I shoved the door across the hall open, hoping to find Julie.
Sarah was there instead. I tried to hide my disappointment. I loved Sarah, but in that moment I wanted to see Julie.
I greeted Sarah, then shot Julie a quick text asking her where she was. Surprisingly, Julie responded right away, and even more surprisingly, she was on her way home at 3 instead of spending the whole day in Evans library. I plopped down on the futon facing Julie’s bed and chatted with Sarah about her day. She had an engineering career fair the next day and she was really nervous about it.
I surveyed Julie’s bed as Sarah expressed her concerns and I soothed them. Sarah and Lindsay had decorated the her wall with steamers and a happy birthday banner. Her comforter was pure snow white, like mine, and she had a sentimental blanket draped across the foot, like I did. All the similarities were unplanned, but we were a little different. My bed was made every day and decorated with a dolphin pillow and three handmade delta pillows. Julie’s bed was a twisted mess, her mattress pad falling off the foot and her single pillow mashed almost flat.
My eyes floated down her space, noticing that all her clothes were put away and her desk was almost clear. A box caught my attention, and I wandered over to it. The package was obviously open, and I peered in.
“No fucking way!” I shouted and reached in for the object of my desire.
“What? What did she get?” Sarah bounced out of her chair at my excitement, craning her neck to look at the box in my hands.
“Julie got a molecular model kit for her birthday!” I could feel my eyes stretching wide and my mouth popping open as I held the kit out for Sarah to see. Sarah looked from the small blue box to me and back.
“Damn, you are a huge nerd.” She rolled her eyes at me and went back to her desk. She couldn’t kill my mood. I was smiling at the back of the box as I read about all the features of Julie’s chemistry set when Julie walked in.
“Omg, Jules, I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you got a model kit!” I screeched as she dropped her backpack to the ground with a heavy thud. Julie was also blown away by my enthusiasm, but she smiled indulgently at me.
“I just opened it this morning. You didn’t give me a chance to tell you.” I conceded, thinking about how much more fun our organic chemistry homework would be when we could build models of the structures we were working with. I gave her a big hug, and she tried to pull away, not wanting to draw attention to her birthday. After a few moments of being trapped in my arms, I let her go.
“I’m hugging you because it’s just another Monday. Everyone needs a hug on Monday.” She moved out of my reach, defending herself against an inevitable future hug.
“How many people know it’s my birthday?” She questioned, eyeing her decorations.
“We hung your decorations inside so people couldn’t see them. We really are trying to keep it on the dl.” Sarah answered, but Julie looked unconvinced.
“Everyone’s going to know at chapter anyway. You can’t keep people from finding out.” I thought about my last statement. She couldn’t really keep people from finding out, but she had tried her best. She deleted her Facebook last month to throw people off her trail. Then she gave me those big puppy dog eyes and got me to agree not to tell anyone. I even did damage control, telling everyone that already knew to not say anything to her and to act like it was a normal day.
“You are a birthday Scrooge.” I chuckled at my own joke, a trademark of mine. I was eventually laughing full out because I thought I was so funny. Julie just shook her head at me, laughing quietly at me instead of my joke.
“How did your interview go?” I asked before I thought better of it. Julie had interviewed with the head dietician of the A&M football team earlier that day. Only Julie would schedule an interview on her birthday. I didn’t want to ruin her day by asking about it, but I had to know.
“I got it.” Julie said it in the same tone she would’ve said the sky is blue. She wasn’t arrogant or assuming by any means, she was just stating a fact that she didn’t think any one would actually be interested in.
“OH MY FUCKIN GOD!” I screamed, almost regretting cussing and using the Lord’s name in vain when I saw Julie wince. I continued shouting, wrapped my arms around her again, and made her jump up and down with me. “Oh my gosh, Julie, that is so amazing! I’m so proud of you! You are going to do great and you truly deserve it!” I pulled back to look at her, and she was smiling, her cheeks heating under my praise.
“You are more excited than I am.” I could tell my praise warmed her insides. She obviously didn’t deal well with attention, but some things deserved recognition. I was always here to tell her how amazing she was.
I couldn’t keep the smile off my face all night. People asked me what happened, thinking they had missed one of my stupid jokes. I just looked at Julie and answered that it was just a normal Monday.
I love this story. I’ve been smiling the whole time I’ve been typing it out. I love that I expressing joy over a molecular model kit that wasn’t even mine. What can I say, I love science, especially chemistry. I’m a huge nerd, and I’m finally proud of it.
I love my friends fiercely. When they accomplish something, I feel such a surge of pride that it can only be described as parental. When people admire the canvases above my dresser, I proudly say that my best friend Jenna painted them for me and launch into stories of her awesomeness. When Lindsay gets an A on a test and wants to text me right away, I love that she knows I will make a big deal out of it. When Julie finally tells me something amazing that she’s done, I can’t help but brag on her. I love telling people that my friends are amazing people.
I am constantly amazed that these people want to be my friends. I’m nothing special. I’m a little damaged and pretty hard to get along with. I don’t have a lot of sympathy. My blunt words often come out mean, and I can’t always say I regret them. I have a short temper. I cuss all the time. I think I’m the smartest person in every room. I’m awkward and anxious. I put my needs before the needs of others. I don’t have that natural kindness that most of my friends posses.
But, by some miracle, some pretty fucking amazing people love me back. It makes me feel like maybe I’m not so bad.