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  • Going to Church hungover

     

     

     

    Saturday night, freshman year of college, most of those nights I spent in my room reading a dime store fantasy novel. However, one Saturday, I was through being the one who handled my drunken roommate or her high friend coming in…especially not being invited to do any of those things. I was the “mother” of the group. Or the sweet one. Whichever suited them that week. But that Saturday at University of Richmond, I was going to prove that I wasn’t just another stick in the mud. I was a college freshman too, I wanted those experiences of getting drunk till I was dizzy and dancing and singing louder than I should.

    That Saturday my friend Barbara brought her friend in from Northern Virginia.  She seemed nice enough, but she was my ticket to becoming a grown woman to the rest of my friends. She even knew that we were going to drink till we keeled over.We drove using my friend’s car who was an atheist, not the kind that would bash your brains in for being the good little Catholic girl your mother raised you to be. No, she would make fun of everyone, including herself, not withholding family. Anyway, I wanted to prove to her and my roommate that I was more than just the goody-two-shoes Catholic girl. I wasn’t just there to take care. I was there to have fun.

    We started at a frat house. Caitlin, my roommate, walked in knowing half of the people there. Half the time she was with her friend Diamond who went to University of Richmond. It was easy to tell that Caitlin had been here before. I trailed behind with Barbara’s friend, Lindsay. And boy did Barbara attract attention. She was both beautiful and loud.  Lindsay didn’t want to get to frisky when drunk, though she’d never been drunk before either.  She made Barbara and I promise to make sure that she didn’t cheat on her boyfriend. Barbara wanted to make sure she didn’t keep this promise.  While Barbara and her friend went in to get their shots, I got a PBR, better known as a Pabst Blue Ribbon, a beer to the uninitiated. It was like I was a hipster before I knew the word.

    Anyway, we talked with the different frat boys who were kind enough. We went into a living room that was lit with neon lights and had strobes and a mini DJ of sorts. Not too bad. I hated the taste of that beer. And sipping it made it worse.

    God, it was terrible. It was worse than the stuff my dad let me taste, his Budweiser. But here I was chugging Natty’s and PBR like it was water. Only to make sure the taste went away faster.

    Seven beers in less than two hours later, I was exuberant. I smiled at any and everyone who looked at me. But I also made sure to keep my distance, arm’s length. I stuck to Caitlin as much as possible. She was our designated driver after all, but I also wanted to make sure she was having a good time too.

    We agreed that this frat party was good, but it was time to go. They were hospitable enough, but we were off to grittier and more mysterious frat houses. And, oh dear lord, had I made a friend that night with Barbara’s friend? We hung all over each other and sang. She was so heavy for such a skinny girl. I was told later she had five shots of some liquor I probably can’t pronounce. We attempted to walk up a hill and fell on our asses laughing.

    “I love you, May. I mean, I don’t really know you, but you’ve been so nice to me and I love you.”

    “I love you too, Lindsay, you know, you’ve been a really good person to hang with.” I laughed. “We’re literally hanging on each other right now.” I smiled, eyes closed, no words came out, no laugh came out. Just that silent smile.

    My arms felt like jello and lead all at the same time. My forehead spun and felt fuzzy and warm. So did the inside of my mouth and throat. It didn’t hurt, it felt like a warm massage.

    I grabbed Caitlin by the neck as we walked, well, she walked. I sauntered and skipped. And realized what I did, so I stood up straighter as though I’d walked down the aisle at church.

    “Caitlin. Caitlin, I want to tell you something.”

    “Okay, May, go ahead.” She laughed.

    “Caitlin, thank you so much. Thank you so much for walking with me. Thank you so much for being the designated driver and my roommate. I think I’m the luckiest girl at V.C.U. for having a roommate like you. You know that?”

    “Awe, thank you, May. You know I’d do this for you.”

    And there it was, even in my drunken state I was still sweet.  I hadn’t advanced; I was just a drunken version of what everyone else thought I already was. They still probably thought I was innocent too.

    We walked in the next frat townhouse. Three more beers.

    We danced to Kei$ha and I felt like I understood Tik Tok on a completely new level. It made more sense when you were drunk. The beat did, at least. It felt like it melded with the mood and groove. Boys tried to groove with Lindsay. Actually, one boy kept trying to grind on her. We agreed before we went to the party that if one girl was uncomfortable with a boy, she’d give a nod and pat her nose as she danced. Lindsay made this motion, which meant we had to rotate counter-clockwise. I was to her left. I had to take her place.

