Friday, April 1, 2011

Tamara

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:20 a.m.


Tamara clutched the package with a fierce determination.  This was the last of his shit.  As soon as she shipped this box off to L.A., he'd be out of her life forever.  The U.S. Postal Service flat-rate box was fairly small; it contained only a few items.  Some charcoal pencils, a tacky Chairman Mao lighter, a Margot and the Nuclear So-and-So's CD.  And a cable-knit scarf that he used to let her wear when they'd go out to smoke on cold nights.

Tamara was from a small town in Georgia.  She was the first person in her family to go to college, and while her parents were thrilled that she was accepted to DePaul, they were nervous about her moving to "the big city."  They always referred to it as "the big city"--never Chicago.

She met Alex at a party during her first week of school.  He was unlike anyone she had ever known; his life was almost exactly the opposite of hers.  His father had traveled for work, so Alex had grown up in many of the world's major cities.  She remembered that story he told her about that lighter.  He had picked it up in high school when he was living in Beijing, at some place called the Silk Market.  She had always picture the Silk Market as some fanciful outdoor bazaar, until one day she googled it and discovered that it was just a giant, crowded mall, stuffed with kiosks selling knock-off clothing and souvenirs.

Alex was studying music--he played the piano wonderfully.  But he was really a Renaissance man of sorts (or at least that's how he presented himself).  He liked to sing, draw, and make films.  He was well-versed in literature and theater.  When he started talking to her at that party, Tamara was totally baffled as to why he'd want to talk to a business major like her at all.  He was like an alien.  An extremely attractive, fascinating alien.

And she had to admit to herself that at the time she was practically begging to be abducted.  After all, not many people are overflowing with confidence at the beginning of their freshman year of college.  She was happy to be wanted, especially by such a worldly person.  Their relationship moved quickly.  They were always together, and he continually introduced her to all the things you can't find in small-town Georgia.  They saw plays in little storefront theaters.  They danced to the music of Pitchfork-magazine-beloved bands at the Metro and The Vic.  They spent hours browsing in used bookstores and record shops.  Junior year they moved in together.

That's when she started noticing his many flaws.  He drank too much.  He didn't care about his grades, or what he was going to do after college.  Tamara had a part-time job at a bank, and when they went out she was usually the one paying.  And it's not as though he only enriched her life.  She could have found out about all those bands and books a million other ways.  Just living in the city probably would have done it.  He dragged her down, too.  She never smoked until she started going out with him.  She passed up opportunities to study abroad in order to stay with him.  She could have seen the world, and instead she just stayed to hear him talk about the world.  He was her world, and now she was disgusted with herself.  When she found him in bed with one of his professors near the end of senior year, it was the final straw.

That's right.  One trip to the post office and she'd finally be done with Alex.  She could focus on the important things, like her job at Northwestern's administrative offices.  She could put her own life together the way she wanted it.  Alien-free.

Alright.  There's that post.  Off to see Glittermouse!  They are a lovely little band.  You should check them out.  

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