The year was 2016 and I was in a committed relationship. With alcohol. We only saw each other on weekends and we had agreed to see other people, but it was as solid as most relationships I had in the past.
My name is Hope and this is my story. It’s not always a happy story and it’s not always funny though I try to make it so. But it’s mine. I was a freshmen at college, a place alcohol was entirely too easy to come by. Let me be clear. I did other things besides drink. I played volleyball, I wrote for the school newspaper, I had a solid group of friends, including my best friend Emily and her roommate Laura. The three of us had plans of getting a quad (such an exotic word to us freshmen) the following year. Or so I thought.
As we walked back to our dorms one day, I mentioned how excited I was to finally have a roommate. This year I had been put in a single. And while it had its advantages it could get lonely. Emily gave me an odd look and said “Hope, I’ve been talking to Laura and we don’t think you should room with us next year” At first I thought I heard her wrong. “We just don’t think it’s a good idea” We were outside our dorms now but suddenly I didn’t feel like going back to my room alone. “I’m going to go for a walk” I told Emily. My voice sounded strangled. “You sure you’re okay?” “Fine” My voice was shrill. I hurried away. Finally, I called Derrick who was at the library and he came out to see me.
Derrick and I have a complicated friendship, a friendship that was once fraught with sexual tension. We retained the friendship even after he got into a relationship with Amandaaela and the three of us had formed an odd sort of trio. Despite being in a relationship, Derrick was always there when I needed him. Like now.
He calmed me down and we began to talk about the weekend. “I heard you hooked up with Trevor” he said referring to a guy we frequently see at parties. I know what you are thinking. But I am not that kind of girl. I only ever had sex with one guy. Part of it is morals. Part of it is my obsessive compulsive disorder and the way I freak out about pregnancy. Even when it’s unlikely. Or impossible. I was taking pregnancy tests before I even had sex. I don’t know why. Guess I was preparing myself for the Immaculate Conception Part 2.
I did hook up with Trevor though. And my trusty partner alcohol had indeed been involved.
“Yeah I did” I replied somewhat reluctantly. But I never keep secrets from Derrick.
“Well, was he good?” Derrick and I have a very open sort of relationship.
“I don’t remember” Derrick looked confused. “I was drunk” I clarified. Derrick now looked concerned. “Hope, that’s not good” he said, his voice changing from friend and conspirator to worried older brother. “Well I like him. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is you drink too much” he replied. Derrick was very blunt. But I was a loyal partner and I defended my trusty companion alcohol.
“You drink too” I accused. “Yeah I drink but I don’t drink to get drunk. It’s totally different” Deep down I knew he was right. But the first step is admitting you have a problem. And I was not quite there yet.
So that night at the Harry Potter themed birthday party, I got entirely too drunk off of Butterbeer. But, I rationalized, at least I looked good doing it. I wore a tight shirt that said I Solemnly Swear I Am Up to No Good. I wanted to look good knowing other, prettier girls like Faye would be there.
Faye is one of those girls you would love to hate but you just can’t because she is so freaking nice. With her wispy blonde hair and deep blue eyes, she could be an angel. Or a model. It’s so damn depressing.
I also wanted to look good because I knew Mike would be there. I hadn’t heard from Mike since the hookup so yeah I was getting a little worried. And when he only gave me a brief nod of acknowledgement my heart fell. But I was not one to chase after a guy. I flirted heavily with my friends Ethan and Kyle and only at the end of the night did I approach Mike.
His back was to me and there was no way he could have known I was there. But I heard. Loud and clear. “I mean, why couldn’t it have been Faye? Why did it have to be her?” He was talking to several people who frantically started making gestures to him. He turned around. “Oh shit”
I don’t cry in front of people. I do, however, puke. I went to the bathroom and threw up three times hitting my head on the toilet seat.
I went to my friend Brianna’s apartment and rang the bell. There was no way I could go back to my empty room and my destructive thoughts. She let me in immediately once she saw I was crying. “Can I spend the night?” I asked tearfully. She settled me on the couch with a blanket and a glass of water and her stuffed monkey, Archie. I clung to Archie tightly and cried myself to sleep.
February 10th 2016-
Monday we had our first weekly quiz in psychology. I got several of the multiple choice questions wrong which wasn’t what bothered me- it was because I originally had the right answers then changed them so I got a 31/40 which really pissed me off (Brandon didn’t do as well so he didn’t understand why I was so upset). Then today we got an email from the professor telling us that if we got in the 30s at all we were in good shape but at the time I was pretty upset. What I really wanted was to sit by myself and take calming breaths till the panic went away but I had to run to theology.
I came back to my room and worked on my homework for several hours interrupted Victoriaefly by another panic attack. I’m hoping once I adjust to being back at school I’ll be able to deal with the stress better.
Monday night I was invited to Kyle’s to watch Spectre, a James Bond movie. I was on the couch with Amanda and Kyle and they were having this war of flipping each other off which turned into elbowing each other.
Derrick was messaging me and he mentioned feeling depressed also said Amanda was not texting him back. “Want me to ask her to message you?” I asked. “No she’s having fun” Derrick replied.
And then I felt guilty because she was having fun by flirting with Kyle. I kind of brought it up to her after the movie when we were walking home together. She didn’t deny being chummy with Kyle saying instead “Yeah but you can be in a relationship and still have crushes on people” I guess it wasn’t that part which surprised me. It’s a surprise she’d have an attraction to someone else so early in their relationship but mostly because her boyfriend needed her. He needed her for comfort. And instead she was paying attention to some older guy who flirts with all of us. But maybe I’m being a hypocrite. It’s just a particularly hard time for Derrick and knowing what I do it’s hard not feel protective of him.
Later that night I had a surprising conversation with Derrick. who mentioned he felt estranged from his parents and said “Maybe because that’s because I’m adopted”
“When I was eight”
I asked if there was anything else he wanted to tell me and he said “One day when I know you better you’ll realize your childhood might not have been as bad as you think” I’ve long suspected Tristan had a past trauma in his childhood. One time I mentioned the sexual assault (I had been assaulted at age fourteen) and he said “I understand more than you know” Whether he was sexually abused or physically abused something happened to him. I would never pressure him to tell me but I hope he does someday when he is ready.
Over the last few months my opinions and feelings of Derrick have changed so much. To find something so horrific (and if he wasn’t adopted at birth there is definitely a high chance something happened to him). God poor Derrick. If something did happen to Derrick (and I understand why he wouldn’t say anything for fear people would view him differently) he is one of the strongest, kindest, most courageous person I ever met.
This is going to sound weird and maybe even a little creepy but I feel a really strong sense of love for him and hope that we will be friends forever.
Author Notes: Half of this is told in story form, half in diary form. It is based on a true story.