I exited the lecture hall still in a daze, daydreaming between the Sturm und drang and the more mundane preoccupation of needing to wax my legs that night, when I found myself walking along a blonde girl I didn't particularly liked.
"You're Isabella, right?" She asked while brushing back her wavy hair and moving her hips more than it was physically necessary for a female to walk, all while shaking the almost nonexistent miniskirt.
"Huh?" Was all I muttered while I wondered if she truly felt comfortable in her skimpy clothes, or it was a sacrifice she was willing to make to attract someone or to belong somewhere. I almost felt moved by this thought. Maybe we were closer than I thought. Weren't we all trying to figure out where we belonged after all? But I said I almost. Not quite completely moved.
"I'm Cammie" She said pointing to her spilling cleavage.
"Nice to… meet you?" I said still wondering what her ulterior motives may have been for her to want to know me. I wasn't putting myself down, I just couldn't see her agenda yet.
"What do you go by, Izzie? Bella?"
"You can always call me Fred." I said tired of how hard she was trying.
"You are a weird chick."
"And you are very insightful." I mocked.
"Anyways, do you have a partner for the midterm project?" She asked completely ignoring what I had just said.
"I thought about doing it on my own." I replied.
"What about me?" She asked flashing her best-rehearsed smile.
"What about you?" I mirrored her.
"We could be partners. I know that you do very well in this class, but I can help you outside class you know? In the real world."
I knew where she was going but I decided to go along just for kicks.
"And by that you mean?"
"I could give you a makeover and you could come to parties with me and stuff, you know, to get some boys interested."
Wasn't she the Mother Teresa of party girls?
"What if I don't swing that way? Maybe I'd be more interested on you helping me… in a different way..."
"I... you… mean...?"
Oh, how I enjoyed shocking girls like this one.
She could act all shocked but I imagined that after enough Jello shots she'd do her fair share of exploration.
"I'm just pulling your leg. Don't worry. I am ALL for the boys."
"So do you want to be partners and have me help you with your looks?"
"Well, I already have a fairy godmother that tries to knock some femininity into me. " I said grinning at the thought of Alice's elfish looks.
"I could get you in all the good parties."
This chick obviously didn't know I was banned from all things Greek. Or the fact that I already had a boy, Heck! I had a man more than interested on hanging out with me.
"It'll be like status quo you know, like Hannibal Lecter?"
Was she for real?
"Ah... Quid pro quo?" I offered.
"Whatever. You could get some of the boys to look at you, you know? You're not totally a lost case. You just need some guidance."
That did it. No more miss nice to her.
"You really think so? Oh, that would be so wonderful!" I said with a very obvious fake enthusiasm. Nonetheless it went unnoticed by my 'good friend'.
"Would you be my partner then?" She asked as I noticed a very familiar figure on my peripheral vision.
"Will you get me a guy?" I asked flatly.
"Of course. I love helping people, it's like… my calling."
"What about… that one?" I said pointing to the object of my desire.
"I don't know..." She said looking closely to the male walking towards the lecture hall. "You could try, but maybe you should start with something less ambitious, like someone in your own league." She said.
"You are right. He is dreamy." I said wondering if this is how people perceived us. Did people actually think I was so out of my league? I refused to think that I was Edward's charity case. I may be unconventional but I wasn't going to cry an 'I'm not worthy' litany.
"He surely is." She agreed with me.
"Oh, I think he is looking at you" I teased.
"You think so?" She said obviously flattered and I could see her already fantasizing about him.
"Look! He's waving." I noted.
"He is. "
"And he's coming this way. I so wish I could be like you." I said only half trying to sound truthful. I had realized that she didn't really need me to work too hard to try to convince her.
