I had been in the library until 11:00 every night prepping my senior thesis on real estate finance. It was Friday night, which meant everyone would be at the townie bars — The Good Neighbor or Harry’s — or still trickling into the theater to see Four Weddings and a Funeral. I had bigger aspirations. More than the culmination of my coursework at Wharton, my thesis would cement my submission for my internship in corporate real estate in New York, my admission to the big leagues.
But the Journal of Finance with the Alan Greenspan article I needed was missing. After rechecking the card catalog to make sure, I headed for the circulation desk.
“Oh hey, Ronald!” the girl behind the desk perked up. Then I recognized her. Chelsea and I had been close freshman year — and more than a little competitive in business finance — before she suddenly transferred to liberal arts. She had bleached her hair and was wearing a flannel shirt around her waist like a counter-culture stereotype.
We reminisced and chatted about our lives, my internship and corporate goals, her second job at Borders and sharing poetry on Saturdays in the library basement. The journal I needed was checked out until next week, but as consolation Chelsea handed me her copy of Sweet Ruin and told me to give it a read — she dog-eared a couple pages — we could talk about it tomorrow night.
Two of the marked pages, History of Desire and Carnal Knowledge, piqued my interest about Chelsea’s intentions. But others were less obvious to me, concerning manhood, strength, finding your way. I guess nobody writes poems about earning money and wielding power. It probably leaves a bad taste in the mouths of the unwashed masses.
And unwashed masses were what I expected to find upon entering the library’s basement the next night — long-haired flower-children and dirty potheads thrumming a bongo and snapping their fingers. But the group was more diverse — faculty and minorities and a couple of guys who were probably gay. I recognized my old calculus TA and the delivery guy from the campus pizza. People shared poems about capitalism and gun violence and coffee chains. Chelsea’s dealt with people moving in circles and crashing into themselves over and over.
I thought about the last time we’d seen each other. We had been working. Even when we…