole body with a suppressed wince.

How the hell to start this conversation?

"I met Manda today." Apparently by blurting out information like it burns.

Murph blinked. "Where?"

"At the Pub. Oh, and Tanya says hi." Maybe this would be easier than originally anticipated.

"Was she nice to you?" There was a tone in Murph's voice I hadn't heard before. Like he was trying to keep his temper in check.

"For the most part." It was true - she hadn't come right out and said anything to me, just about me. There was a distinct difference. And nothing bad, either.

Murph gave me a stink-eye worthy of El.

"Really." Which got him one in return. "She's not over you, that much is obvious."

"Not surprising," he muttered. He looked at me fully. "I broke up with her."

There wasn't anything to say that wouldn't sound both cheesy and cliche. Murph didn't need me to say anything other than, "You make me happy." Today, tomorrow, for as long as he was content with me, he made me happy.

Murph, in a feat of contortion, curled on his side between me and the dresser, his head on my thigh. My bigger than average thigh. Damn it.

"I did nothing but sleep all weekend. Why am I still tired?"

"Because it's only been a week." I rubbed the back of his neck. "It takes longer to not feel wiped out."

"It sucks."

"Yeah. I know." There was a lull. "You have a lot to do these last two weeks?"

"Start final papers." Murph relaxed further. "I only have one sit-down final the second day." He rolled to his back to look up at me. "What about you?"

"Last slot on the last day." Which meant going home Saturday morning instead of Friday night. "Physics." My hand migrated to his chest. "It's great."

He snorted. "Okay." His hand came up to hold mine. "Can I hang out here for a while? Dev's passed out on his laptop in the middle of econ spreadsheets."

"Of course. Might need to do some reading but yeah. You can pop in a movie or watch TV if you want to."

"When you get up to get delivery. Then I'll movie."

The warmth of his chest seeped through his layers into my palm. Part of being happy was being comfortable. I was comfortable with Murphy. It was being comfortable with myself that needed some improvement.

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"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz