The next day, Melissa wants to cook a big meal and invite people over, but who should we invite? I call Sean, of course, even though I don't know if she'll like anything we make. Do I have any other friends? Melissa and I go to Bread & Circus to get groceries, and then we’re sitting down and having a snack from the salad bar and Melissa says you know, you seem calmer here. Really, I say. And Melissa says really. And I say I don't feel calmer. But then I'm thinking about it on the T, and I realize that there are things I do here that I would never have done in San Francisco, like go to the park and sit by myself and look at the water. Or just spend time alone or with Abby in the house, and maybe that's what Melissa means. Maybe I'm not so manic. Maybe sometimes my head feels clearer. Maybe it makes sense that I'm here.
When we get home I decide to call Juniper and Sage at the last minute — Sage is working but Juniper says he'll come over, and then I figure I'll call Daniel, even though I haven't heard from him after the other night, did I tell you about the other night? I was at Quest and it was early, but I was getting ready to leave to catch the T, and just as I was walking down the stairs this boy came running up to me and said: You aren't leaving, are you?
And I said yeah, I have to catch the T, and he said will you dance with me for one song so I said sure, went back up with him after I’d said goodbye to everyone and ended up dancing to five or six songs until I needed water so I asked him if he wanted to come downstairs with me and then we ended up making out for a half-hour or 45 minutes like there was no one else around, just the textures of skin and tongue and teeth and hair and oh, it was so hot, I think it reawakened something in me, like maybe I can finally go up to the boys who I think are hot although I guess I did sit right next to him when I arrived and said hi, but then I thought he was straight, since he was with a straight woman, but it turns out that she told him to go up to me, said I was the hottest boy there and the best dancer. It was his birthday. I told him it felt like my birthday too.
But anyway, Daniel’s not there — I wonder if I'll ever hear from him again. But then the funniest part is that Aki calls from Providence and asks if I want to go out — not tonight, I say, but do you want to come over for dinner? Dinner, she says, like it's a really strange question but she's excited. So then we actually end up with six of us although there are only five chairs — oh, wait, there's the one in Abby’s room, perfect.
Melissa makes this elaborate miso soup where you cook the broth a few hours ahead of time with daikon radish and tofu and shiitake mushrooms and seaweed and tamari, and then at the last minute you add scallions and the miso, and then we make a big stirfry and brown rice, and Aki says this is kind of like Japanese food. Sean looks kind of grossed out, but she doesn't say anything, and Abby and Juniper love it. Juniper’s ready to smoke pot right afterwards, so she takes out her bowl but it turns out she's the only one who wants any, and then we sit around and gossip about everyone we hate, and honey there's a lot of gossip. Then Sean and Abby decide to go out with Aki, who tries to convince me and Melissa to join them. Melissa’s all for it, but I say I'm tired, even though the truth is that I just don't want to end up doing drugs around Melissa and today’s Saturday so it's hard to imagine going to Quest without drugs, right? Maybe the Loft — yeah, right, that always works.
And then it turns out Sean called Karla, and she shows up coked out of her mind. Somehow everyone fits into her tiny sports car, and Melissa and I wave goodbye like everyone's going on a journey. We sit down and I'm kind of worried that she's going to say that she doesn't understand my life at all, but actually she says: I like your friends. Really, I say, because I'm not so sure I like them. And she said yeah, it's nice to see you here, I can tell you're learning.
And I ask her what she thinks I'm learning. And she says: How to live. And I remember that's one of the things I love about her, that she can see things so clearly, that she can appreciate all different worlds because she's never belonged anywhere, and that's one of the things we have in common. Then the next day she's getting ready to go to the airport and she says: I just don't know what I'm going to do when I see my father again. What do you mean, I say, don't you still live with him? And she says yes, but that's how I feel, that's how I feel every day. And I tell her she needs to get out, she needs to get away and she says I know, I know you're right, but I'm having trouble figuring out how. And then we hug goodbye, and I don't feel sad until she leaves and I'm sitting in the apartment thinking about what the hell I'm going to do today, I guess it's Sunday, right, Sunday, so Avalon is later but what about the next nine hours?