Not a member? Sign up now
2002 had been a tough year for me — I was a sophomore in college, holed up in a bare room, too overworked to do anything about my loneliness. People invited me out, but I always had a looming paper or test that kept me from going. (I still look at most pop-culture depictions of college life with total bafflement, but maybe I'm the only one.) I never relaxed; I only procrastinated. And I missed my high-school friends, a tight group that'd been unceremoniously scattered across the country/globe.
Back home on winter break, the New Year's decision was high-pressure as usual. Finally, a few high-school friends and I decided to drive a few hours north to a cabin in Vermont where another old classmate was having a party. This was before we all got cell phones — and we wouldn't have had reception anyway — so getting there was a challenge; it was pitch black and freezing out, and we were in the middle of nowhere. At one point we stopped at a remote gas station to ask where the hell we were.
We eventually found the house, and the travails of getting there made the arrival all the happier — I remember the warm glow of the fireplace inside the house and all our friends shouting with glee that we'd actually made it. It'd taken us a while to get there, so everyone was way ahead of us on the drinking. (I remember my friend Jeff obliviously trying to open a bottle of beer with a garlic press, before stumbling outside to puke. To be young again!)
The funny thing was, it was mostly my high-school friends, but there were actually some kids there who went to the same college I did. They turned out to be friends (and friends of friends) of our beloved host. Having spent all my time either writing papers or worrying about writing papers, I'd never met them. But one of them, Kathryn, turned out to be very cute.
As the night wound down, a small group of us stayed up chatting and playing a little guitar as others slowly headed off to sleep and the fire died down, the house growing worryingly chilly. When the rest had all gone to bed, Kathryn and I ended up lying on the stone floor in front of the not-very-helpful fire, freezing cold with only floppy couch pillows under our heads.
It was dark, and I didn't know what she thought of me or even if she was awake — until she turned over and looked at me, and with a tone of playfulness and amazement, murmured, "2003," before gently curling herself into my arms.
Submit to our next round-up: Songs That Remind Me Of My Ex. What's the song that puts a far-away look in your eyes whenever it comes on? Send 100 words about the song and what it makes you think of to email@example.com, or click for more details.