The guy who we had been looking at, who unbeknownst to Cammie had been sharing my bed for quite some time, finally approached us. And without saying a word he reached for me and planted a long kiss on my lips while locking his arms around my waist. Afterwards he looked into my eyes and said to my 'partner's' disdain:
I looked back to Cammie and said:
"Oh Cammie, thank you! Being with you five minutes already made my life a lot less crappy." And I started walking away holding Edward's hand.
"Torturing blondes again? I thought you had given up on that." He said pulling me closer as we walked.
"I know. I fell off the wagon. But she was so kind to offer me to change me from the ugly duckling I am into a not-so-ugly duckling for the very low price of adding her name to my midterm project." I said in my defense.
"You didn't tell her you are already a 'Swan'?" He asked with a big grin.
"Are you touring with that material? Because it is quite lame."
"But you still want me" He said stealing a quick kiss.
"What can I say? I am a bizarre individual after all."
"Are you done for the day then?"
"Yes. Can we go do something fun?"
"Nope. Moving day remember? We got a ton of things to do and a ticked off Emmett waiting."
"Let's ditch him, he can do most of the heavy lifting after all."
"He probably could, but do you want him moving the guitars?" He asked knowing I couldn't let that go.
"You made a good point Cullen. Let's go."
We were moving out of dorms and into an apartment.
All three of us.
Moving into my first apartment had been a long awaited milestone, even if I hadn't accomplished a few things I related to the beginning of adulthood, such as graduating from college, having a job and being self sufficient. But nonetheless it had meant a lot. A little space I could call mine and a very warm body that would lie next to me night after night without any reason to leave, fully acknowledged that the bed we laid in was ours, not mine nor his. A bed bought with the sole purpose of sleeping and love-making on it, a queen bed, bigger than our former doubles.
We had endured dorm life for a year.
And we were done with it.
Carlisle and Esme agreed that even if bothersome, it was character forming and therefore an irreplaceable experience. They had been adamant about it.
They hadn't been so thrilled about us moving in together so soon, but the decision had been an adult one. It was now out of their hands, since Emmett, Edward and I were paying for the roof above our heads with the proverbial fruit of our work.
We moved into a nice little apartment: a cozy three bedroom one bath place near school. Cozy being code for tiny and ugly as hell but full of character in our eyes nonetheless.
Emmett was fully aware that the third bedroom would be a guest room slash whatever we needed it for, and he was fine with it. Rose was attending an all-female school about forty-five minutes away from us and the arrangement worked.
First night had been interesting and odd. It felt odd knowing that for the first time one of us wasn't just visiting.
"What is the problem with you? You are aware we've slept on the same bed since we were ten right?" Edward asked me when he realized I was taking longer than normal to get to bed.
"I know. It's just different."
"Afraid you won't be able to kick me out if you get mad at me?" He said jokingly, but truth to be told, I had kicked him out of my room in the past.
"Maybe. But I can always kick you out. Couch's nice" I said nonchalantly prompting him to get up from the bed and walk until he was standing behind me, as I was in front of my mirror dillydallying.
"I can't believe after nineteen years of knowing me, better than anyone else, and nine of sharing my bed-"
"Lots of times it was my bed." I interrupted him.
"Whatever. As I was saying, I can't believe that after nine years of sharing a bed with me, last two as lovers, you, of all people, are getting cold feet."
"I'm not getting cold feet." I snapped back.
"Then show me. Be happy. I thought this is what we wanted." Looking directly into my reflection on the mirror.
"Of course I wanted this, and I am very happy. I think it just going to take me a little bit to get used to it." I said turning around to look at him.
"Want to christen our new bed then?" He said smiling again and hugging me.
"You have a one-track mind." I replied.
"Listen. I get what you are saying. Not an idiot here. I just want to be excited, look forward." He said regaining a serious look.
"I guess it just feels like I just jumped right into adulthood and I didn't get my feet wet first." I said.
"I think we jumped head first into adulthood way before this kid." He said making a lot of sense. But still I felt wary.
"Don't you get scared about life sometimes? You are always the merry one. I swear if I didn't love you I'd so hate you."
