"I hate men!"
I yell this from the closet in my dormroom where I have retreated after fighting with Jason during his fraternity Christmas party. My anger wasn't even directed at him, really; I was really mad at some jackhole in his fraternity who stole our champagne.
I've been a very good girl in college; funny how having a raging alcoholic parent at home will temper that whole getting-drunk-every-weekend thing that so many people I've been away at Centre with have done. But this Christmas I am 21, I finish up my student teaching on Wednesday, and I deserved every drop of that champagne. Damnit.
"Mom, what was that red champagne you and Dad used to buy at Christmas?" I asked my mom. This would be the first time in my life I could just waltz into a liquor store and buy some champagne; I wanted to get something good, and I figure I can probably afford the stuff that Mom and Dad had around at even our poorest Christmases.
"Cold Duck?" she laughs, and I can practically hear her shudder on the other end of the phone. "You can probably find something better than that. That stuff was awful. We only bought it because we didn't know any better."
Awful or not, Cold Duck (I can't believe that's really what it's called) makes me think of childhood Christmases good, bad, and ugly, so that's what I buy on a beer run up to Lexington one night. I planned on spliting the bottle with Jason and maybe not being the responsible, reliable, sensible English-major-seeking-secondary-certification person I so usually am at fraternity Christmas parties.
But nooooo. Jason and I had just had one glass (from a souvenir champagne glass we get every year, which we usually drink a "mocktail" out of of) of the stuff when he went to the friend's refrigerator where we were hiding our bright red stash and found it had been raided. Not only had someone drunk all but about one shot of the Cold Duck, someone had also taken the Keystone Amber Light he had in case the Cold Duck didn't go down as well as we were hoping. We aren't exactly made of money and barely scrounge enough extra for the occasional pizza or Whopper; that someone raided our booze has made me livid.
"Aren't you going to do something? Find out who did it? It's bright red; it shouldn't be hard to see who has it."
"Just let it go. It's not a big deal."
"It is a big deal! This is our last Centre Christmas party. I wanted to drink Cold Duck. Someone ruined that!"
"Let it go."
If there's one thing I'm not good at, it's letting it go.
So I grabbed my coat, didn't say goodbye, and left for my dorm room, where I knew my beloved roommate was having some girls over to watch Star Wars.
And now here I am, in one of our freakishly-huge-for-a-dorm-room closets, taking off my cocktail dress and getting into my sweats, cursing men in general and fraternity brothers in particular.
Karen pauses the movie and asks me if I'm okay.
"I will be." I come out of the closet, so to speak, and pour myself a drink from the bottle of Jameson (came with its own glasses!) Karen bought me for Christmas. Karen's love of all things Ireland has rubbed off on me and the whisky goes down smooth. I bought her a bottle of Bailey's so she can Irish up her hot chocolate this winter; neither of us are lushes, so we know we can handle the good stuff.
The one drink makes my head buzz pleasantly and I try to salvage what's left of my evening.
Before long I'm settled in watching Luke try to take down the Empire just like those pesky womp rats back home, laughing with some of my closest friends, gazing occasionally at the lights Karen has so beautifully strung around the room. I'm totally sucked in to this movie as if I don't know how it's going to end and I wonder why in the world I didn't just do this tonight in the first place.
Because I wanted one last Christmas party before all the uncertainty--that's why.
Who knows where next year will find us. Both Jason and I want to be teachers, and we both want to work in northern Kentucky so we can go back home. But who knows what will happen? Jason wants to be a high-school choir director, and those jobs aren't easy to come by. We're going to apply all over the state and just see what happens. Oh, Lord, I am so not good at just seeing what happens.
This time next year, Jason and I could be on different sides of the state. I'd like to think that since we've been together for almost 7 years that we're in it for life at this point, but as I love to point out when I'm trying to plant a seed, I'm not wearing a ring yet.
My roommate will be in Georgia, and so many of my other friends are spread out, too. Louisville, Lexington, northern Kentucky, Massachusetts, Alabama. This is the last holiday I'll be spending with this crazy new family I've made.
My last four Christmases have had a predictable pattern, and I don't need a therapist to tell me I thrive on predictability (though one did tell me that when I went a little crazy my sophomore year.) I dress up and go to a big party on campus; then on Christmas Eve I go to Jason's family party; Christmas morning is presents and dinner with my family; Christmas night we go to my friend Matt's grandma's house for cut-throat games of Rook or euchre. (Some may think it's odd that we hang out with Matt's grandma, but everyone young or old who's ever met her falls in love with her because she's that awesome.) During this 4-year period my Dad has stayed sober during Christmas though he hasn't at other times of the year. It's been nothing short of a miracle. I am not ready for all this to end.
Not knowing where I might be living this time next year has me seriously rattled. It seems like the whole fiber of who I am and what I know about myself is about ready to change.
Next week I finish up student teaching and my friends start their final exams for this semester. Then Jason and I have to stick around a few extra days performing in the madrigal dinner ("Wassail wassail, all over the town...") and then we go home. And that's it. Half of our senior year over and done. Five months until real life.
I could start to really flip out over this, but Luke is flying his X-Wing into the Death Star canyons and I've regained enough clarity to appreciate this evening for what it is.
Families are crazy and imperfect. Sometimes they're loud, sometimes they're obnoxious, sometimes they steal your Cold Duck.
Even when they make you insane, you love them. Because you never know which Christmas is the last one where you're all together.Tonight, I do know that this is the last one where this little family is all together. I slip out of the room for some water and to call Jason and apologize. I will spend the rest of the night with my hallmates, then go to Jason's on-campus apartment the next night for a bologna sandwich, Grippos, and Keystone Amber Light (he didn't take it ALL with him to the Christmas party). My favorites of his fraternity brothers will be there, and it will be the best fraternity Christmas party I've ever been to.
It's bittersweet that I know it will be my last, but it's the sweet that I remember.