After class weeks later, I decide to visit some friends in Yarrow Hall. When I get inside, I see Philip and our friend Darius shooting each other with Nerf guns. They are jumping over couches in the lobby sweating their asses off, trying to mimic the old Nerf 90s commercials. I walk through the first floor hallway to get to my friend Chris B’s room. I knock on the door. Chris opens it as I get shot in the head.
“Headshot!” Danny yells out of excitement
“Yo, what’s going on with these damn Nerf guns?”
“I don’t know everyone just started shooting each other out of nowhere. David has a sniper rifle and a machine gun next door.”
“Seriously?” I leave his room and walk over to David’s room. The door is wide open.
“Yo Dav –” I get shot in the head again, this time with a sniper rifle. David turns to his friend who is preoccupied with Halo.
“Hahaha! Hey, Austin, I shot Siders in the head!” Austin doesn’t respond.
“I heard you got a machine gun, too?” I say. David pulls out his ridiculously huge machine gun.
“Yup. Ain’t she a beauty?”
“Y’all mothafuckas is crazy.”
“Shit, when it goes down we’ll be ready. You better get some heat. People been shooting each other all over campus.” Danny comes up to me and gives me one of his nerf pistols.
“You can use this and six Nerf bullets to get you through, you know…just in case.”
“I mean I’m –” I get shot in the head again.
“Hahaha! Another headshot!” Philip yells running by.
“Fuck it. I’ll take it.”
Walking back to my dorm, I see people hiding from their friends, waiting to let Nerf bullets rain in the Diverty Quad outside of Willet. I get back to my dorm, and after fifteen minutes of eerie silence, I hear someone knocking on my neighbor Gabe’s door down the hall towards the entrance. When the door opens all I hear is someone unloading with a nerf machine gun. People are screaming. I quickly grab my nerf pistol and load it all before someone knocks on my door. The door opens,
“FREEZE!” I draw the nerf gun.
“Woa-woah, hold dude it’s me. Derek!” Derek comes in the room with two friends. I put my nerf gun down.
“Holy shit dude. You scared the fuck out of me. Someone next door got lit up, I thought I was gonna be next.”
“Really? Damn people are going wild over these Nerf Wars.”
That night CSUMB’s main campus just went to shit. Word on the street is all the RAs left so people were just doing what they wanted. I went out to get some food and I saw people putting anarchist signs on the side of Yarrow facing the student center and on the Otter Express. When I got back to my dorm, Philip and Derek were outside near Alina’s door with a huge machine Nerf gun.
“Hey Chris! Come here, hurry up.” Derek whispered.
“What’s going on?”
“We going to prank Alina…you in?” Normally I can sense bad decisions from a mile away, but I figured since we were always hanging out together she wouldn’t take it seriously. I knock on her door, she answers, and then Derek comes in with the machine gun. Alina is getting shot by Nerf bullets.
“Hey guys…stop…STOP!!” Alina yells. Philip and I back off. We can tell she’s pissed. Derek laughs a little.
“WHAT THE FUCK, YOU DON’T DISRESPECT MY FUCKING SPACE! NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM!!” We all walk out, and Alina slams her door shut. Philip, Derek and I walk to our room.
“Just give her some time. It’s going to be fine.” Derek says.
The problem with that statement coming from Derek, is that within our one month in college, Derek has already gained the reputation of being an asshole. I never really had any problems with him. I always thought he was good people, just played too much sometimes, and that he didn’t know boundaries. This is one of those cases, and I made the bad decision to go along with him.
“Imma go get something to eat, wanna come?” he asks.
“Na man. I ate earlier,” I reply. Philip doesn’t respond to Derek.
“Alright then. Later.” Derek leaves the dorm.
“Man…that was fucking stupid.” Philip utters in shame.
“Yeah, man…I feel terrible…”
“I know I play a lot, but never to the extent of pissing people off like that and disrespecting them. That wasn’t cool.” I nod in agreement.
“Tomorrow night imma apologize to her. You can come with me if you’re down.”
“Why not do it now?” I ask.
“I think we should give her some space for now. Let her cool down.”