"I do. I just don't dwell on things I can't do anything about."
"I swear sometimes I feel I got into this world without a user's manual while everyone else did."
"That is because you are a brand new soul." Edward said placing butterfly kisses on my neck.
"God please tell me I haven't been sleeping with someone who's into New Age and horoscopes."
"Are YOU touring with that material?" He said looking into my eyes.
"Hey guys, you better be dressed." Emmett said as he opened our door and we turned to face him.
"You are going to have to learn to knock if this arrangement is to work bro." Said Edward.
"Maybe we should set up a code or something, like if there is a sock around the doorknob…" I said sarcastically.
"Don't worry Bella, I don't look forward to you flashing me. Though I don't know what would be worse: running into you naked or suffering 24/7 your cynicism and sarcasm." Emmett said to me as he jumped to our empty bed. "This is nice, you haven't done the nasty here yet, right? That would be gross." He said trying to bother us.
"I have been trying…" Edward hit it back at him.
"You have lived under the same roof with me Emmett, what's the difference?" I said getting back to his preoccupations.
"What about the fact that mom and dad are not here? What about you two shacking up and ganging up on me?" Emmett responded.
"Don't worry Em. We won't do anything bad to you… That we haven't done before." I said.
"I think it will be better to put our minds together for a common good instead of fighting each other, like preventing mom from visiting every month." Edward added.
"That reminds me, she did mention that she got duvets, towels and what not for the apartment already, and that she will be coming next weekend with her paint swatches." I said remembering my earlier call with Esme.
"So Em, when is Rose coming to visit? Or how long are we going to be suffering from your sexual frustration?" I said kicking Emmett while he was already bothered by the news of Esme coming on the first weekend in our new place instead of having Rose over.
"Edward can you please keep your woman in line?" He said annoyed.
"Do you think I can?" He said making me laugh, though I wasn't ready for what Emmett replied.
"More than she would like to accept."
Was he right? Had I been tamed? Broke down? For a moment I wondered if we had all become cartoons of ourselves, completely figured out by everyone else.
Was that what adulthood was? Being a sad reminder of what we were before?
Did we really spend our teenage years desperately wanting to figure out who we were? Making a statement of who we were definitely not (if the former endeavor proved too complicated)? Trying to be what we were not, proving that we could be cool and collected and comfortable in our skin?
All just for adulthood to be a pilgrimage back to find who we were in the first place?
Was it there where we were heading?
Was adulthood just desperately holding on to our former selves, trying to say: 'See? It is still me: I'm not my job, my husband/wife, my kids, my politics, my beliefs, the toothpaste brand I buy over and over at the supermarket'?
That was just me. Not yet completely over my teenage years and I was already resenting my inaugural walk into adulthood.
But I may had been in the last year of my adolescence and yet my luck, or rather my stupidity, had already propelled me into adulthood years before.
Edward was right: I had cold feet. It just wasn't about our relationship.
It was about me, about my life. But the concept of me was so wrapped around the concept of him.
Had we lost track of where he started and where I ended?
Symbiosis never seemed so abject as just then.
That had been the gloom that was creeping into me. I had always tried so hard to be confident and to be brave… And now I just felt like I didn't have the drive anymore.
Moving out of my childhood, of my irresponsible and carefree teenage years, out of a college dorm and into my adult life.
I couldn't pretend I wasn't a kid anymore.
It wasn't just moving out but moving in, together, into the unknown.
It had been a milestone indeed.
And now it was just another memory in a box.
The proverbial break-up box that holds the holy relics of a dead relationship: knickknacks that don't hold any meaning to anyone but the two people involved.
Sad remnants of a now impossible future that no matter how bad the ending, are so difficult to throw away. Nearly impossible.
But our end hadn't been bad at all, incredibly sad, but not terrible. It had lacked animosity.
Our end had been very calm: we flat lined without actually realizing what was going on.