Reel Around the Fountain
by Nelson Rodriguez Rivas
Summer of ’05, sophomore year. Near the end of summer actually, a few weeks before I headed back south for the break between Summer and Fall. I remember driving my Jeep down to his apartment late at night the first time we got together. I was nervous as heck. He was in a frat for fuck’s sake. There was something secretive about the way he had me over that put me a bit on edge, but he smelled good getting into my car, so who cared, right?
He had an unnervingly easy way of making me feel good about myself from the start, something I hadn’t felt in my entire life at that point. He needed a lighter, so I drove him to the gas station a few blocks away. We returned to his apartment, empty of roommates gone home for the summer. And, in my mind, that’s where we stayed for the next few weeks.
There was sex. TV marathons on the USA Network. Getting high for the first time because this beautiful guy was asking me to, fuck peer pressure. Jimmy Eat World’s “Polaris”. A lot more sex. Being able to comfortably fall asleep with someone next to me for the first time. I’m sure I did other things during those weeks. I must have worked or gone home, I don’t know. We went to a movie at the student union, I asked him if it was okay to hold his hand. He grabbed it once the lights were low. My heart raced. But I mainly only remember him. And his bed. And those balmy Tallahassee nights. And the sex.
Summer came to an end and I said goodbye. We made some loose plans for Fall. I was idiotically hopeful. On my drive down the Florida Turnpike my car’s transmission blew at the Micanopy exit. I was stuck there for seven hours outside a gas station across from Café Risqué, a strip joint for truckers – food and showers included. I should have taken that miserable hot afternoon as an omen.
When I returned for Fall semester I barely saw him. His friends and roommates were back in town. It’s a tough thing when you realize the situation you’re in. I think I saw him a few more times over the next year or so before he left the school. And every time I’d get any sort of message I’d drop everything and go. Back then I would have done anything just to spend a few minutes with him. After one of those rare times, I remember seeing a shooting star, and I actually made a wish – about us. Thinking about it now makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. I spent half my life in college looking for that feeling I got from that summer, and the latter half so broken by the experience that I struggled to let someone in that actually cared about me that much.
Some memories exist in your mind and no matter how much you try to forget them, or change them, or damage them; they always seem to come through all your manipulation shiny and unscarred.
And still, when I was back in Miami a few months ago, he messaged me, and for second it felt like I was back in his apartment that summer. But sadly now, for me, it’s mainly just about the sex.