I still can’t listen to Automatic For The People. I haven’t purposefully listened to the album since 1994. I’ve heard tracks here and there, but nothing that made me think, “That was a good album, I should put it back into heavy rotation.”
College is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some, its their first taste of freedom and the responsibility that seems to disappear with it. To others, it’s the chance to buckle down and try to make up for the last twelve years of schooling. I think I fit somewhere in the middle…getting a burst of energy to turn over a new leaf and then say, “Fuck it, I’ll do it later.”
As a freshman trying to attend classes between distractions of women, calls home, and day drinking (because you can) can prove to be a struggle. I found myself in this quandary about a month into my first quarter of college. I hadn’t found my solid core group of friends yet and spent more time than I would like to admit on the phone calling home relaying about how awesome college life was when I really just wanted to be back in my own room. One of the people that I hung out with, we’ll call her Tina, was from Boston or somewhere in the general vicinity. We took a liking to each other but not anything deep like High School where we thought it would last forever. Relationships in college happen for one of two reasons…it could be the fact that you lowered your expectations so you wouldn’t get hurt or you’ve gained some infinite wisdom while going through the orientation process. Either way, I was away from home and wanted to assimilate into the college lifestyle like I saw my peers around me.
My roommate was a Japanese exchange student who chose not to communicate when he would be coming or going. This wasn’t too much of a problem, when he was gone it would be for days at a time. Not sure how everything got started, maybe some drinking, maybe some wooing with my charming sense of humor…but I think alcohol and loneliness were the common bonds. It was a Sunday night, Tina and I were in my room just shooting the shit and talking about our lives back home. Can’t remember if she was legitimately older than me, but she seemed more knowledgeable about the ways of the world than I, and I was okay with that.
As the evening wore on, our conversation slowed and we started to grasp at things to talk about. Every now and then a burst of energy, but it was really two tired people trying to come up with something to talk about so they didn’t fall asleep. Then Tina said, “OK, I’m going to go to sleep.”
Before I could say, “Goodnight.” She was laying prone next to me with no sign of moving. Well, I guess that’s how it was going to be for the night. Cool.
Tina was gone by the time I woke up and went to class. I had a couple of core classes that day and wasn’t really thinking about the course material. Distracted by the events of the previous evening, I played the night over and over in my head. Clothes stayed on and worlds weren’t rocked but a small connection was made. I came to the conclusion that the night was nice, not special, just nice. The rest of the day went on like a normal Monday, wrapped up classes, grabbed some dinner and headed back to the dorm. Roommate was still out when I heard a knock at the door, “It’s open!”
it was about 11:30 at night and Tina stood in the doorway in jeans and a flannel, quite the opposite of Mrs. Robinson. What would normally be considered bedtime back home all of a sudden became the time to get a second wind so you could spend more time socializing before crashing.
“Hey, you wanna listen to some music?” I asked.
“Sure, I’ll pick something out, where’s your CaseLogic?”
“Over on the window sill.”
Tina sat down on the edge of the bed and started to undress as the opening chords of “Drive” came out of my stereo. I gave her a funny look because I wasn’t sure what was happening or if this was how things happened in college but I didn’t know it. I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t. I was paralyzed, half with fear and half with excitement. Tina was about to reveal her birthday suit before she got up, turned off the light and climbed into bed with me.
Tonight was different. What happened next wasn’t worthy of a Penthouse Forum story that involves acrobatic sex and orgasms that would make Caligula blush. It was different in the sense that neither of us had any expectations of the other, or at least I didn’t. As Automatic For The People was coming to a close I asked, “You want me to change the CD?”
“No. It’s on repeat.”
And with that, the night continued until the sun started to come up. It was one of the first times I had spent the whole night awake, let alone in the arms of another. I don’t know if I was more impressed with my skills to pull an all-nighter or the fact that I had been in bed with a woman who didn’t leave after her own orgasm. I looked at the clock and saw that class was starting in two hours. I thought, ‘Screw it, I’ll go tomorrow.” And that’s when the problem started.
Tina came over again that night and the night after that and…you get the idea. I hadn’t gone to class in about 4 days. REM was still playing on my stereo and I hadn’t seen my roommate in almost a week (not that I was complaining).
Then the weekend happened. Tina didn’t come over on Friday night like I thought she would. She didn’t say that she would, I just thought. I didn’t hear from her for a couple of days and to be honest, I don’t remember what we said to each other when we reconnected. We didn’t get in a fight, neither of us were mad, we just lost the connection…or Tina had lowered her expectations to the point that she wanted to protect herself from getting hurt.
I still think about that week from time to time. It was special, I learned a lot about myself and some of the connections I make with people. It hurt a little when it ended, but everybody hurts. Sometimes.
|2.||Try Not To Breathe||REM||3:51|
|3.||The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite||REM||4:09|
|5.||New Orleans Instrumental No. 1||REM||2:16|
|7.||Monty Got A Raw Deal||REM||3:18|
|9.||Star Me Kitten||REM||3:16|
|10.||Man On The Moon||REM||5:14|
|12.||Find The River||REM||3:50|