Timeline: Twenty

(This follows on from Nineteen, and before that, Seventeen and Eighteen, and before that, Sixteen, and before that, Fourteen & Fifteen, and before that, Twelve & Thirteen, and before that, Eleven, and before that, Seven Through Ten, and before that, Zero Through Six.)

2000, aged twenty: Sean and I have broken up, and this is the year of boys who are not him. Handily, this dovetails nicely with my first and second years of university in London, where exciting new people lurk everywhere. I take up with a gawky art student from Vermont whose hair I cut in the kitchen, a rabid stockbroker from New Jersey who'd be better looking if weren't for his Napoleon complex, and even---during my summer back home in Connecticut---my shyly handsome manager at Abercrombie and Fitch. I have a type, apparently, and the type is American.

Things are good with the art student from Vermont, and then suddenly, very suddenly, things are bad. It is partly my fault---I don't bother hiding my crush on his curly-haired friend from California, for instance, another art student whose prowess on the guitar cleverly masks the fact that he can't draw or paint to save his life---but also it is partly his.

At the end of the summer term, we throw a joint party in our dorm---our rooms are across the hall from each other, a recipe for disaster if ever there were one---and midway through it, I accidentally walk in on him and an arty-looking Italian exchange student, the only detail of whom I remember is her buzz cut. Unsurprisingly, he is not helping the arty-looking Italian exchange student conjugate some particularly challenging English verbs. To his credit, he doesn't even try to pretend that he was.

He goes away to work on a farm in Italy for a month, and I take some important exams, and although we've always kept things fairly loose between us, it's never quite the same again. His study program ends and he packs up to go back to Vermont---he never brought much with him anyway; for the first week he didn't even have any sheets or towels---and the way we part is awful. It's curiously stuffy for London in June and he calls goodbye through my closed door and I almost don't open it, but I open it in the end, and even though my brain is going be nice be nice be nice, you don't know when you'll see him again, something has gone rotten and fetid between us. I'm rude and tough and snappy. I answer only in monosyllables.

A few months later, he calls me from a van on the side of the road---he's in Florida, on a roadtrip, I don't ask why---and years and years after that, I think of him suddenly in his soft flannel shirts, his long, paint-spattered feet, and I google him one evening in a fit of nostalgia. His girlfriend turns out to be a moderately famous singer who's opening for Ani DiFranco just blocks from my apartment in San Francisco, and for a few weeks I actually consider going to the concert. But time passes and my curiosity fades and in the end I forget about it. It's probably just as well, though: I never liked Ani DiFranco anyway.

Sep 10, 2008

Lovely. It always amazes me how close we can be with someone one day, and what a complete stranger they become with time. Makes me wonder who in my life now, will be someone I blog about years from now.

Camels & Chocolate
Sep 10, 2008

It's weird to think of a time when Sean just wasn't there. I don't like smelly art students from Vermont much anyway. Did it also occur to you that your type is not only American, but YANKEE American at that??

Nothing But Bonfires
Sep 10, 2008

Good point. I like me some New Englanders.

Sep 11, 2008

New Englanders are a good breed. You have excellent taste.
Then again, I may be slightly biased.

Sep 11, 2008

I find all of your timeline posts delightful, this one especially, which is why I feel a tiny bit bad to get all offtopic on it..but..
Pretty please with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry on top (maybe even with a glass of Mozart Gold liqueur) consider posting this on your blog:


I'm absolutely obsessed with food blogs, and I absolutely love your blog, so it would just kinda...feel right if you did this. Especially since you've travelled to so many places and have had the opportunity to try so many of the things on the list.

Creature of Habit
Sep 11, 2008

I can't help but wonder if we dated the same rapid stockbroker from New Jersey with a napolean complex....he did live in London for a while, and he was quite handsome.

I thought I was the only one who Googled ex boyfriends (well, at least the ones whose names I can remember)...

Sep 11, 2008

I love your timelines and this one was a real treat. I am sorry to hear you never liked Ani DiFranco: you're missing out!

Sep 11, 2008

I love these timelines. I'm amazed at how you can talk about a large period of time in such a small space with such magnificent detail.

Liberal Banana
Sep 11, 2008

As I read your post, I was listening to Ani. HA! Oh well, she's not for everyone...More for me!

Sep 11, 2008

When I walked into the gym the other day, the girl at the front desk was listening to Ani. It made me nostalgiac, but even though I still have all the cd's I thought, "I can't ever listen to those cd's again, for I am no longer an idealistic college girl."

Sep 11, 2008

Lovely Holly, just lovely! Although as frequent reader for sometime now, it does seem odd to me that there was a time in your life when you and Sean weren't together.

I love the detail and they way you can just paint a picture with your words.

Sep 11, 2008

I am with Georgia. It also amazes me how the people close to us become strangers, how people we liked (if not loved) are suddenly people we dislike (if not hate). Many years ago I tried to be nice to an ex, but in the end I just couldn't and so I told him exactly what was on my mind, exactly what I thought of him. That's the best thing I have ever done, even though my upbringing tells me I should have been nicer.

Sep 11, 2008

I think it is safe to say that there are more than one (hundred) rabid stockbrokers from New Jersey with Napoleon complexes.

Sep 11, 2008

Amalah wrote a tweet on Twitter last week about how she googled an ex-boyfriend and it was so delicious that when she was done she needed a cigarette. It made me laugh so hard that I googled a couple of my exes too. It was not so delicious.

Sep 11, 2008

Isn't it odd where they end up? I and an old friend from my undergrad days occasionally go through fits of trying to track down our old friends and lovers. The results are usually surprising. Strangely, a high proportion of my old friends and lovers ended up becoming lawyers, although none of them had any such intention at the time.

I can't imagine you without Sean, although the time apart was probably a good thing. There is nothing to make you appreciate someone like spending time with people who aren't him.

I too don't understand the Ani DeFranco thing, if it's any consolation. She's like black licorice or Elvis Costello: either you adore her ardently, or you're indifferent.

Sep 11, 2008

It's funny: you like american guys and I love english guys. I would leave my husband in a moment for Mr. Gary Barlow. He knows this, and accepts this.

Anne & May
Sep 11, 2008

I'm SO glad these are back but now I'm panicked because I know you're a twenty-something--so that means there aren't very many left.

When, oh when, are you going to write the whole thing down? I'm utterly engrossed.

Sep 12, 2008

You got blog love on Mighty Girl today! http://www.mightygirl.com/

Sep 12, 2008

This was a lovely post, Holly. I'm 20 right now, and I was really looking forward to reading your post on being this age. I have to say, your experience with how you felt about your boyfriend mirrored just about the same thing that happened to me recently, and it's always nice reading about those experiences that create connections.