They had warned me about the bedsheets.
San Antonio is infamous for high temperatures in the summer, but the dorm rooms at this particular college had some kind of air-conditioning system that cranked nonstop. The combination of the refrigerated air and the windows that had been sealed for decades coated everything in a cold dampness, including the bedsheets and pillowcases and even the twin-sized mattress. I should have been prepared. I wasn’t. I was also not prepared for what would happen in that room during the week I was there to attend a writing workshop. Now that I think about it, though, it makes sense, because dorm rooms are like a monk’s room. Or how I imagine a monk’s room to be. There’s a mattress, a pillow, and a bedsheet. There’s the floor and the single light fixture and the walls stripped of color. For teenager and practitioner alike, the room is a blank canvas.
It was the second or third night of the workshop, close to midnight, when I sat on the very cold bed in that dorm room in Texas and realized that I hated at least three of my friends and a woman I knew only marginally.
“Hate” is not the right word. “Hate” is the word I want to use because everyone hates something, like the taste of root beer, for example, or mechanical pencils when the lead jams. There are also the big-world hates we can agree on: genocide, police brutality, high carbon footprints. Hate is, in public at least, accessible and acceptable.
I did not, however, hate three of my friends and the marginal woman. I envied them. I am trying to remember all the reasons now and even who the specific friends were at the time, but the list roughly boiled down to the fact that one friend had a spectacular book deal and another had finished her first book. A third friend was about to marry the love of her life and another had good hair. (I don’t mean white folks’ hair. I mean thick wavy dark hair that she didn’t need to touch in the morning because she woke up looking that good.) I hated them all. No. I envied them. I wanted what they had.
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