After we finish talking, I kick it in the dorm room, and Philip goes out for a walk to cool down. By the time Derek gets back, I’m already in bed. I have trouble sleeping. I feel like shit. I should have never done that. People always told me I was too uptight about shit and needed to loosen up. Why did I think this shit is going to make me more appealing? Stupid, stupid, Chris. The next morning, I wake up feeling like shit. I go about my day still feeling like shit. I can’t eat. My energy is drained, and it seems as if this day is just dragging on the longer I don’t apologize. When it’s all said and done later that night, Philip and I confront Alina and apologize. She accepts our apology. I still feel like shit and I continue avoiding Alina the next couple of weeks.
I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving Break, and as I’m packing my clothes, someone knocks on the door. I open it.
“Hey Chris.” It’s Alina, she has a concerned look on her face.
“Hey how you doing?” I go back to my bed where my clothes are.
“I’m doing alright, I just wanted to check in…I haven’t heard from you in awhile you okay?”
“I’m fine.” I don’t look at her.
“Okay…well what are you up to?”
“Packing up to go home for break.”
“You want to hangout with me? And watch TV?”
“Aw c’mon! It’ll be chill!”
“Fine.” I put my clothes down. Alina grabs my arm and leads me to her room. We sit on her bed.
“What are we watching?” I ask.
“You heard of Vampire Diaries?”
“What in the world is the Vampire Diaries?”
“What?! You’ve never heard of it?!”
Alina goes on a rave about Vampire Diaries and a guy named Ian Somerhalder who plays one of the main characters. She opens her laptop and cut to Hulu to watch the episodes.
“Come closer…it’s okay.”
She says in an attempt to make sure I’m comfortable. She presses play. To me, we are way too damn close. I start getting hot. I try my best to not sweat. In an attempt to make the nervousness go away, I imagine myself watching cartoons. However, I am sooooo tempted to smell my armpits to see if I stink.
“AHHHHH!! IAN SOMERHALDER!!”
Alina yells in my ear. It turns out Ian Somerhalder is your typical male sex symbol and every woman’s dream. White guy, silk hair, buff with blue eyes.
“So this is the guy you keep talking about?”
“Mhm! Isn’t he sexy?!”
Ian is killing my damn vibe. Imma need him and his abs to take a hike. Before I know it we have watched three episodes of Vampire Diaries. One episode is one hour long, meaning I sat there trying to keep my composure for THREE FUCKING HOURS.
“Ahh that was relaxing. How you feel Chris?” She says while stretching her arms yawning.
“Yeah that was pretty cool.” An awkward tension fills the air, as I quickly get off her bed.
“You know…I want you to feel comfortable to tell me anything Chris. I’m here for you. I just noticed you haven’t been your usual self.”
“I know…I trust you.” We smile at each other.
“Okay…well. Imma get ready for bed. Goodnight Chris!”
I leave Alina’s room and close the door behind me. I let out a sigh of relief while thanking the heavens I did not fart next to her, because I really gotta let one rip.
Thanksgiving Break comes and goes. Back at school, I don’t see Alina that much, mostly in passing while running in and out of Cypress Hall during the bleak and hectic finals season. I had been camping out in the library for 24 hours writing papers with Philip, Darius, and our friend Ian. Occasionally, every couple hours or so during my mini walks around the building, I would see someone passed out on the second floor couches. There were students stressed out and crying out of frustration, some were even taking drugs to get them through the long nights.
“What the…yo, Chris, look down out the window.” Philip says.
“Huh…” I look down and August is standing in the middle of the street between Asilomar Hall and the library.
“It’s 3am in the morning, what the fuck is he doing?” I ask. Willie, August’s friend, approaches us.
“Hey, what’s up guys! What are y’all looking at?”
“August is in the middle street just standing there.” Philip replies. Willie lets out a sigh.
“Oh…yeah August. He’s high off shrooms. Don’t mess with him though, he’ll have a bad trip if someone touches him.”
“Well that explains that mystery,” Philip says.
We go back to work and leave August in the street. Around 4am August leaves the spot he was standing in. We didn’t see him for the rest of the night. After many long painful days in the library, our savior relinquishes us from our chains. Winter Break is here.
