For three or more months most of my conversations were based on what the other party thought I should be, and I am a very nice girl, so I did my best to believe what I was told and act accordingly. And when I was alone I did not exist. It would have hurt like hell to exist. Hence "wasted summer." I was living in a hotel for students, mostly international students, to whom I was kind, but not particularly friendly. I had little occasion to be so anyway, except in the kitchenette (I had no fridge and no cookware, so if it wasn't cafeteria food it was Nile soups or Korean bowl noodles or baked potatoes). There was one greasy-haired black-eyed white boy who used to hit on me in the dining center; he was so very smooth he would ask for my ID number over and over again and I just began to glare at him. Later he was busted for running a meth lab, in the hotel. The hotel was white and organized in three wings; from the air it would look like an injured swastika.

I had my own bathroom for the first and so far only time in my life. The shower was tiled bright blue, and I used to sit on the floor and let the water spray my face. It was also a perfect shower in which to sit and cry. There were twin beds on the opposite ends of what had been a three-person dormitory-style room. I had bought The Breeders' Last Splash in June just after I moved in, and many nights I put "Divine Hammer" on repeat play and bounced on one or the other of the beds. I was old enough, I told myself, that no one could tell me not to jump on the bed; but young enough that I didn't own the beds myself and couldn't give a shit about damaging the springs. One night I took a walk around town - ending up at the railroad tracks, where I tend to gravitate in any given town - and whispered to myself, "You are as free now as you ever have been or ever will be." I was 19 and had nowhere to be the following morning, so what I had to say to myself was true, yet I did not quite believe it.

One night a few weeks in the summer I was tripping on the morning-after pill, having lost it to a boss at my newspaper job. The next few days I walked around with a tense, bloody, aching cervix and a backpack full of nerves and fears. In the middle of the night I figured out I was a day late already (or roughly that: I am bad at keeping track of these things).

Early in the a.m. I tracked down B. At five a.m. it was of little consequence that this boy B would not have me. We shared more intimacy linking little fingers than M and I had with our bodies enmeshed. We sat up against one of the beds and he was quiet, mostly. It is one of the things everyone notices when they meet B and tell me yes, they have met B, but often they seem to mind, and I don't. When he gets very quiet I remember to be quiet too, and can hear myself think. I was on a ride the likes of which I hadn't experienced before, haven't since. Literally, alternately howling, giggling, crying, shouting and gripping my knees like a frightened child. There were good, clear moments, too, but I don't remember how any of it went.

I knew I was a day late and was terrified what the ride meant. I did not tell him any of that. I got up periodically to blow my nose. I don't remember what I said. I have diary entries that say it was wrong and flawed and I hated it. I couldn't think of anyone to blame, but I was waiting for M to talk to me, to admit it, which he never really did. B had been at work all night and once I was dry from crying he gave me a hug and got on his bike and rode home in the rising sun. After that, sometimes he'd come over and throw rocks at my window, or I'd see him on the street and we'd wrap each other in words and summer air like blankets. We got through a winter and I got through a week in his house with little conversation. But easily, B is still my favorite, he never falls off the charts for long.