Jeffrey has a car. I don’t. Of course I don’t. I don’t have things, and I will never have such a thing as big as a car. I don’t have money and I do not have things. He does. He has from the beginning. In the beginning he had all sorts of things I didn’t: his own apartment – one in Manhattan and one in the town he went to school in. I had to hide that I d did not have things.
I was glad that my parents’ house looked, at least from the outside, a little bit grand. And our first time there – no one else was there so I could sort of pretend I had more independence than I did.
He came in the summertime, for a few days, this boy from the writing class in the college that I went to once a week. He took the train to my town and I picked him up in the green VW station wagon my mother had left for me. She had gone away with my two little sisters to spend a couple weeks in someone’s lake house. It was their vacation and I didn’t have to go. So I had this house and this car and this boy and I could pretend I had more.
We went upstairs to my room with the slanted ceilings at the top of the house and he asked to look at my records. I’d seen his records, cartons of them in red plastic milk crates. I had about ten records. I did not know how people got big record collections like his. One record emptied my wallet – and how to choose, one at a time?
I had one Dylan album though Dylan was my favorite artist. I just waited for his songs to come on the radio, but Jeffrey had all the records and they were beat up and well listened to and he knew which songs were on which album and what order they’d come out in.
I had the great hits double record. I had no idea what album each song came from I just knew all the words.
Jeffrey didn’t have a car then, but a year or two later his uncle passed one his used Mercedes. Jeffrey drove it out to my parents’ house. It was winter time and we had broken up for so many weeks that I had really thought that boyfriend was gone and I felt my heart was ripped out and sad. I had said we had to stop, but I knew if I didn’t say it he would, and that would be worse. How could he stay with me – when he had two ex-girlfriends to my none. When he had friends and so much in his life. I couldn’t bear waiting for him to realize how little I had to offer.
But he came back in the big white boxy Mercedes and picked me up and drove me into Manhattan where now I was going to live in a school dorm, and we went to the movies and we ate dinner in a restaurant and I thought maybe I could have this back, maybe he really would stay with me. He’d been crying hard when he called.
And a few years alter we prepare to drive to California. We live together in an apartment now, a fancy one his family owns and Jeffrey wants to go to Los Angeles where he will become a film director. I am certain this will happen for him. Things like that will not happen for me, but Jeffrey has already written a novel – it is a beautiful thick typed manuscript. It is so gorgeous to look at. I read it. I don’t like it. It is about people I don’t like – people who have a lot of friends, who have lovers easily and are much more blasé than I know how to be. These are the people Jeffrey likes, I think. And I know I’m not like them.
We will drive to California, says Jeffrey. I am going too. What else will I do? There is nothing else I can do. I cannot stay here in New York by myself. This boy, this passion, these words of love and sometimes hate are the only things I value that I have.