I go home to Los Angeles. Within the first week of being home, I don’t like it. The days are long. I hear sounds of fireworks, that may very well be gunshots outside my window. The paramedics are constantly driving by. Cars speeding down the street, and the damn Ghetto Bird hovering over the neighborhood. Turning on the news, I see gang members killing more innocent people not too far from where I live. Los Angeles is just not the place for me anymore. Back in Monterey, I rarely hear about any craziness. To make things worse, I keep thinking about Alina. She was the first person I thought about when I woke up, and the last person I thought about before I went to sleep.
35 days later, I’m back in the matrix. I visit my friend Chris B. in Yarrow.
“Hey, what’s going on bro?” I walk into the room, lean on his bed, and take a deep breath before responding.
“Nothin’ much man…yo…I’m thinking about asking out Alina.”
“My next door neighbor.”
“Oh that’s right. Yes. Yes…”
“Well, Valentine’s Day is coming…maybe I can do something?”
“That’s a good idea, but don’t go too wild. Do something no other person can do but you.” He thinks for a couple of seconds.
“I got it!”
“What you thinking?” I ask.
“Write her a poem!”
“Why not? You mad talented with the rhymes…and concepts.”
“What am I going to say? Roses are red, Violets are a blue, I got a crush on you? Fuck outta here with that fam.”
“Just saying dude…I think you should give it a shot…”
After running out of ideas. I cave in. However, I don’t want it to be just any regular poem. So I spend the next few days really thinking about what the fuck to write. I want it to be honest. If I get rejected, I want to continue the friendship, because at the end of the day, that’s what matters most. I’m just unsure if things will get awkward at the end of everything. After I get done writing the piece, I don’t like it. I feel the way it came out is just me being a wimp and missing the message I want to convey. So, I go back to Chris’ place to ask his opinion.
“Dude, I don’t know why you trippin’ it’s good.”
“I-I don’t know man. It’s missing something.” I say pacing back and forth. I stop and look at the paper I wrote the piece on closely.
“Hmm…I wonder…” I get an idea. I start writing the lines in reverse order. When I finish, I read the piece, and feel that it’s perfect.
“Let me see.” Chris B says.
Here’s to your departure…
This Bell tolls
for the ghost of the woman,
I loved may she rest
In my Sacrilegious world in which I reside,
you no longer exist
letting all the memories
fade away into the abyss
finding it hard to come to grips
with the mistake I made
I still see your spirit floating on…
through the darkness at your wake
I wanted revenge,
but I didn’t realize the result would be “us” dying
when you ripped my rib cage open,
and took what was mine
At that moment,
I lost sight of what was most important
when I looked at you laying in that casket…
I had an indescribable emotion…
attempting to rejoice
with the joyous feeling of compassion
I was trapped in hypnosis,
surround by unknown voices
standing at your grave
with a bouquet of yellow roses
What more can I say…
“Yo, this is the one. You got something right here.” I go back to my dorm and Alina is in the hallway.
“Hey Chris! What are you up to?”
“Okay. I wanted to know if you want to come with me to see the Vagina Monologues? I got a couple tickets.”
Now sex is just not my thing. Yes…I masturbate like anyone else with a dick, but I keep it to myself. A show called the Vagina Monologues? Sounds like a weird thing I do not want to get caught up in.
“Oh. No thank you.”
“Are you sure? I heard it’s really great.”
“I’ll take a pass on it. Sounds like it’s not my thing.”
“Oh…alright. I guess I’ll catch you later then.”
“Wait, before you go…”
“Are your roommates home?”
“Gloria is there. Alexis is gone.”
“Okay, thanks Alina. I’ll catch you later.” I knock on Alina’s door and Gloria answers.
“Hey Chris. You just missed Alina.”
“Hey Gloria. Oh na,, I saw in the hallway…I wanted to ask you for your help with something.”
“Well, I’m pretty sure you already guessed, but I have a crush on Alina, and I want to do something special on Valentine’s Day for her.”
“Awwwww! That’s so cute!” I almost vomit when she says that. Just eww.
“So…I wanted to know if you could let me in on Valentine’s day so I can put everything on her desk and decorate.”
“Oh my…sure. I got you!”
“Forsure, thanks Gloria!”
“Yeah! No problem Chris! I’m sure she’ll be happy to see what you’re doing for her. It’s really sweet.”
I go to my dorm, and Derek is sitting at his desk trying to get some work done.
“Hey bro, you going to the store anytime soon?” I ask.
“Why you ask?”
