Summer with the open windows: 7. The end

VII. The End

I drank too much at the department event at the end of summer. Call it my naivete to the toxicity of mixed drinks.

I tried to excuse myself from the bevy of new students when I noticed I could no longer speak coherently about my research and had started to feel ill. It was after midnight and I wanted to save some dignity.

But it wouldn’t happen. Two eager first-years followed me. “Are you ok?” they asked. Can they call me a cab? Can they walk me home?

No, no no. It’s ok.

We traversed the Square in rigid formation. I led the procession, front and center; the two flanked me on either side and trailed slightly behind. Tentatively, one student tried to continue the conversation about physics, pretending like this was nothing unusual. Wearily, I answered, doing the same.

Finally I sat down in a chair in the Yard. Thank you, but, please leave me, I’m just going back to lab, I tried again. All I wanted to do was vomit. But I couldn’t do it here, I couldn’t walk any more, and I couldn’t shake them. “Don’t throw up in front of the first-years” became my singular mission. I stared at my feet for I don’t know how long. Behind me, my two guardians chatted to each other about their research interests.

It felt like a long time. It felt like an hour.

And then I’m drunk-biking home, veering into mailboxes and trash cans. The night was beyond salvaging. I got to my driveway before being overcome by vertigo and just laid down.

I remember in the dark strip of exposed sky between my rooftop and the next I could see a single star. Summer with the open windows in an old-new place. It was over and I felt lonelier than ever.

When I woke up, still on my back in the driveway, feeling nauseous and terrible, I found my cat nestled into my armpit, with her head on my chest, apparently asleep.

play I think this series is finished for now.


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