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ok, so monday, i went up to the store to check ashley's schedule. i was sorta upset since the last words i said to holly were "i'm sorry i smashed a grape in your hand, holly." that wasn't exactly the kind of goodbye i had hoped for. so i was thinking that by saying a good goodbye to ashley, i could sort of make up for it. but i had to see when ashley's last day was. so i went up there, saw that it was wednesday, and on my way out, brandy called me over to the service desk. she asked if i was going to holly's party tonight. i said 'no...' she said i should. all of a sudden i knew why this rang a bell. i hadn't thought holly was serious when she had mentioned having a party, but i guess she was. 'actually,' i told brandy, 'i was specifically un-invited.' she was confused. i explained 'becuase i smashed a grape in her hand.' she laughed and said come on. i told her seriously, holly told me i wasn't invited. brandy said 'yeah, but she told me this morning to invite you. and i was like what, i don't have her phone number and you know she only works weekends. but you're here, so i'm inviting you.' i didn't know if this was for real or not. it didn't seem logical to me. holly was the one with my phone number, so if she really wanted to invite me, she could have called me, and not told brandy to. but since i wanted to go more than anything, i was willing to suspend my disbelief. i said 'but i don't know how to get there.' this was a lie. i'd been stalking holly long enough that i could probably get to her house in my sleep. but if i wasn't obsessed with her, i probably wouldn't remember where she lived, since i had only been there once. brandy said that her and sandy got off work at 10, and they were going over. sandy was going to follow her, so i could just follow them both. i said 'ok, but if she kicks me out, you'll know why...' she just laughed.

i'm picturing a party with lots of drunk people. when i get up there at 5 til 10, brandy and sandy are talking about this gag gift they bought for holly. i ask if it was a present kind of party. they said they thought they should get her a going away present, just something funny and little. great... well i'm in a grocery store, and i have 5 minutes to come up with a present. i get bread, cottage cheese, and sardines. she made herself a sandwich from that once, and i thought it was the sickest thing i'd ever seen. me and brandy have been making fun of her for that ever since. i put it in a paper bag, and use a black permanent marker to draw little loser-art all over the bag. brandy looks it over and tells me it's 'cute.' it works.

then we go to holly's. her mom lets us in. this takes me by surprise. holly's parents don't drink, and i know they would never let her have a party with alcohol in their house. i had figured they wouldn't be home. brandy introduces sandy, and starts to introduce me, but holly's mom tells her she already knows me. brandy is surprised and i feel proud. yeeah, me and holly's mom, we go way back...

we go into the living room, and there's about 10 girls there, all from holly's high school. they're sitting around in a circle, mostly talking, but there's a movie on tv. rush hour. it's almost over, so i'm guessing they've been here a while. out of the bunch, the 3 of us know holly and ashley and that's it. but we've got our little group so none of us feel too weird. and holly comes over and talks to us since we've just arrived. i think we were the only ones who came bearing gifts, but since they're just gag gifts anyway, that doesn't feel too weird either. holly opens them and when she's done we joke a little and then she says 'hey mandy!' a girl looks up and holly introduces me. mandy graduated this year and is going to go to the same college as me. so i wave across the room and that's it. holly moves back and forth between the 2 groups-her school friends and her work friends. sometimes conversations cross over to include some of each groups. sometimes not. but it's all smooth, and holly and i joke some, and i say a few things to make the whole group laugh, and not dumb things either.