    I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to sub in to protect her. I was afraid he was going to grind up on me. I shook my head. Barbara nodded her head to my right, stared me down, and flared her nose. I winced and we moved the circle. The boy stopped dancing and walked toward the kitchen. I sighed in relief.

    The living room full of people dwindled like before and we left the house. I don’t remember how we got back to the first frat house. I’m not sure if we went to any other frat houses later that night either.

    The next thing I remember was lying on the ground in front of a weird bathroom area. I stared at a moving red Solo cup. It moved clockwise, then counter clockwise. I sat up and realized I talked to Lindsay for what felt like ages…and my roommate promised to get me water and she’d be back soon.

    I later found out that Caitlin went to drop Diamond off at her room and she took thirty minutes because Diamond was drunk too. Barbara was down stairs, Caitlin told me later.

    Lindsay and I were upstairs. She cried because she felt like she cheated on her boyfriend for talking to another boy.

    “I love him, I love my boyfriend, I love him.”

    My head felt heavy, all the happiness I felt before dried up, like my dehydrated self. Anger, frustration, confusion. My eyes drooped. I wanted to stay awake. I didn’t want anyone touching me.
    I saw two frat boys come from the stairs. I’m not sure if I made it up in my head or I saw it, but I saw the guy holding a girl’s hand and persuading her to stay over.

    “Jessie, you’re drunk. Jessie, we don’t want you walking home alone, okay?”

    She nodded. He closed the door behind him. Was I next? Was I the next girl to go into a strange man’s room? Caitlin and Barbara weren’t in sight. All I had was a crying Lindsay and my hatred for all that was alcoholic: drinks, Listerine, people. Anything and everything and everybody I hated them. I hated it all.

    Caitlin promised me a glass of water. I wanted to cry, but what should I cry for? Being drunk? Being left alone?

    “May, how’d you end up on the floor?” Caitlin grabbed my arm and helped me up. Barbara looked in disgust at her friend Lindsay. Lindsay hadn’t broken up with her stupid boyfriend, like Barbara hoped.

    Heavy steps. Chills. Outside. Car. Room. Bed.

    My alarm went off, 10:30am. Church time. My face swollen, last night’s festivities must have come off of the smell of me. My skin hit its limits of stretch. No time for a shower. I pulled a dress on and pulled on some flats.  Caitlin slept, she always slept in on Sundays.

    Locked the door and walked down seven flights of stairs to Church. I tripped over a few broken bricks along the way to the imposing Cathedral. It was a short walk. Five seconds or so, really.

    Everything was bright outside; I couldn’t find my sunglasses in time, so I bared the sunlight. I stumbled in through the arched church doors and I sat in a pew in the middle of it all. My head still felt the heaviness of last night.

    I rested my head on the pew in front of me, I made sure I looked like I was praying. The priest made a beautiful speech that day. I don’t remember every word of it, but I remember feeling very inspired and insecure. Do not indulge too much. Did he know what I’d done last night? What I didn’t do? Love like no one has ever loved. But he’s a priest; he’d never know what it was like to really be a couple. Never forget your family. Oh, I had. I forgot them last night.

    I walked out of that church. My eyes felt especially swollen. I wanted to cry. Mom taught me not to cry in public. Though, I didn’t want to cry in front of my roommate either. I ran to the bathroom underneath our dining hall. I sat on the toilet and cried.

    What the fuck am I doing here? How the hell did I go from being a good girl to walking into church hungover? Did other people do this? I bet other people did this, but I didn’t do this kind of thing. What the hell was wrong with me? I’m tired, I just want to go home and forget about college and last night. I want to pretend to be that sweet girl again. I don’t want anyone to think I’d changed into… this. Would they know I changed into this girl? Was this the beginning of a newer May? A worse off May?

    I sobbed, I wailed, I hit the sides of the bathroom stall.

    My hand hurt. I thought of Mary, the virgin mother for a split second. My chest rose and fell. My heartbeat slowed down. I closed my eyes.

    “Where do I go?”

    Longwood.

    I knew it meant the university without any question. I hadn’t heard anything, but the word popped in my head. I hadn’t thought of it. Who thought of it? Did somebody think of it for me?
    Longwood, was that it? Do I get anything else? I paused and waited. I guess not.

    About The Author

    May Clare

    May Clare earned a B.A. in English from Longwood University in 2013. She is a former copy editor and Tumblr promoter of Spaces Literary Magazine. “Going to Church hungover” is her first piece to ever be published and she is truly grateful it is with aaduna. She is currently a Substitute Teacher and applying for a M.S. in Special Education.