As the sun started to peak its way out from behind the mountain and through the square window, I heard Sierra’s body shift against the fibers of the brown couch. This was the eighth morning we were waking up like this and although I missed my soft touch memory foam mattress and thick comforter, I felt myself getting used to this new normal. I looked down at the makeshift bed we put together for Ashley which inevitably turned into a blanket crumpled near her feet with her arm resting atop the extra couch pillow. According to our new routine, she’d be down for another hour or so.
I rubbed the palm of my hand against my eye and dug the sleep crusties out with my pinkie before picking up my phone which I failed to charge the night before. I plugged in and pulled up MSN to look at the updated Coronavirus numbers; this had also become the new normal. Sierra held her phone above her face with both hands and was probably checking the same thing. We’d silently scroll through social media for about fifteen minutes before getting up to pee… and yes, before you ask, we’re washing our hands for the full twenty seconds.
“What are we making this morning?” I kept my voice low as I rummaged through the unorganized refrigerator; there was old Jello crusted on the plastic shelf and spaghetti stains on the sides; cleaning it out fully would certainly be on the to do list this weekend. “Let’s do crepes,” I suggested before giving her time to answer. “We can do crepes and sausage links… and fruit. Yeah, that’ll be nice, and last night Todd was saying he wanted something different.”
I moved my sight to the pantry to make sure we were stocked with flour.
“Alec went to the store last and we definitely put flour on the list so it should be there,” Sierra sounded hopeful as she opened another cabinet.
It’s not as if we were fully familiar with the house… like I said, we’d only been there for eight days. Instead of flying across the country once the University of Miami shut down, we decided to shelter in place with friends. There was a little spark with Todd, but it hadn’t amounted to anything outside of harmless flirting… yet. Jared had a crush on Ashley, but she had a boyfriend back in Colorado… a boyfriend she fought with incessantly. You could say they were hanging on by a thread. Sierra and Alec were best friends — zero hope for romance as Alec had a boyfriend, Geoff.
“Found it!” she announced, holding the flour up as if she would win a prize.
The kitchen was a mess from the night before, covered in Chick-Fil-A wrappers, cups, paper from playing Pictionary, and a few lonely socks. It was only 7:45… the boys wouldn’t be down for another 45 minutes, so we had plenty of time to clean up and make the house look presentable. It’s really the least we could as they were letting us stay for free.
“You get all the trash together and I’ll load the dishwasher. Ashley should be down here any minute; she can clean the counters and tidy up the living room while we start cooking. Seriously, these crepes are gonna be so good. Ooh, do we have strawberries? Do you know if Alec got some?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Sierra nodded while she reached under the sink to grab a black Hefty trash bag. Her boujee blonde hair would be back to shoulder length once it was time to adjust her extensions next week. The boujee salon she went to announced their closure for at least 45 days. I always thought shorter hair suited her face better anyway.
“Oh, hello gorgeous! Thank you for gracing us with your presence!” Sierra smiled as Ashley walked into the kitchen. She pushed air out of her nose to acknowledge our existence and sat down on a bar stool, letting out her morning yawn.
“I know you’re just waking up but we’re gonna make crepes once we have all this shit cleaned. Can you wipe down the counters? Then just throw the pillows back on the couch and relax, babe.”
She let out another yawn, which seemed dramatic, but then again, most yawns do.
“Mmhmm,” she half smiled, pulled a stray hair from her forehead and grabbed the Lysol wipes from the dining room table, then started wiping the granite, simultaneously scraping waffle fry crumbs into her other hand.
Once everything was aesthetically acceptable, Sierra and I confirmed we had all the necessary ingredients and went to work. Within ten minutes, the sausage aroma throughout the house was unmistakable, and like clockwork, Alec popped his cute little head in at 8:15.
“What’s cookin, good lookins?” he peered over our shoulders at the stove top and wrapped his arms around our waists. Alec had the best morning energy and I already knew I would miss it when it was time to go back to school. If only you could bottle someone’s persona…
“Morning! Go sit down with Ash, babe! We’re making crepes with fruit and a bunch of sausage. It’s gonna be delicious!” I almost said it was my Grandma’s recipe, but I refrained… it was more likely that I remembered it from the top hit on Google when you search ‘crepes.’
Within 15 minutes, we had the full crew downstairs. The large bowl of pineapple, strawberries, and grapes was already on the table being picked at. The skillet holding 30 sausage links was placed down on top of a gray oven mit, followed by the stack of crepes that sat in the oven to stay warm.
“You guys have really outdone yourselves,” Todd started as he eyeballed the warm food.
“We have syrup, right?” his blue eyes, albeit sleepy, were vibrant and beautiful.
“Oh shit. That’s the one thing I didn’t check for… I think you guys will have to make do without it,” I did an excellent job of holding back my smile as I held the maple syrup behind my back. “Kidding. Of course there’s syrup. And powdered sugar if you want it.” I should’ve kept the bit going for much longer but I was hungry too.
We quoted a few lines from Dinner For Schmucks — a movie we’d already watched twice during our shelter in place. What can I say? Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd make a great combo. And the guy that plays Kieran? Forget it.
“What day is it?” Jared sincerely asked, scratching his shirtless chest while scarfing down his fifth sausage link. They’d inevitably start their daily workout routine at 10, which they would stream on Instagram, because that’s what everyone does now.
