In the early days of knowing Nordic Boy, we were both working in the THEE-AH-TAH, and would often be working late nights. I had less responsibility than he did at work (and in every way, really), so I was most often getting home and getting my snooze on while he worked into the wee hours of the night. One night, I was sleeping on my little futon pad on the floor, when my apartment buzzer went off. It was probably around 2 or 3 in the morning. I got up and went to the intercom, and it was Nordic Boy. “Hey, you up? Want to go get something to eat?”
The fact that I said something to the tune of “heck yes” and got myself out of snugglesville tout de suite without hesitation because I was so excited probably should have made the fact that I loved that dude an open and shut case, but it didn’t, because I was young and silly and not thinking about such things. And also I had a boyfriend, but let’s not get into that. I got dressed, ran down the stairs, and hopped into Nordic Boy’s chariot.
The chariot was an old-ass, beat up red four-door truck that Nordic Boy had bought for $350. There was a gigantic hole in the floor which not only was useful for those who wanted to watch the pavement rush past whenever they looked down, it also caused exhaust to blow gently into the interior of the back seat. Thus, you always had to have all of the windows down, even in the dead of Illinois winter, if you wanted to breathe, which we did.
Luckily, that night was not an Illinois winter. It was a warm, humid Midwestern summer night, the kind of night that I started to yearn for as soon as I moved to Seattle. We drove around in search of a slice of pizza, and then we drove some more.
From that night on, Nordic Boy started showing up a night or two each week, always in the middle of the night, always ringing my apartment buzzer and saying “hey, you up?” And I always was, even when I wasn’t, and I always got dressed, ran downstairs, and got into the truck.
Most nights we didn’t go get something to eat. Most nights we just drove out of town and into the surrounding countryside and stretched our window-side arms out of our windows and sang along to the music on the radio. We didn’t talk much, but we smiled a lot. We never held hands or kissed, but it felt like we had.
When I think about that year now, I think of it as such a lonely time in my life. I felt estranged from things and people in a way that I hadn’t ever felt before. I was living alone for the first time. I had been going to a school that didn’t fit. I had a boyfriend that felt wrong. My friends were drifting away and I hadn’t made many new ones. I wanted my life to go in a direction, only I didn’t know which, and even if I did, I didn’t know how. Even though I didn’t know it, I was sad.
Except I wasn’t sad all of the time. Some things did make me feel happy.
“Hey, you up?”