I have one computer, a desktop. I have had three computers in my life, but only one at a time. Normally, when I write a post, I sit cross-legged on my desk chair. I'm deliberately curled into a small position; compact. I type on my flat, black keyboard, hitting every letter except, perhaps, one--the 'z.'
Right now, however, I'm at an auto service center.
There are three other individuals in the waiting area. The person to my right is a plump blond-haired woman named Suzie. I know this because one of the attendants called her to the desk. It could be Suzy. Or Susie. Or Susy. It could have one 's.' No 'i's.' Two 'z's.' Her left hand, unadorned, cups her cell phone. She is middle-aged. 40. 45. 50.
Adjacent to me are two Asian women. They giggle at photos on a red phone, point at text in a shared book. They speak in their native language, which I assume is Japanese. They laugh when I smash a spider nearing my toes. "I hate spiders," I say with a smile. Too many legs, eight legs.
Behind me, outside, is my car. It awaits an oil change. I am over. Over by 1,265 miles.
I hear fans in the garage. Clicking to my left. Suzie or Suzy or Susie taps at her phone, engrossed in a game. CLIEIING. "Bejeweled," perhaps?
Seven yellow signs plaster the floor, adorn the walls. TUFFY, they scream. TUFFY DOES IT RIGHT.
I scribble in contrasting purple, write with a pen that I have taken notes with for three years.
I've been at Purdue for two years, or four semesters. One fall semester, three spring semesters. Two years.
I'm going to miss you, Purdue. You were my number one. I chose you above the other three--University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern, Baylor. You were first. I'm going to miss you, and I can tell you that my heart already aches, that my stomach already echoes the pain, when I think of the eighteen cardboard boxes I have back in my room, two miles away.
Four years ago, I helped my then-boyfriend pack up his room, his belongings. We loaded them into the family van, a tried-but-true vehicle that had once driven him to, through and from Alaska. We stood behind the van, the hatch open. We stared. Stared at the boxes and containers, the garbage bags of clothes.
"My entire life fits in the back of a van," he said.
My entire life at Purdue now rests beneath what used to be Eva's loft. Eighteen boxes. My life at Purdue is eighteen cardboard boxes.
In approximately five hours, my mother, brother and grandmother will arrive on campus. Eighteen hours from now, I will graduate. In three days, I will drive back to Iowa.
Oh God oh God oh God oh God.
This purple pen is not a magic wand. I cannot have more time.
Four days ago, I celebrated my birthday. I turned 23. My brother was an addict at 23. My mother was already married at 23. That was 1979. My grandmother was already a mother at 23. That was 1958. I'm far from child-rearing, from marriage. I'm not even a college graduate yet, 53 years later.
I go online, recount my credits. 195. I review my transcript. Ninety-five transfer credits. Seventy-five percent of my major completed at Purdue. How many thousands will I walk with tomorrow? How many weeks until I receive my $80,000 diploma in the mail? Six to eight?
I will not remember tomorrow.
There are eighteen boxes in my room. One graduate outfit hangs in my closet. There are three good friends whom I will miss. There are 3,145 photos of this semester to remember them by. 5,905 photos of the academic year. There were five of us that marked my birthday four days ago. Nine days ago, Hans and I celebrated our second anniversary by driving 62.4 miles to a restaurant in Indianapolis and, tomorrow, we will both graduate from college. In three days, I'll get into my car, the one that--in the course of my scribbling--has been taken into the shop. I'll get into it, turn the station to 96.5. I'll look at the full gas tank, the 144, 620 miles and counting.
It will rive me away from my friends, from Purdue. It will carry eighteen boxes two states over, 600 miles away.
No more note taking, purple pen. After three years, I have no more notes to take.