then holly decides to play dj, and i'm sitting by the stereo, so i have fun. we trade off lines of iconz-get fucked up. yo, get fucked up, stay fucked up, roll to the club in a navigator truck... since i spend most of my life in 7-year-old mode, not too many people have ever heard me cuss. in fact, i can count them all on one hand. holly is special. holly moves back to her group, and then a few people leave. then holly goes in the hallway and is talking to mandy. i'm talking to brandy and sandy. (god, who named these kids? i feel like doctor seuss or something...) holly calls me and motions for me to come over. so i do, and she says 'so what do you do at school?' i tell her i work 40 hours a week. she says yeah, but what's there to do besides that. i try to think of what normal people do... i say there's parties on about every street corner, all the time. mandy is listening, trying to prepare for school, i guess. holly asks 'do you go?' god, i tell holly too much. before, i told her all about my no-party, no-drinking philosophy. but before, she didn't hang out with me. now i'm hanging out with her, and i don't want her to think i'm a loser. i want to be cool. i say 'uhh, sometimes...' she seems sorta surprised. she asks 'well what do you do there? do you d.d.?' it takes me way too long to figure out what d.d. is. people walk to the parties. you don't need a designated driver. that term has become obsolete. she mistakes my confusion with that term for complete confusion though, becuase she adds 'well last time i talked to you, you weren't really into all that...' and her voice trails off and she sounds really unsure of herself. i just want to hug her and tell her i love her. something about the way she's trying so hard to figure out what's going on with me, and i'm making it hard on her. it's not a romantic thing. the words want to come out in the same tone christine uses with me all the time. 'loser, i love you.' you can't hear it, but i can. like 'you're so cute. you're such a good kid.' instead i stammer 'uhh, no, we walk.' and add 'i just like to laugh at all the drunk people,' because all of a sudden, i don't want to be anybody but me. holly had that thought in her head, that i didn't drink or party, and she was still hanging out with me. she was the only one who knew that, and she was still ok with me. she still liked me. i don't want to lie to her. she says oh, ok, and then mandy's cell phone rings before we can continue our discussion on my college. that was probably a good thing, becuase i had reached a dead end. what is there to do at my school? i have no idea. you can either break stuff, get stuck on the roof, and get in trouble, or you can work 40 hours a week. holly and i chilled while she talked, and when she got off the phone, we were talking again, and holly said something about how next summer, i was going to be a really good friend, with a little wink at me, and then added that i was going to be 21. it made me want to come home. i don't know if she's going to even remember me next summer. she'll make tons of new friends at school, i'm sure, and some of them are bound to be legal. but i want to think she wants me around next summer. i want to come home just for her. i know that's a bad idea though, and it will probably change somehow by january 7th. i'll either have a good reason to want to come home, or have a good reason to not come home. either way, holly will be almost irrelevant. but now she sure is relevant...

then a whole group of them gets up to leave. holly goes outside to say goodbye to them, leaving me, brandy, sandy, ashley, and mandy inside. we talk and i'm doing real well. i'm probably the only person who is constantly rating her conversational skills, but i am, and i did ok. i was making them laugh sometimes, by saying funny stuff, not dumb stuff. when holly gets back in, they've just started a conversation about gay guys. we started by talking about people who used to work at the store (since all of us have worked there but mandy), and wound down to talking about a guy named christopher. christopher was in my grade, and he was in a lot of my classes. we were actually pretty close for quite a few years. he walked and talked and acted like a stereotypical gay guy, but the things he said were very straight. he would talk about different hot girls and stuff. people always made fun of him for being gay, but i'd always stand up for him and say 'you don't even know him. he's not gay. he likes girls.' and they couldn't argue with that, becuase they really didn't know him. they would just mumble 'well he sure acts like a faggot,' and walk away. christopher worked up at the store for a while. he quit a few weeks after holly started, but ashley and her mom both worked with him for quite a while. ashley says 'he's gay.' automatically, even though i haven't seen the guy in over a year, i say 'no he's not. he likes girls.' she says 'no, i'm not just saying that. i mean he really is.' sandy starts to protest, since she went to school with him too, and knew him pretty well. ashley says 'no, i'm serious. he came out of the closet recently. he told my mom. and what do you think's more likely, that he's lying to you guys about liking girls, or that he's lying to my mom about being gay?' and holly adds 'just looking at him, did you really believe he could actually be straight?' so we all finally agree that christopher is gay, even though me and sandy are still pretty surprised. sandy seems disgusted by the thought of it, but everyone else seems to mostly just feel sorry for him. christopher was the nicest guy i'd ever met, and even though people said he was gay, anybody who talked to him knew he was a great guy. most his friends were girls, but everyone in the room (except mandy) had known and liked him, and mostly seemed to think it wasn't fair. poor christopher. then they started talking about other guys who they thought were gay. one who went to holly's school, who i didn't know. but one from the store, john. they had a good discussion on it too. and the whole time, it wasn't like it was good or bad, really. more like it was just a fact, and if it was true, they felt bad for john. this was a good sign for me. i know girls tolerating gay guys is very different from girls tolerating gay girls. and i'm not coming out to these guys anyway. but i guess sometimes, i don't give people enough credit. i thought they would all be really against it, more like sandy.

