Last Year Happened
In which I shamelessly rip-off Alex Carnevale.
At 10 PM, the night before I graduated, I moved into an apartment in downtown Baltimore. I was told the apartment would be empty, yet as I heaved boxes onto the floor, I heard footsteps from the adjacent room. A shirtless man wearing plaid pajama pants appeared in my doorway. In an Israeli accent he informed me his name was Eli, and, if I so desired, beer was in the fridge. I politely declined.
A girl I sat next to during my graduation ceremony pointed to the name of a mutual friend in the commencement program. She began to speak, but was drowned out by the cheers of a particularly proud family. I told her I didn’t hear, but she only rolled her eyes in response. Later that night we smoked marijuana and she mentioned she was thinking about asking out a professor on a coffee date.
I returned to my new apartment the day after I graduated. Eli was gone—as was the beer in the fridge.
For three weeks, I was alone—it was the first time I had lived in an apartment without a roommate. I ate only eggs, constantly smoked, and watched public access television. There was no air conditioning. I watched the Preakness Stakes, legs crossed, with an ashtray in my lap. You could see the Goodyear blimp from my window.
My roommate finally moved in—an optometry student from Sacramento. His name was Henry. After several days of living together, we went to a bar a few blocks away. He had a beer and told me about a high school friend who played minor league baseball. After one drink, he said he was tired. It was 8:30 PM on a Friday. “That was a real chill lounge,” Henry murmured as we walked back to our apartment.
In late June, I visited friend’s house in DC for a birthday and got very drunk. I tried to light a cigarette in their living room, claimed an iceberg didn’t sink the Titanic, hit my head on a table, slammed my skull off a doorframe, napped on a bathroom floor, and passed out under a sign reading “DRINKIN’ WITH MY BITCHES.” It would be the last time I ever saw that house.
I began an internship at a small, alternative, weekly newspaper housed in an ancient Baltimore rowhouse. My workstation was a retrofitted 1890s bathroom complete with marble walls, mirror, medicine cabinet, and an IBM PC.
My friend returned from Southern California after finishing school in LA. We discussed our respective college experiences while drinking a bottle of rum in my apartment. He made the observation (or I made the observation) that, while one of us went to one college and dated three girls, the other went to three colleges and the same girl. We both agreed this said something about our respective personalities—for better, or for worse.
I met a girl in a bar who told me my plaid shirt was trendy. Her boyfriend yelled at her. She friended me on Facebook.
I began to regularly hang out with a college friend from Baltimore during the weekends. Her boyfriend visited at one point and had a really shitty time. I felt guilty and, to this day, think about the bars where I would take him if he comes back. He’s lived in Brooklyn for the past year.
I was unceremoniously hired and, eventually, dismissed as a part-time fact checker at the newspaper where I was an intern. My supervisor hadn’t cleared my hiring with her editor. They tried not to pay me, but I ended up getting 500 dollars because I excel at sending passive aggressive emails. I moved out of my apartment and back into my parents home.
The girl who told me my plaid shirt was trendy posted a status on Facebook advertising a part-time editorial position at her business magazine. I hadn’t seen her in three months. I sent her my resume.
I began working part-time at a business magazine. I was hired fulltime several months later.
While attending a music festival in Columbia, MD, I passed out during a Skrillex set. I returned to consciousness as a friend applied my hands to a metal railing. She screamed that I should, “HANG ON.”
I started to drink less.
At the business magazine, I was assigned to write monthly department. It was a profile piece focusing on local companies. While visiting a cinder block firm that built walls for penitentiaries, I realized I had made a mistake.
The Southern California graduate began working for an NGO in South Africa. Over the next four months, he proceeded to send daily pictures of the various bars, clubs, and scenic vistas he frequented. Due to the six-hour time difference, I regularly received these photos in the middle of my workday.
Time magazine told me my generation expects everything to be handed to them. On general principle, I became very angry. If only I could have smoked weed in Haight-Ashbury, I thought—then I would have been a real man.
While visiting friends in Brooklyn, we spent part of a night in a Williamsburg bar that allows dogs. One particular dog happened to shit on the floor. I realized Time magazine was right.
The Southern California graduate returned from South Africa. We got very drunk, complained about Baby Boomers, and threw beer bottles at a bridge. Eventually, we retuned to the homes of our parents. Silently, we refused to acknowledge our hypocrisy.
I met a friend of the Southern California graduate from South Africa. She was born in Pakistan of English and American parents. She hated Predator drones and pejoratively referred to Seal Team Six as “The Dream Team.” I mostly agreed with her politics. It was her 21st birthday and we drank Coors Light. I went home at 11:30 because I had work the next day.
A friend invited me to a concert in DC. We discussed Jay-Z and Samsung. Eventually, we joined a mutual friend who was celebrating her birthday. Later that night, as the three of us sat in a taxi, we made a Vine. For six seconds, I was confused. We returned to their apartment and I fell asleep under a sign reading “DRINKIN’ WITH MY BITCHES.” The next morning, I watched the previous night’s Vine with the expectation to hate it—I earnestly enjoyed it. I drove home.
On a day-to-day basis, I make an effort to assign a greater “overall” meaning to piecemeal events. Is it really possible to build a cohesive whole from anecdotes? Is this healthy? As much as we intrinsically desire to apply a narrative, there is no central theme. Life is just happening. There’s no dramatic arc. There’s no beautiful, final graf that crystallizes everything. A year just is. And here I am, 12 months later.
Will Beaud is a writer living in Baltimore.
This is the first in a series called, “In the Year Since I Graduated.”