“I wanted to get some stuff for Valentine’s Day.”
“Oh ok. Imma go a day or two before Valentine’s to get the stuff I need…who’s the special lady?”
“Alina.” Derek damn near falls out of his chair.
“Ah…ok. Cool…Got any ideas on what to give her?”
“I got a couple.”
“Alright forsure then I’ll let you know when I go.”
A week and a half later, Derek and I go to Save Mart on Reservation road. Walking inside we see the bouquets of flowers and Roses.
“Alright dude, what are you trying to communicate to her?” Derek asks.
“Well that I like her…”
“Only reason why I asked is because each color, flower and the amount each have different meanings. For example, a yellow rose resembles friendship.”
“What does Red mean?”
“Red can have several meanings, but don’t give her a single red rose.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Do you love her or like her?”
“I got love for her as a friend.”
“A single red rose indicates that you love her.”
“And if I did a bouquet of red roses?”
“That could mean you have a lot of love for her, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Too risky.”
We got what we needed and left CVS. Getting back to campus I realized she might be in her room, so putting everything in my room became a mission. It’s game over if Alina sees me with all this junk walking down the hallway. I had Derek walk up and see if everything was clear. He stood in front of her peephole, while I ran everything into my room. Literally, a minute later, Alina walks up the hallway and starts talking to Derek. A second earlier, and everything would have been ruined.
Now, it’s Game Day. The moment I’ve been waiting for. I spoke to Alina’s roommates and put everything on her desk at around 1pm. I feel as if my stomach is about to burst. I stay by the peephole at my door, waiting for her to come home to see her reaction. I know it sounds creepy, but I just wanted to see her reaction. I would feel horrible if she felt uncomfortable with everything. Seven hours later, I’m still hyped, blood still rushing through my body. I didn’t even go to class all day. I just impatiently sat around, waiting to hear her door open. I paced back and forth around the room. Played music on low volume. Surfed the web. 9pm hits, and I hear Alina talking loudly in the hallway. I run to my door quietly, and look through the peephole to watch it all unfold. She unlocks and opens her door.
“Oh my god! This is so sweet! Did you guys do this?” I look through the peephole into the hallway, and her friends look confused.
“No…we didn’t do anything…” One of her friends says.
“Huh? Wow. I wonder who…balloons…gourmet chocolate…bouquet of roses, and a card…wait…fucking Chris!” Alina says as she opens the card finding the poem in it.
Next thing I know, she starts knocking and banging on my door.
“Chris! Chris! CHRIS!” I open my door and act as if I am just waking up from a nap.
“Hey Alina…what’s going on?”
“Chris, did you do this?” She said leaving her door wide open for me to see the gifts. I smile.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Alina.”
“Aww! Thank you, Chris!”
“Would you do me the honor of being my first Valentine?”
“Oh my…Yes! Of course I’ll be your Valentine.”
She gives me a hug and I feel oh so warm on the inside. Seeing her smile makes everything worth it…even though I currently don’t have a dollar to my name.
“Hey Alina, I’m about to go to bed, but I’m glad to hear you like everything.”
“Thank you, Chris.” She says as she pauses for second, looking at me with smoky black mascara around her green eyes, and she plants her soft lips on my cheek.
I went to bed feeling good about everything, but the job wasn’t done yet. I still have to tell her face to face that I have feelings for her. One week later, I am now standing at her door, about to jump off a cliff. I take a deep breath and…
“I…I got something to tell you.”
“I’m fine.” I take a deep breath and let it all go. “I have feelings for you.”
We both get silent for a couple of minutes. Then she takes a deep breath and responds.
“I’m sorry Chris but I can’t give you anything right now. I’m really focused on putting my life together. That’s why you rarely see me now.”
I feel bad, because yeah I got rejected, but more importantly, I feel like I’m getting in the way of her goals to work on herself.
“You okay, Chris?”
“I’m alright just a little awkward.”
“It’s only awkward if you make it awkward.”
After a small pause, we smile at each other and hug.
“You know I got love for you, Chris. If you need anything don’t hesitate to come by.”
“Thanks Alina…I got love for you, too. Let me know if you need anything.”
I get up and walk to the door. We both say goodnight to each other, and I close the door and go to my room. I’m glad at the end of it all, I didn’t lose my best friend.