Ashley was the first to answer him (informing him it’s Friday), which you could tell made him happy — they riffed for a few minutes before it was time to clear plates and throw them in the dishwasher. Some days, we’d join the boys for their workouts, but today, we had to focus on our Sociology class, which is where we met. Mr. Rubenstein was a prick most of the time, so we all wanted his approval that much more. I think the highest grade he’s ever given out was a 93, which is a hard pill to swallow for someone with a complex about their grades.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I’m trying to prove I’m smart, or because visually, it’s more pleasing to look at a row of A’s than a scramble of letters. Maybe I just forced myself to work hard and keep my grades up so my eyeballs could be pleased with the end result… either way… here we are, striving for greatness in the confines of four walls.
No, the house was plenty big — I think Todd’s parents are rich from some electronic HR company they founded and sold back in 2006. Every time I hear a story like that, I kick myself for not doing it myself, except that I know nothing about coding or creating a software, so I suppose I’ll give myself a pass on the Loecher HR company.
We threw on our bathing suits and SPF before heading up to the deck for Rubenprick’s class. Might as well get a tan while we continue our education into the structure of human society. I’m sure he’d have some profound insight on what this virus is doing to our economy, along with some interactive test we’d need to do.
Every so often, we’d hear the boys in the backyard grunting or pumping each other up after they’d burn out a muscle group. At first, we’d laugh or roll our eyes at the douchery of it all, but the more we were around them, the more non-douchey they became, and plus, human beings have a knack for getting used to anything. I learned that in Sociology… kidding.
After wrapping up and securing some solid tan lines, we did a 45-minute yoga class with Stephanie — this highly acclaimed teacher that was offering a few free classes during the pandemic.
“GIRLS!” Todd yelled from somewhere outside. “We’re going to the grocery store. Want anything?”
“Yeah, babe, hold on, we’ll be right down!” I announced back. We grabbed our towels, came inside and ran down the stairs to meet the boys in the second living room where Jared was seemingly playing pool by himself.
We discussed our plan for the evening as we ran down.
“Okay. So, since it’s Friday, we’re thinking we should throw a little party! We can play beer pong Olympics and Kings Cup and whatever else. It’ll be a blast!” Ashley smiled. It was a smile that said, “what boyfriend?”
“Right, so I’ll text you a list of what we need and we’ll Venmo you once we know how much you spend. We should just do tapas tonight, though, so we don’t overload and get full.” I hated drinking on a full stomach. Yes, I have enough self-awareness to recognize how that sounds, but whatever — just keeping it real. Plus, Todd’s looking extra cute; his scruffy blonde hair is sitting just right, and I can feel the vibe.
Jared stayed home and Ashley joined him at the pool table while Sierra and I put away the dishes from last night / this morning. I had a bite of vegan cookie dough from the fridge and made my way upstairs to take a shower. We all used Alec’s shower because he offered, and thank God, because it was by far the cleanest.
At 12:30, I put on my face-mask and plugged in for a 20-minute guided meditation which focused on prosperity. Per usual, I would journal for another 20 minutes afterward, but once I finished, I felt outside of my body. I realized the memories we were creating here at this house would be some of the best in my lifetime… memories I would cherish forever. I smiled and let a tear fall from my right eye. I had another 30 minutes before my next class.
Freshman Composition — it was a favorite; I really felt myself thrive when I was writing, and my teacher loved me which was an added bonus.
By 5:30, we were all done with our scheduled responsibilities and despite the fact that I already showered, my Adidas running shoes were screaming at me to take them out for a spin, so I obliged and did a quick two miles. The boys were putting our tapas dinner together tonight, so we’d have time to get ready. We used Todd’s bathroom this time, since he had a massive mirror and counter top space.
“Do you think a smoky eye is too much for staying in?” Sierra asked while looking down at her Anastasia Subculture palette.
“Hell no, babe. We’re going all out tonight. We’re blowing out our hair, layering on the shadow, and dressing up!” I demanded.
“You’re damn right we are. I’m lining my lips and glossing the fuck up. Curtis and I broke up like an hour ago and I’m ready to drink!” there was not a hint of sadness in Ashley’s voice.
“Oh shit, babe, you wanna talk about it?” Sierra and I exchanged a wide-eyed gaze.
“Nope! Maybe tomorrow. Tonight, we rage!”
And rage we did.
We put on an Avicii playlist on Spotify and partied all night. We played double flip cup, never have I ever, and truth or dare.
You know when you lay on your back and put your feet on someone’s stomach, connect hands and extend your legs? Well, we managed to do that as a group — Jared on bottom, then Alec, then Todd, then me… once Ashley got on my back, we toppled over into the entertainment center which nearly broke it. Our laughter echoed in the room as we made our way back into the circle.
It was Sierra’s turn to deliver a dare… none of us were playing truth at this point… likely because we were all at least six drinks in. “Todd,” she looked at him with her glazed eyes. “Truth or dare?”
“Dare!” he smiled. That smile. Oh that smile.
“I dare you to kiss someone in this room,” she winked at me.
Without hesitation, he walked his hands towards me, but instead of leaning in, he grabbed my hand and made it clear we were standing up. He put one hand on the small of my back while the other came up through my hair. He pressed his soft lips against mine like he was ready. I was certainly ready. I could tell we were getting “ooohs” from the floor, but it was like they’d disappeared. I pulled his body closer to mine and felt his tongue as he pressed me against the sliding glass doors. I reciprocated without delay and knew I wouldn’t be sleeping on the couch tonight.
For the first time in a while, I felt truly free. I let my inhibitions escape me. I felt my kundalini energy radiating and I marveled at just being alive.