we talked a while, me still managing to hold my own fairly well. then holly's dad came down and announced that he was going to bed, and we had to leave. so holly escorted us outside, and decided to give us individual goodbyes. she said she was going to walk each one of us to our car. we were all in a row, and i was the farthest away, so i went first. we walked back there and she gave me a hug and i hugged her back and said bye. she said she's see me sometime-after all, she still had my phone number. i laughed and asked 'you still haven't showered?' and as she was walking over to meet sandy at her car, she added that she would probably come visit mandy sometime, so she would see if she could get ahold of me when she did. i said 'yeah, do that!' and then she said bye to sandy, then brandy, and then we left, still following brandy so we wouldn't get lost. and that was it. the end of my contact with holly. i felt good though. i felt crazy good. i was driving around, just accelerating like crazy, then slowing down just to accelerate quickly again. i was happy. this was the right kind of goodbye. sure, my last words were still sorta strange 'yeah, do that.' but i had said goodbye. we had hugged. it had felt like for real. and i had been there. however i had ended up getting there, there were only 12 people with holly on her last evening here, and i was one of them. it was an honor. i was happy. i had gotten a million songs from the night to add to my holly playlist. and now when i thought about her leaving, the overall feeling was happy, not sad like before. i love holly. that thought won't leave my head. i love her. she will have fun at school. and i will get involved in a huge mess at my school. maybe that goodbye was for good, but i love her and i know she'll be ok, and i'll be ok. and i'm glad i know her. and i'm glad i spent 4 years with her. i'm also a little freaked out that i'm thinking the word 'love,' in connection with a real person. i don't 'love' people. love scares me. but i love holly... when i'm all scared from messing up at work, she's there giving me a massage and a hug... and when i want a goof-off buddy, she's great at that. and she knew the truth and still liked me. that's what's making me smile the most. i know brandy and sandy and everyone else at that store think i party down at school. i act like i do. so they hear me talk about partying, and see me hanging out with holly, who parties, and they just assume i'm telling the truth. so they accept me and hang out with me and i make me feel like i fit in. but holly knew the truth, and she was doing that anyway. i love her.

in other news:
i emailed jim and came close to telling the truth. i put:
i'm really sorry, but i can't date you. it's not that i don't want to. it's really that i can't. i know you're probably confused, but this is about the best explanation i can give. i'm sorry. i really do like you though, and i'd still like to hang out with you when i get back to columbus, if it's ok with you.
i figure he won't be able to read 'i'm gay.' from that. i don't know if anybody else could. to me, it's obvious that i'm hiding the fact that i'm a lesbian, but that's cuz i wrote the fucking thing. i don't know how it looks to anybody else, but i know jim will be clueless. hopefully, the rejection will be dissapointing enough that he won't go showing it to everyone else, becuase i can't be sure that there's not somebody down there who can read between the lines. he emailed me back though, and it seems like everything is cool. i think he had to send that though. you have to react to rejection. but i emailed him back after that, just a freinds email like we were doing at the beginning of the summer, and i think the real test will be seeing if/how he answers that one. i don't know if he's up for being just friends with me, and i guess it'll be a while before i can tell that for sure. i hope so becuase i like him, but on the other hand, that might be pretty awkward anyway. i guess either way that situation goes, i can handle it.

i think that's about it. i'm off to bed...